if you meet the buddha on the road, kill him!

this is the title of a book sheldon kopp wrote 30 years ago. i just picked it up again, and it still holds so many truths and so much inspiration for me. some excerpts:

no meaning that comes from outside ourselves is real.

in every age, men have set out on pilgrimages … wishing to learn, and confusing being taught with learning, they often seek out helpers, healers and guides, spiritual teachers whose disciples they would become.

at first, the [client] tries to use the therapist, as many over the centuries have tried to use the i ching …

we are all tempted to view ourselves as men on horseback … too often the pilgrim [kopp’s metaphor for the person on the life journey] lives as though his goal is to become the horseman … [or] he believes that his only option will be either to live the lusty, undirected life of the riderless horse, or to tread the detached, unadventuresome way of the horseless rider … he does not see that there will be no struggle, once he recognizes himself as a centaur.

the protective efforts of the self-appointed sane influence the whole field of psychiatry and psychology. the clinical diagnosis of psychopathology is too often a form of social control. if other people make us nervous by the foreignness of their queer talk and odd behaviour, we give them tranquilizing drugs, lock them away in custodial institutions.

[people’s] image of me [as psychotherapist] is the fantasy that i represent … salvation … to this image they impute characteristics that not only do i not possess, but to which i do not even aspire. often for a time i am seen by the patient as being beyond anxiety, without conflicts, free of weaknesses, never foolish, incapable of evil, and always happy. i experience this idolization as a terrible burden, rather than as the gift of admiration that its wrappings imply.

and then there is his famous laundry list, which containts sayings such as, “love is not enough, but it sure helps”, “it is most important to run out of scapegoats”, and “how strange that so often, it all seems worth it.”

wonderful, insightful words. thanks, sheldon.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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