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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
38 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 2 that awareness flow and integrate into all areas of our lives. Also I think this idea that there are things that are outside of Buddhism creates a false duality. Buddhism is about the development of awareness that permeates the body–mind and then offers itself to whatever it meets. Once we understand that what we’re working with is this universal awareness, we see that psychological exploration is not outside of Buddhism. JOHN WELWOOD: His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa says some things that I think are quite relevant here. In his book Walking in Step with the Dharma, he says, “Even if one is trained as a teacher of buddhadharma, one should still keep in mind the all-important point that one must use all of the means at one’s disposal—be they Buddhist or non-Buddhist— to bring benefit to the people one is teaching... “Whatever major or minor methods for accomplishing happiness there are in this world, we must have respect for all of them. Not only must we respect them, we must learn and engage in those methods when appropriate. We should be ready to engage in whatever methods can help us in leading others to genuine, ultimate happiness... “If we know how to use a given method skillfully, we can transform any method into a support for accomplishing genu- ine happiness. So whether they are from the dharma or from the mundane world, we must pay attention to and study all skillful methods available. We might think that some methods, since they do not fit snugly with Buddhist philosophies, are useless and to be abandoned. However, if we abandon them, we will only be doing so because those methods do not seem suitable for us, not because of our concern for others. This is unacceptable.” ANDREW HOLECEK: That’s beautiful. BUDDHADHARMA: Still, many Buddhists aren’t looking for ther- apy, even if they might need it. They set out on the Buddhist path because they were drawn to the path of liberation, the path to end all suffering. They believed this path would be enough. JOHN WELWOOD: Buddhism is the path to liberation. But in terms of actually embodying that liberation and integrating it fully into all the aspects of your life, Buddhism doesn’t necessarily have a skillful means of doing that in the modern Western world, which is a completely different world than the one where Buddhism originated. The good news is that when you start to unpack these pat- terns and really look at them and take them apart, ultimately you find at the root of them some basic intelligence operating. Even with the worst kind of emotional patterns or defenses, there’s always some basic intelligence there. I recently had an interesting experience with a client who suffers from depression. Underneath the client’s depression was this deep sorrow, and when we started to work with this and unpack the sorrow, he saw that the sorrow was actu- ally a defense or a relief from experiencing a deeper feeling, which was an utter disconnection from his family—a feeling of aloneness, of not being understood, seen, heard. So for him it was actually preferable to feel the sorrow than it was to feel complete and utter dissociation. This person came to realize that he had chosen sorrow as a way of connecting with his heart. When he felt sorrow, he felt connected to his heart. This is an example of how you discover great intelligence underneath when you begin to unpack psychological patterns. ANDREW HOLECEK: When we set out on the path, we’re naively setting out for heaven. We want up and out. Otherwise why would we engage in the spiritual path? I mean if you’re going to enter a path of guaranteed hardship, what’s the point? Peo- ple want to relieve their suffering, and because they associ- ate suffering with earthly manifestations they are unwittingly setting out for some kind of paradise. The path becomes an escape. Eventually, though, we come to the harsh realization that there is no way out. The magic is to discover there actually is a way “in”—that’s the path. So you pull this wicked U-turn where you end up returning to the wisdom of the body, return- ing to the wisdom of the earth, returning to the wisdom of your emotional upheavals and actually discovering liberation there. I think this is where a lot of people get tripped up. They realize at a certain point they’re heading in the wrong direc- tion. It’s not up and out, it’s down and in. It’s really a process of “waking down” not “waking up.” Waking up denotes the escapist propensity we all have for getting away from our problems. Waking down is returning to the wisdom that’s already here and finding the magic there. BUDDHADHARMA: Apart from it being painful to see our emo- tional stuff, are there other reasons why practitioners in par- ticular are reluctant to explore their emotional wounds? GRACE SCHIRESON: Within my Zen community I see that what Suzuki Roshi described as “looking like good” means there is a kind of culture where emotions are not really allowed, particularly anger. When one enters one of these communities With the exception of things like the five skandhas, Buddhism doesn’t really have a developmental psychology. We have all kinds of maps of the relative mind in the West that can augment our ability to work with the relative expressions of the mind. —Andrew Holecek