How can we apply what we gain from our spiritual path to improving our relationships? It’s an ongoing question and challenge for all of us.
One of the most useful books I have ever read that addresses this important issue is “ Already Free; Buddhism Meets Psychotherapy on the Path of Liberation “, by renowned psychotherapist Bruce Tift. I turn to this book over and over to help me see patterns and blind spots in my own relationships. It is increasingly clear to me that meditation and Buddhist practices alone do not address the neurosis and the psychological issues that all of us have. And Bruce’s insights are derived from a lifetime of Buddhist practice, conjoined with over thirty years of clinical experience.
Bruce discussed in the book the two approaches. One is Western psychotherapy’s “Developmental” approach, which focuses on gaining an understanding of the way our childhood wounds shape our adult selves. He then reveals how that approach both contradicts and supports the “Fruitional” approach of Buddhism, which tells us that the freedom we seek is always available. He posits that these two approaches will always be somewhat contradictory. He also offers some incredibly useful techniques for connecting with authentic experience, releasing behaviors that no longer serve us, enhancing our relationships, and much more. This is a remarkable book, destined to become a classic.
“When we use the Western and Eastern approaches together they can help us open to all of life—its richness, its disturbances, and its inherent completeness.” – Bruce Tift
Bruce Joined Me for a Discussion titled “Relationships All the Way Down”
I was so inspired by the book that I invited Bruce to discuss the many aspects of relationships, meditation and therapy with me in a public session at the Integral Center in Boulder. The title to our talk is a nod to the turtles all the way down story famous in cosmology. In our context, we meant it playfully to put forth the notion that there is nothing but relationship. There is nothing at any level of reality that stands alone. Everything arises in relationship to everything else. This is one way to talk about “emptiness,” which is arguably the core teaching in Buddhism, and a topic central to this discussion.
Joining theory and practice, East and West, meditation and therapy, we discussed relationship in a new light, one that can help you with any interaction. Listen in as the audience engages in a spirited question and answer, and discover new ways to relate to any difficult situation.
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