06 Oct 2011
October 6, 2011

They Are Not the Buddha


How do we heal our emotional bodies and how do you see the role of psychotherapy in all this?

As you quiet your mind, you begin to see the different components of your being and which ones are out of harmony in the Universe. You can see, for example, that your body energies are out of balance and that you have to work on your body. You have to move the energies in a different way, or strengthen your muscles, or do something, because you can feel that it’s draining energy.  It’s pulling upon you. Or, in the psychodynamic sense, you can begin to see that there are patterns of the way in which you’re seeing the Universe that are blocking energy. That would be a way of saying that.  At that point, you may go to somebody who is in the business of mirroring on that plane of reality. Somebody who knows how to work with that plane of reality.  Somebody with whom, when you present your psychodynamics, they are like a fair witness.  They can see the way in which you are caught.  And they allow you to see the way you are caught in a way you can’t see it.  In other words, there are times when your history, emotional history, leaves you weird, if you will, or out of balance. And such that you can’t see it clearly.  You can’t get behind it well enough to see it, and so you go to somebody who is in the business of seeing that clearly.

Now, when you go to a psychotherapist, they are not the Buddha; and they are not the Goddess Tara; and they are not the enlightened being.  They are just a therapist.  They are a fellow human being.  So, don’t expect them to liberate you. I don’t mean this is a pejorative sense; when you have a dent in your fender of your automobile, you go to a fender repair person. When you have a personality imbalance, you go to a personality person. You don’t expect the body and fender repair person to liberate you. You expect them to fix your automobile. What we have done, is we have elevated psychotherapists into the medicine people of the society. And they are not really the medicine people. Psychotherapists are not happier than anybody else necessarily. The way that I can see it.  I mean I have studied a lot of them. And they sure aren’t. And that’s because their work isn’t necessarily liberating them from suffering. All it is doing is reorganizing their dynamics of human interaction to allow them to cope and adjust better.  But that doesn’t liberate, and that isn’t the ultimate happiness. That is the problem.

So, you can go to a therapist for that particular purpose without expecting, and then being disappointed because they don’t liberate you. Because only a therapist that is working on themselves from a spiritual point of view would be somebody that can be a therapist without getting lost in the role of being a therapist. Most therapists need to be identified as the therapist in order for their own ego to be adequate. I mean, a therapist that needs you to get better for them to feel their self worth. It’s like asking a therapist, “What is it that you feel when a patient comes into your office, or a client? What is your contract with them? Is your contract with them to heal them, or is your contract merely to be an environment where they can heal themselves if they wish to?   And can you justify taking money from somebody if you are just an environment, or is there a subtle thing in the contract — you pay me — I’ll make you better?”  And if that’s the one, it’s a very sick one.  It’s a problem. It is a definite problem.  Because your desire to make that person better awakens resistance in that person, and you are both dealing with transference of all kinds.  It’s very complex stuff.  So what I suggest is that like I have very often done — many of my friends who are very deep in spiritual practice have gone into practice more and more deeply and they have gotten to the point to where they become aware of the way their psychodynamics are stuck. And that their spiritual practices don’t get at that easily. And then they go to a therapist, work with the therapist for awhile, clean up that, open that, because it’s ripe to open.  It’s like cracking a nut when it’s just ripe. Then they go back into spiritual practice.

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  • Steve

    Ram Dass is much nicer about it than I am…Namaste.

  • http://shimmeringdeadend.org jody

    Anyone is a “fellow human being,” including any guru you might meet. When you look at the track record of all gurus in terms of the number of devotees liberated, they all pretty much stink. Thus, you are probably much better off with a good therapist in most cases. They may not liberate you, but they are much more qualified to help you in your adjustment to yourself and your life. That’s more than can be said for most spiritual gurus.

  • Laquitta Andrews

    Thank you so much for this article.
    Love! Koya

  • Maria

    It’s such a funny thing to be ‘a therapist’ – the role category is weird, bizarre even. But there you are, that is what has been given as a place in society to be with people on their journey. My therapist told me years ago – you can pay me for my time, but my love is mine to freely give – and of course I see now that to work/be with someone you have to love/try to love them/see that-of-God in them. I see my own practice as my discipline – like you have said – the only thing we have to give is ourselves and our work on ourselves. I feel like its a sacred space, and I might as well be the client, but the role/or lila we play, is that I’m the ‘therapist’/mirror – just like when I call to heart 2 heart with you, I know/imagine that just as I feel Maharaj-ji in you, you are experiencing the same in/through me. 20 years ago they were just letting thoughts back into the therapy room and then feelings. Thank Goddess ‘they’ now let spirituality in – even welcome it. And of course if there is pressure/or a need on my part for the other person in the room to ‘get better’ then there is no space for any growth/healing/love anyway. Weird, no? A supervisor that I loved, shared that she was as intimate in the therapy room as she was anywhere in her life – perhaps without sharing all the details, but that is what I feel when I speak intimately with someone on or about my spiritual journey as well. A deep intimacy. A discarding with having to stay on the surface. A willingness to swim in the ocean of confusion, pain, joy, Life together. Interesting. Namaste Ram Dass. Thank you for all your sharings and teachings. Love Ram Love Ram

  • Emily Warren

    This entry is so true. I have been a therapist and really struggled with preserving my Spirit energy. In all the areas of work, I always felt zapped and depleted. I recognized this and decided to change my career. Funny. Now being unemployed, I have had days where I just can’t clear my head of negativeness. Other days, I’m more balanced and feel alright with my situation. I have often felt desperate to talk to a therapist, or to anyone for that matter, to somehow get feedback that settles my mind. It’s an urge I get every couple of days. I think I should be able to balance myself out without any input. I have the ability. Yet, day to day I flip flop from feeling content and strong in Spirit to feeling fearful and weak in my confidence.

  • Tim Allen

    good to hear that , it answers some questions i’ve had about people being on a spiritual path but are lacking in their own self reflection, cracking their own core beliefs. Lately Iv’e been reading Alice Miller,’The Body Never Lies”: here she takes on the ‘Taboo” of the Four
    Commandment In honoring thy mother and father…heres a quote “the strange idea of having to love God so that He does not punish me for my rebelliousness and disappointment,but instead rewards me with the love that forgives all, becomes just as much the expression of our childish depenency and insecurity as the assumption that like our parents, God is in desperate need of our love… a higher being dependant on inauthentic feelings dictated by morality is strongly reminiscent of the insecurity displayed by our frustrated and disoriented parents…

  • Garth Libre

    Ram Dass,

    I’ve been with you to one degree or another, since 1972 when I visited a friend in St. Vincent’s Psychiatric Ward in Manhattan. He and other patients were passing around a copy of Be here Now. (My friend was not really mentally disturbed, but was just looking for free room and board. It was more than he bargained for when he checked himself in though). Later, in about 1979, when I was coming back to New York on the Red Eye train, a stranger gave me a copy of “The only dance there is”. I thought that that night,my back was only minorly injured, but the stranger correctly predicted that I was nearing the end of my beloved ballet career, and that my injury was indeed very serious.

    I think that since that time, I’ve been living in more or less constant mourning for the loss of my ability to “fly” as an immortal, invincible ballet dancer. About eight years ago, I became a father, at 49 years of age. Since that time I’ve experienced a growing love for my son so deep that I feel that original ecstatic joy in much of what I do. Through all of this, I must admit that I’m afraid to die. I am no longer feel I am that immortal, powerful ballet dancer effortlessly flying through space. I am very delicate, and know that I am approaching my own eventual demise.

    I used to look at you as my buddy, laughing at life. It seemed that together we were enjoying a joke that only a few could understand. Now, I see that even for the very smart and very hip, life is real kick in the ass. I wish I had your courage. I am coward, shaking at the gates of the infinite. Sometimes I feel like asking for a little help, but I don’t trust many to get me over my cowardice.

    Love Garth