Buddhism and psychotherapy. Warsaw, 2005

This is a lightly edited transcript of a talk/workshop with James Low.  It arose from a meeting of people interested in, or practising, buddhism, many of whom also had an interest in, or were working within the psychotherapeutic field.

James Low

Warsaw, Poland.  11th and 12th November 2005
Prepared by Magda Linca and Sarah Allen
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Now, I know a lot more, but it’s winter time.

Saraha, the great siddha from Bengal, described how in the winter, the water turns to ice and then in the summer the water from the pond, evaporates, and goes away.  So what is the real water?  Sometimes our mind freezes like ice; we become very sharp, we become very definite; we can’t move.  Sometimes we are relaxed and flowing, like water, able to adapt into any shape that is around.  Other times we get a bit spaced out.  We are all of these three possibilities.  It is important to become like ice, to take on a definite shape.  It is important to become like steam, just to be very, very open and defuse.  And it is important to flow. The problem is if we do them at the wrong time, if we are out of balance with the environment.   So, it’s about developing the freedom to move through the various possibilities of our existence in relation to the experiential field as it arises…
… Nothing lasts forever.  When the spring is there, the flowers will come out; when autumn comes, the flowers die, then in winter we don’t have flowers.  When I began work as a therapist, I didn’t know so much; everything was summer time.  Now, I know a lot more, but it’s winter time.  That’s life.  So many of the things I could do, I now can’t do.This is very important.  It is about how we take our place in the world, according to the season. When winter comes and we shrink, we can learn a lot from that.  If we are lucky, if we are healthy, our lives are advancing. However our patients’ lives are shrinking, so when we know directly a lot about shrinking, on all levels, then we have a more nuanced conversation.

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