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Reconsidering Psychotherapy: A Nondual Opening To Diversity
by Susan Kahn
In this article, I set out to address a nondual audience regarding psychotherapy. My specific aim is to challenge the position that the whole of therapy can be replaced by a nondual approach. While nonduality holds the key to overcoming endless cycles of emotional pain, the notion that there is only one way to address diverse emotional issues and circumstances, can create a limited, fundamentalist lens. Instead, nonduality and psychotherapy can complement each other. Why this is not contradictory is another area of this articles focus.
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People go to nondual teachers to see through the myth of a separate self and all duality, and usually with the hope of alleviating their deepest distress. Nonduality provides the insight to uncover the root of emotional affliction, the whole painful human misunderstanding, and then the opportunity to overturn it.
Comparatively, psychotherapy often misses the primary recognition of selflessness. However, therapy offers effective methods for assessing and responding to a diverse range of emotional difficulties that also need to be considered. This is especially true in early into middle stages of therapy.
To recognize only one method as useful or correct, can be a significant liability.
A nondual approach can potentially overlook important individual difficulties and practical solutions. On the other hand, psychotherapy can attend to branches of issues without end. Each needs to consider the other, even though the function, the job of each, need not be the same.
The different emphasis between nonduality and psychotherapy has its place. Nonduality tends to highlight unity and sameness, while therapy often addresses diverse individual situations. However, nonduality is not at odds with diversity, just as the trunk of a tree is not inherently separate from or at odds with its branches or blossoms.
While there are valid criticisms of therapy from a nondual standpoint, there is a lot to respect within this well investigated, practical field of study. To reduce psychotherapy to a misguidance, to a belief that it is an expendable field of practice merely catering to illusion, can do a great disservice. Nondual diversity recognizes any knowledge as relative and relational, not absolute, and therefore also values practically.
I have heard the nondual critique that therapists view their clients as needing therapy because they see them as broken. If this statement means that there is no separate self to be broken, I see the point. It is the key point, but does not cover the full range of considerations. Despite the absence of an independent self, there are experiences of distress that need to be assessed and responded to. Symptoms matter, not only for the person that they appear to, but for families as well. Would we say that medical doctors are unnecessary because there is no separate physical body?
If someone is depressed, it is not always the best initial response to emphasize that there is truly no one to be depressed. There are various effective methods, some with a greater nondual emphasis and some less, depending upon the individual situation. Addressing emotional affliction is not a one size fits all proposition. If a person is exhibiting self-destructive behavior, one may not want to bring up selflessness right away. If someone is experiencing obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior, there are effective therapeutic strategies to consider. In my opinion, nonduality would do well to include assessment and referrals as a part of its practice.
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Read the entire article here:
Each Moment Reveals the Absolute
by Colin Drake
From birth to death our
life is a series
Of moment to moment experiences.
Comprising thoughts, sensations and mental images
And That which sees these in all of their stages.
A torrent of objects that
come and go
In Awareness, the subject, by which we know.
The constant conscious perceiving presence,
Neath body and mind, our ultimate essence.
consciousness is Awareness whilst at rest,
Within which, in motion*, the cosmos is manifest.
So in Awareness all things come and go,
As in stillness all movements ebb and flow.
Awareness is ever silent
Witnessing all vibrations that mill
Thus It is omniscient and omnipresent,
The substratum from which all things are lent.
In which they are
perceived and reside,
Omnipotent for into This they subside.
Pure and pristine, by things unaffected,
By whose radiance they are detected.
Thus the properties of
Awareness that we have found
Agree with those, of the Absolute, religions propound
Without the personal which the Western ones posit
However, all persons are manifestations of It!
So It does indeed contain
But these are impermanent, therefore not properties.
Thus when each moment we investigate
The Absolute is revealed, totally innate.
* Cosmic energy for energy implies (is synonymous with) motion. Modern physics has shown that all matter is comprised of energy and is thus just a complex series of movements, or vibrations.
Poetry From Beyond the Separate Self: A selection of 20 Poems inspired by chapters of Beyond the Separate Self
Available from http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=Beyond+the+Separate+Self
Paperback version is $9.60 and the e-book (pdf) is only $4.50!
wonderful. -- Cheryl Freeman
That poem is really beautiful! Thanks for sharing it.Dede
The poetry is succinct and I have used it like a sutra. Hugh Tollan
Lovely Manjari Sunder
I want you to know whatever the reason was you have done something no one else has been able to, point me to awakening. - Hanumandass, after reading : Awakening is Immensely Practical.
Colin Drakes other books may be explored and ordered at
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