Sacred Mirror Review
by Jerry Katz
. . . A multi-part look at an important book . . . 

Jerry presents his review as a serialized chapter by chapter part of the ongoing NonDual Highlights series. The first appears in NDH 1885. The book's full title is The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, and is edited by John J Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal. Besides the editors, other contributors are Adyashanti, Dan Berkow, Stephan Bodian, Dorothy Hunt, Lynn Marie Lumiere, Richard Miller, John Welwood, Jennifer Welwood and Bryan Wittine. More information about this book is available from the publisher, Paragon House.

I present his reviews somewhat reduced for space but similarly organized. Full reviews are available via the links to each edition of NDH. And in NDH 1967 he has created a cohesive synthesis of all his reviews and presented it in one piece. Read on here for the snippets in their original flavour . . . 

The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy

from NDH 1885, reviewing the Introduction:

I am going to review this book in an unusual way. In sections. As I read them. Hence this approach may be called more a summarization than a review, yet you will hear the voice of a reviewer -- an opinioned or questioning or judging one -- coming through.

I'd like to begin with a review of the Introduction. The author is John J Prendergast, PhD. Dr Prendergast is an adjunct assistant professor of psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an author, teacher, and in private practice. His primary teacher was Jean Klein and he currently studies with Adyashanti.

Speaking to therapists Prendergast says, "We can touch the core of a client's contraction even as we retain a sense of spacious detachment." 

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from NDH 1887, Chapter 2: Peter Fenner

Peter Fenner, PhD, was an ordained monk who now offers courses, workshops, contemplative dialogues, retreats, and counseling. Information may be accessed through his website, http://wisdom.org. He has written several books and articles.

Fenner is very clear about the nothingness of nondual therapy: "...we know that there is no such thing as 'nondual therapy.' What makes nondual therapy unique is that it doesn't exist!" At the same time he devotes the bulk of the chapter on a structure for the nature and ways of therapy. Here is the outline of that structure:

THE HALLMARKS OF NONDUAL THERAPIES
-- The unconditioned mind is introduced and discussed in the context of therapy
-- The unconditioned mind as the "ultimate medicine"
-- Resting in the unconditioned mind is a state beyond suffering
-- A homing instinct toward the unconditioned mind
-- The unconditioned mind reconditions thought patterns and emotions
-- Living in the here and now
-- "The experience of the unconditioned mind is cultivated in the midst of our everyday existence."
-- The union of love and wisdom ("The capacity to identify is love. The capacity to disidentify is wisdom. Both arise simultaneously and without any conflict.")

OBSTACLES TO EXPERIENCING THE UNCONDITIONED MIND
-- Our attachment to suffering
-- The habitual need to be doing something
-- Needing to know
-- The need to create meaning
-- Fearful projections about the unconditioned mind

PRACTICES THAT PREPARE AND SUPPORT THE CULTIVATING OF NONDUAL AWARENESS
-- Observing and acknowledging the presence of fixations
-- Discovery of a place free of strong desire
-- Tuning into the present so that there is "completion in the moment"
-- Opening "to the full force and richness of our conditioned existence."
-- Developing serenity
-- Resting in healing-bliss

DISTINCTIVE GUIDELINES FOR NONDUAL THERAPY
-- Holding a space of pure listening and speaking
-- Facilitating "the natural release of fixed beliefs and frozen emotions by creating a space that is free of all pressures to change or be the same."
-- Deconstructing fixations through the Madhyamika system
-- "Naturally arising koans ... as tools for deconstructing our habitual ways of thinking."
-- Using "checking questions" to assess the quality and purity of the unconditioned experience
-- Dancing in the paradoxes of nondual logic

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from NDH 1888, Chapter 3: Interview with Adyashanti by John Prendergast and Sheila Krystal

Adyashanti is a significant character in this book since he is an outsider to the profession of psychotherapy yet works one on one with people who are awakening. His perspectives on nondual therapy would seem to be important. The interviewers ask over two dozen excellent questions, not including follow-up questions and comments. This chapter/interview is about 30 pages long. I'll select a few questions and extract what I believe to be the kernel of Adyashanti's response to each question:

"What can we do as therapists, if anything, to help people awaken?"

"Well, be awakened yourself. If one isn't to some extent awake, there's nothing you can do, and you're better off leaving the whole subject alone, because you'll probably do more damage than good."

Not all questions in this chapter bear directly on therapy. Most are of the nature of spiritual psychology and nondual existence. Topics discussed include Ground of Being, grace, embodiment, "watching-experiencing," "love returning for itself," dreaming well, authentic feeling, ego and awakening, thought and Reality, the core story, readiness to awaken, awakening and the subtle body.

Jerry also devotes much space in this issue of NDH to a deep and worthy consideration of "non-referential compassion." This essentially Buddhist term refers to the last of three levels of compassion which approach the nondual. Jerry explores many Buddhist sources which discuss this from different angles. The first is:

The kind of compassion we have described so far is called "compassion with reference to sentient beings." A dualism lingers here, however, because we are still caught by the threefold idea of (1) ourselves experiencing the compassion, (2) other beings as the objects of compassion, and (3) the actual act of feeling compassion through understanding or perceiving the suffering of others.

This framework prepares our path in the Mahayana. Once this kind of compassion has been established, we arrive at a second understanding: The realization begins to grow that the self which is feeling the compassion, the objects of the compassion, and the compassion itself are all in a certain sense illusory. We see that these three aspects belong to a conventional, not ultimate, reality. They are nothing in themselves, but simply illusions that create the appearance of a dualistic framework. Perceiving these illusions and thereby understanding the true emptiness of all phenomena and experience is what we call "compassion with reference to all phenomena." This is the main path of Mahayana practice.

From this second kind of compassion a third develops, "non-referential compassion." Here we entirely transcend any concern with subject/object reference. It is the ultimate experience that results in Buddhahood. All these three levels of compassion are connected, so if we begin with the basic level by developing loving-kindness and compassion towards all living beings, we lay a foundation which guarantees that our path will lead directly to Enlightenment.

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from NDH 1892, Chapter 4: John Prendergast

"When we look into an ordinary mirror, we see how we appear. When we look into a sacred mirror, we see who we are."

The role of "sacred mirror" has traditionally belonged to the guru or spiritual teacher. This chapter describes how the role is being played by the therapist and explores ways of including this function into transpersonal psychology.

Prendergast engages a nonintentional eye gazing which brings presence into the foreground for both therapist and client. In this process defences, reactivities, and personal difficulties are released or opened up to a large shared space in which they could more easily dissolve. He calls this experience 'being together'.

The role of therapeutic mirroring in modern psychotherapy is briefly reviewed with emphasis upon Freud, who prohibited visual mirroring, and upon the contribution by Carl Rogers, who introduced the transpersonal or spiritual dimension of mirroring.

The author spends the bulk of the chapter describing 'being together' in detail. Half the 26 page chapter is devoted to client experiences with sacred mirror or 'being together.' There is the presentation of a single case with one called Armand in which the levels or phases of breakthrough achieved over 82 sessions are described. These include conventional psychotherapy at the beginning. Ultimately, Armand could write, "Experiences of opening give me a glimpse of what seems to be the truth of being. Against the experience, the activities of daily life lose their significance. My life is being slowly reset with this new compass."

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from NDH 1894, Chapter 5: Sheila Krystal

Consisting of two sections: The first, Psychotherapy as Satsang, and the second, on EMDR

This section lays out the nondual approach to therapy. These are the main points from this section. They could be elaborated with material from preceding and following chapters to form a more complete listing of foundational points, and the reviewer will do that at a later time:

-- Nondual therapy has roots in traditional spiritual discipline: Dzogchen, Advaita, Taoism, Kabbalism, mystical Christianity

-- Nondual psychotherapy is a coming together of therapist and client in a way that is like satsang (association with truth).

-- Nondual psychotherapy begins dualistically or conventionally with identification and description of the client's problems and the development of a personal history.

-- In the nondual approach to therapy there is the absence of promotion of method, theory and mind. "The Self meets itself in the sacred mirror of satsang."

-- Though no method is promoted, methods that are part of the therapist's repertoire are used. Their use arises spontaneously within the moment. They are not held to any more than a sip of tea at an appropriate time is held to as method. It arises. The therapist's focus is on that which exists prior to thought and emotion. It is naturally on Presence.

-- The practice of nondual psychotherapy can be a sadhana or spiritual practice for the therapist.

-- Over a period of time the client comes to rest in Presence and the idea of the problem becomes deconstructed in that space.

[The disclaimer about "no method" notwithstanding, the second section is:]

EMDR and Nondual Wisdom

EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. For the reader who has some familiarity with EMDR, this chapter gives an excellent, sometimes sizzling, introduction. Having no knowledge at all of EMDR or the associated terminology, I had to search online for background information, which helped me more fully appreciate what Krystal has compiled. There is a good article at http://netpsych.com/health/emd.htm.

EMDR was originally used to treat trauma but is now used to treat all clinical compaints. I've strung together some quotations from this section by Krystal on nondual wisdom and EMDR:

"EMDR is useful in dissolving fixated attachments and in bringing to the surface unconscious distractions, often associated with trauma, from present awareness of Self. As clients' mindfulness develops, they begin to discern more clearly and quickly when awareness has become distracted from itself. Clients learn to come back from suffering and dysfuntion to the eternal present, underlying peace. They learn that life takes care of itself effortlessly in the moment. ... In EMDR therapy, behavior modification and symptom removal are often the results of treatment. The mind is directly influenced, filtering out reactivity and intense emotions so that the client is more peaceful... . ... From the nondual perspective, EMDR reprocessing can invite entrainment via the interconnectedness of the therapist and client and can naturally recondition the client around the universal themes of impermanence, trust in Self, nonabidance in the mind, loving kindness, forgiveness, compassion, freedom, creativity, well-being, detachment, and the renunciation of habitual preoccupations of mind. ... EMDR gives clients the direct experience of emotions arising out of nothing, growing, peaking, subsiding, and disappearing into emptiness. ... (Clients) learn to disidentify from the personality's vicissitudes of thought and emotion and to identify with a deeper stratum of Being. Although formless, it goes by all names and shows up as all forms, so call it awareness, openness, or Presence; it is eternal and provides the only true security."

It is clear from the above quotations that EMDR supports the arising of nondual awareness.

A Transpersonal EMDR Protocol

Realizing the nondual effectiveness of EMDR in her practice, Krystal redefined the acronym to "eye movement disidentification (from the self and its apparent problems) and recognition (of the one Self)."

Krystal likens EMDR to an alchemical container which structures the therapy session so that the "great work" can simmer and the spontaneous arise. The protocol does not impose form but flexes and evolves as the client deepens in nondual awareness. Even with that intimacy between method and nondual perception, Krystal asserts that EMDR is not to be limited to transpersonal psychotherapy, nor is it to become established as method of "nondual EMDR." She says, "It is a suggested form to help discover and dissolve distractions from the formless." Since both client and therapist mingle in the alembic of the EMDR protocol, satsang is promoted. That is, both client and therepist benefit from the protocol.

In this section of the chapter the protocol for Transpersonal EMDR is described. Enough detail is given, along with a bibliographical reference to the complete protocol, so that a potential client or practitioner can decide whether or not to pursue their interest in the nondual approach to EMDR. In any case, the reader becomes informed and will probably find resonance with the author's approach and her commitment to Transpersonal EMDR as a vessel for transformation.

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from NDH 1895, Chapter 6: John Welwood

John Welwood, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist in San Francisco. He is the editor of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology and has written several books published by Shambhala and HarperCollins.

The theme of this chapter is stated in the following passage: "Being fully human means honoring both these truths -- immanence, or fully engaging with our humanness, and transcendence, or liberation -- equally. If we try to deny our vulnerability, we lose touch with our heart; if we fail to realize our indestructibility, we lose access to enlightened mind. To be fully human means standing willingly and consciously in both dimensions."

I'm going to offer my summary of this chapter as a series of quotations, rather than try to transform them into my own words. I have the feeling this chapter could be pivotal to the entire book and putting it into my own words will have to wait until the book as a whole is reviewed. To remind the reader, I'm writing summary/reviews of each chapter from this book as I read them. I haven't read the whole book yet!

"Nondual teachings that mainly emphasize the illusory quality of human experience can, unfortunately, serve as just another dehumanizing force in a world where our basic humanity is already under siege at every turn. What is needed in these difficult times instead is a liberation spirituality that helps people recognize nondual presence as a basis for fully inhabiting their humanity, rather than as a rationale for disengaging from it. We need a spiritual vision that values and includes the central playing-field where our humanity expresses itself -- relationship."

"The conditioned ego, identified with roles and identities formed in the past, is incapable of true relationship. Similarly, in timeless, nondual awareness, there is also no relationship; there is only direct knowing, silent presence without involvement in the polarity of self and other. So to be fully engaged in relationship, we have to step into and inhabit our human form -- the person."

Spiritual bypassing: "When people try to bypass, or prematurely transcend, their current psychological condition by trying to live up to some noble spiritual ideal (such as nondual perspective) this does violence to where they are. And it strengthens the spiritual superego, the inner voice that tells them they should be something other than they are, thereby reinforcing their disconnection from themselves."

"To avoid spiritual bypassing, transcendent truth needs to be grounded in a willingness to wade in and immerse ourselves in the stormy waves of immanence. We need to broaden the terms of the equation that offers only a choice between samsaric, dualistic mind and enlightened, nondual awareness. We need to include a third, intermediate term in the equation -- the relational play of human experience, where evolution takes place as heaven manifests on earth, infinity infuses finitude, and eternity embodies itself in time."

"The hard truth is that spiritual realizations often do not heal our deep wounding in the area of love, or translate readily into skillful communication or interpersonal understanding. ... Most modern spiritual practitioners ... continue to act out unconscious relational patterns developed in childhood."

"(Human relationship) is a great wilderness in which humanity has hardly begun to find its way. Developing more conscious relationships is an important next frontier in human evolution. And this will require a capacity to marry nondual realization -- which dissolves fixation on the separate self -- with careful attention to personal relational patterns that block or distort the free flow of loving presence."

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from NDH 1899, Chapter 7: Dorothy Hunt

Dorothy Hunt is founder of the San Francisco Center for Meditation and Psychotherapy. She has practiced psychotherapy since 1967, led workshops, presented at conferences, and edited and published various works. Her significant teachers include Mother Theresa, Ramana Maharshi, Ramesh Balsekar, and Adyashanti.

Unlike previous chapters, client experiences are interwoven throughout the entire chapter rather than given their own section. There are several points to highlight:

-- "When what is awake directly touches its own experience of anything, there is deep intimacy with what is. ... In this intimacy we find ourselves undivided."

--"[This realization of our undivided being] is unfailingly healing because it experiences itself as a whole."

-- Healing manifests by "continual invitation to the direct experience of the moment as it is." The direct and fully experiencing of anything, from joy to fear, beauty to horror, or the mundane, is an opening to the taste of nonseparate being. Client dialogue is given as an example of this invitation to direct experience.

A concluding paragraph:

"To experience this very moment directly, authentically, intimately, is to experience our being, our awakeness, our love, our truth. To do so heals the pain of separation. To allow things, moments, people, feelings, to be is felt as deeply loving. Grief, anger, boredom, fear, deeply appreciate being able to just be what they are. Sadness is very happy when it can just be sad. We do not have to create stories to sustain, or stories to deny our experience. Neither do we or our clients have to 'try' to be compassionate, or 'learn' to be loving. Compassion arises naturally in the presence of direct, authentic experience and the silence of our true being."

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from NDH 1901, Chapter 8: Dan Berkow

-- A psychology of no-thingness is aligned with Zen Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. This represents a shift in psychology: "Psychology will move toward release of suffering as its orientation rather than continuing its current directions of viewing indivinduals as carrying disorders, carrying strengths, and wanting to solidify an adjusted and efficient self through positive self-esteem."

-- A psychology of no-thingness refreshes the relationship between the human and non-human environments. "Relationship is now a field of being." The environment is not a separate entity to be manipulated to satisfy needs.

-- A psychology of no-thingness engages a therapy of relinquishment of attachments and illusions and is not a promotion of positive self-images.

-- "Awareness becomes seemingly split from itself when it conceptualizes a position in here looking out there and remembers experiences in terms of my pain that I was unable to avoid and my pleasure that I tried to keep."

-- "The psychological split is healed when pain is neither retained nor defended against psychologically."

-- "A psychology of no-thingness involves being as is, without imposing views or expectations to change or stay the same. It involves neither fixing anything or witholding assistance. ... This present moment is the freedom that clients erroneously perceive themselves as lacking."

-- "The full challenge of therapy involves release of the sense of self that depended on identification with constructed personal history and the resulting projections. Enhanced self-integration may be a temporary aspect of personal process, leading to sufficient trust in the process of being to relinquish the self at center."

--  The moment of healing does not arise out of a new strategy, is not created through manipulation, nor does it manifest through education or urgent warnings, advice, or appeals. It is the moment of the dropping or falling away of strategies, manipulations, information and insistences; the moment that simply being present is revealed as always what is.

-- Relationship may be understood thusly: "rather than two separated individuals attempting to join together to do therapy, we have a whole situation spontaneously arising. This relationship isn't fused, nor is it split into divided subjects and objects. The therapist's being is present not only with the client, but as the client."

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from NDH 1902, Chapter 9: Richard C. Miller

After discussing the origin of Yoga Nidra and his first experiences with it beginning in 1970, Miller discusses Yoga Nidra and psychotherapy:

"Through its straighforward process of attending to naturally occurring experiences of opposites of sensation, emotion, thought, belief, imagery, and identity, it awakens the discriminating insight that every experinece, when fully allowed, is both an expression of as well as a pointer to our underlying nondual Nature. Further, Yoga Nidra affirms that when we abide as That, integration and healing unfold spontaneously, conflict and suffering cease naturally, and freedom is recognized to be our innate disposition."

There are two phases in Yoga Nidra when applied to psychotherapy. There is a constructive phase in which the client becomes a psychological whole capable of  processing a life of experiences. It is an integrative phase. The second phase is deconstructive and Yoga Nidra is most useful in this phase, where "the accent is on transcending separative ego-identity and realizing one's inherent spiritual identity as impersonal unitive Awareness."

This chapter is richly supplemented with descriptions of client experiences that illustrate the principles set forth.

"Self-inquiry deconstructs ego-identity and its miragelike reality, opening the ground for latent nondual Presence to spontaneously flood into the foreground. In this moment clients reclaim their real freedom as unchanging, nondual Presence that is both immanent and transcendent in every moment of life. This is the fulfillment of Yoga Nidra and the completion of psychotherapy."

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from NDH 1906, Chapter 10: Stephan Bodian

Bodian studied Zen intensely in the early 70's, up to 1982, when he pursued his own psychotherapy and studied psychology in graduate school. "I never felt that Zen offered a complete approach to spiritual and psychological development. In particular I noticed that despite numerous deep spiritual insights, I continued to respond to certain situations with inexplicable anger, sadness, and anxiety."

Bodian learned the standard psychotherapeutic interview as a new mode of inquiry. The limitation of this approach was that it created new layers of stories.

While studying psychology he met Jean Klein, a master of Advaita. Bodian had a powerful awakening under Klein that deepend and stabilized over ten years. But there was still a split between the insight and the patterns of thinking and behavior that were known as limitation and suffering.

Finally he encountered The Work of Byron Katie. "Under the influence of (Byron Katie's) approach I finally discovered the already-exisiting, inherent integration of awareness and the contents of awareness as a truly nondual, undivided reality."

"The inquiry that I describe in this essay, which now arises naturally with my clients, draws upon The Work, the self-inquiry of Advaita Vedanta, and the phenomenological investigation of experiential psychotherapy."

"In its deconstructive approach, nondual therapy resembles other depth psychotherapies, such as the existential-humanistic approach taught by James Bugental. But instead of challenging and disclosing the client's 'self and world construct system' (Bugental's term), only to replace it with a more 'authentic' construct, nondual therapy gradually -- and gently, since there's no agenda, just a natural orientation toward the truth -- deconstructs this system entirely."

"Unlike cognitive-behavioral therapy, which works to replace negative, dysfunctional cognitions with more positive, functional ones, nondual therapy doesn't necessarily discriminate between good and bad cognitions or try to replace some with others. Rather, the fundamental understanding is that no cognitions or concepts of any kind can possibly encompass reality as it is, which is ultimately ungraspable by the mind."

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from NDH 1908, Chapter 11: Lynn Marie Lumiere

Lumiere is a licensed Marriage, Family Therapist. She has worked with trauma and trauma-related issues for fifteen years. Her orientation is transpersonal and somatic.

This chapter begins with Lumiere setting forth that nondual awareness is unconditional love and as such accepts extreme ecstasy and extreme trauma equally. "It is only in this embrace of the manifest by the unmanifest that true transformation or healing takes place," she says.

Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. is quoted for his definition of trauma: "the inability to be present with what is in the here and now." Trauma is destabilizing, bringing us out of the here and now and into the re-living of the past trauma. Lumiere says, "Healing trauma requires being present with what is in the moment."

As part of her concluding statement to this chapter, Lumiere says, "Because its effects are so intense and pervasive, trauma can be a catalyst for profound surrender and awakening. I see it as a wake-up call for the human race. Trauma is a primary cause of human suffering, and yet it can only be truly resolved by coming home to the eternal now. In the healing of trauma, we must let go of the mind's illusion of control and discover the beingness that is always present."

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from NDH 1909, Chapter 12: Bryan Wittine

Bryan Wittine, PhD is a Jungian analyst in private practice and on the faculty at the CG Jung Institute of San Francisco. He has been active and influential in other areas of academia, authored numerous papers, and lectured around the world. His spiritual training is most notably in Vajrayana Buddhism and Christian mysticism.

"This chapter is about the journey in Jungian analysis of a spiritual seeker named 'Jenna,' who longed to know God. It is also about a defensive process I call 'psychospiritual splitting,' which nearly derailed Jenna's quest. Finally, it is about our analytical relationship and a nondual understanding of spirituality; both of which were central to her journey."

Such splitting is described by the author: "In our naivete we approach spiritual practice longing to attain liberation, but in doing so we neglect to care for our sacred manifestation, the conscious and unconscious aspects of our physical bodies and personal psyches. This leaves us practicing a dualistic spirituality that perpetuates the split and leaves us feeling enfeebled and adrift, lacking creative energy, and hiding our shadow behind inflated spiritual feelings and beliefs."

Wittine cites specific difficulties associated with psychospiritual splitting. "First is the tendency to use images of God to compensate for unmet childhood needs; second is the potential for ego-inflation if we identify with these images." These tendencies drive our traumas and wounds deeper into the unconscious. "Often it is only by suffering a profound dark night of the ego that we let go of our inflated self-images, reclaim our wounded parts, and begin to realize our true identity as the formless Self beyond all images of God. The formless Self might then use our illumined and individuated personality as a vessel through which to radiate the love, wisdom, and power of our true nature out into the world, into all the activities of our daily life."

Jenna's dark night of the ego is described and the change in her spiritual orientation that arose. "An important benchmark of this period occurred when she asked me what kind of meditation practice might suit her now that she had no interest in visualizations." Wittine informed her of the teachings of Ramana Maharshi. Jenna acquired a copy of Who Am I? "As she lay on the couch she sometimes followed his instructions and posed to herself the question 'Who am I?' The upshot of this was simple and direct. Jenna became more fully aware of awareness itself as the pure presence that witnessed whatever arose in her mind. This left her feeling far more at peace with her child-self and forgiving of her disapproving mother, abandoning father, lover, and students. She also found forgiveness for herself for acting out her shadow-needs with her lover. Finally, Jenna realized that peace and forgiveness were actually attributes of her essential Self."

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from NDH 1913, Chapter 13: Jennifer Welwood

Jennifer Welwood is a psychotherapist in private practice and teaches workshops in the U.S. and Europe. She has specialized in working with groups and couples since 1988.

"In the Heart Sutra of the prajnaparamita tradition, one of Buddhism's most renowned teachings, the great bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara says to Shariputra:

Form is emptiness; emptiness itself is form;
Emptiness is no other than form;
Form is no other than emptiness.

"His words, which may seem incomprehensible at first, point to the nondual nature of reality. But what do they actually mean? Are they something that can be understood in terms of our everyday human experience rather than as an abstract, esoteric philosophy? And what does understanding nonduality have to do with relationship dynamics?"

Thus opens this chapter.

The author explains the sutra for a couple of pages. She points out that emptiness is any threat to the form we hold onto at the moment. She arrives naturally to the statement: "So when we fail to recognize our nature as nondual, not only do form and emptiness become divided, but each also becomes a distorted version of itself. Rather than emptiness being an open expanse whose natural potency generates form, it becomes a negative deficiency that we have to work against in order to maintain form. And rather than form being that which arises naturally out of emptiness, it becomes something that we have to fabricate as an avoidance of emptiness. If we don't make form arise, it won't arise naturally as an expression of emptiness. Emptiness has to be avoided as a threat to form, and form has to be fabricated in opposition to emptiness. And we can see that this is a state of suffering."

The Samsara of Relationship Dynamics

This is a brilliantly told section in which the author reveals her work with a couple in their forties who had been together for about two years. Welwood's introductory statement to this section I found enticing and she delivers the goods: "While our own personal samsaric loops can create tremendous suffering and bring us to the outer layers of hell, to really go all the way down into hell requires another human being. So we'll look at what happens in a relationship when two partners' intrapsychic samsaric loops interact to create an interpersonal samsaric loop."

Here is a statement that concludes this section: "For Linda and Greg then, we could say that they were caught in their samsaric predicament as long as they believed that their nature was really a deficient emptiness. And they became freer as they began to experience their nature as nondual... . The true resolution of their relational difficulties was to become more porous to their deeper nature, which then also gave them a basis for discovering real intimacy."

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