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Only we can save ourselves

each of his teachers had given him permission to interpret Buddhism in whatever way worked for him. He’d seen how Buddhism meets you wherever you are and lets you take what you can from it at that moment. In fact, it was unlike other faiths in that there weren’t rules, and even its most fundamental precepts were infinitely flexible. But in spite of all that, he still envisioned the Buddha as a kind of deity sitting on a mountaintop, having transcended suffering. He wanted Buddha to lift him up out of San Quentin onto that mountaintop, high above his suffering—to save him. That’s the Buddha he had to kill—the illusion that anything outside ourselves can save us. What he learned is that Buddha can’t save us. Jesus can’t. Allah can’t. Only we can save ourselves.

She admired his ability to bear weight

She admired his ability to bear weight that would crush most people and the joy he exuded in a joyless place. His interpretations of Buddhist teachings inspired her, and his insights helped her achieve a deeper understanding of Buddhist concepts she thought she knew.

When I started teaching comparative mythology

When I started teaching comparative mythology, I was afraid I might destroy my students’ religious beliefs, but what I found was just the opposite. Religious traditions, which didn’t mean very much to them, but which were the ones their parents had given them, suddenly became illuminated in a new way when we compared them with other traditions, where similar images had been given a more inward or spiritual interpretation.

The essence of some of the deepest parts of therapy

The essence of some of the deepest parts of therapy seems to be a unity of experiencing. The client is freely able to experience his feeling in its complete intensity, as a “pure culture,” without intellectual inhibitions or cautions, without having it bounded by knowledge of contradictory feelings; and I am able with equal freedom to experience my understanding of this feeling, without any conscious thought about it, without any apprehension or concern as to where this will lead, without any type of diagnostic or analytic thinking, without any cognitive or emotional barriers to a complete “letting go” in understanding. When there is this complete unity, singleness, fullness of experiencing in the relationship, then it acquires the “out-of-this-world” quality which many therapists have remarked upon, a sort of trance-like feeling in the relationship from which both the client and I emerge at the end of the hour, as if from a deep well or tunnel. In these moments there is, to borrow Buber’s phrase, a real “I-Thou” relationship, a timeless living in the experience which is between the client and me. It is at the opposite pole from seeing the client, or myself, as an object. It is the height of personal subjectivity.