I was working on two essays on the Arab-Israeli conflict posted at www.integralworld.net and so couldn’t post here.
A friend reminded me of the difference between Buddhist practice as a mode of self-development and psychotherapy. In the last few years, there have been people and books who have tried to integrate the two, but there is a fundamental contradiction between the two. Buddhism is interested in the form of experience and psychotherapy is interested in the content of experience. I had noticed this in the early nineties and it was one reason (not the most important) that I stopped my regular Buddhist meditation practice.
I told my friend that a Buddhist teacher I saw recently probably has a deep experience of impermanence. Knowing that everything changes on deeper and deeper levels is one way to describe the Buddhist path. There is nothing to hold on to. No person, no thing, not even your self. All that we strive for and try to attain will disappear. I told my friend that if I could appreciate that I could stop being so concerned with being a somebody and avoiding being a nobody (which I described in the early posts on this blog). He suggested that you could know about impermanence and still not know your historical process – the succession of events and experiences that, when more deeply appreciated, ground you in your present life and guide you into your future. This is what Judaism and the Kabbalah would look to as a way to live a full life. The importance of “Tradition!” and the history of one’s people as encoded in The Book. Also, the history of one’s self as reconstructed and re-appreciated as done in psychoanalysis, also created by Jews, for the most part.
Two distinct ways of living and engaging life. On the one hand, the content of your life is simply one ever-changing story whose form can be plumbed to experience the nature of all things. On the other hand, the form of you life – the arising of thoughts, feelings and sensations – isn’t meaningful without understanding the unique content of your psyche and history.
Why do we choose one path over another?