The best of East and West
At the age of fifteen I bought a book on psychology and a book on Buddhism. Almost fifty years later I am still drawing on Eastern and Western approaches to the the business of living and, particularly, the alleviation of suffering.
Western psychology focuses on how I am (thoughts, feelings, behaviour and so on) and who I am (identity, individuality, personality, etc). There is much to be said for this approach, the unpacking of these themes plays an important part in therapy.
However, something is missing and it is something that has traditionally been the focus of the Eastern approach. That something is that I am, the fact of being, the enduring and underlying self that is so intimate, so essential, so unfailing that it is usually overlooked.
A little examination reveals that we are not our experience, we are that that knows our experience… I am that. Not making this distinction is a major component of suffering.
Much like a movie projected on a screen, our experience (the movie) and our awareness (the screen) are intimately connected and yet utterly distinct. Project a movie of a fire onto a screen and it will never set the screen alight.
Who I am and how I am can be debated, are subject to change, and are frequently a source of concern and anxiety. There is no solidity here. That I am is the most self-evident and primary knowledge we have. And it never changes; regardless of how successful or not we are, how happy or miserable we are, or how old we are, this always underpins and illuminates our experience.
Also referred to as Self, Being, Awareness, Presence and the Unconditioned Mind, the Buddhists call this ‘the ultimate medicine’ and the source of peace, happiness and compassion.
Of course, what I have written here could appear as simply interesting ideas. You might be asking how does this relate to my life, my situation, what difference could it really make? These are good questions as an intellectual understanding is not enough… the translating of this into a lived reality is a focus in my East meets West approach to therapy.
Coming to therapy means you probably have pressing circumstances or powerful feelings that need to be addressed, and these will be thoroughly addressed. As things unfold, the reality and relevance of the above may naturally find a place in our work.
Let’s start with where you are when you come to that first therapy session….
If you are interested in these perspectives I recommend the websites, writings and You Tube clips of the following:
Dr Peter Fenner Sri Nisagadatta Maharaj Rupert Spira Mooji Eckhart Tolle Papaji
For more information or to discuss your particular situation please call me on 0411 435 972 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. My practice is in Chatswood, Sydney; Skype sessions are also available.
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Copyright (c) Adrian van den Bok, 2017