One persons perspective. He or she asks how we could respond if "How can we handle external threats if we deconstructed our beliefs so much that external dangers are not see as “evil” or “dangerous”?"
(excerpt from a longer article)
Here are some problems I see with her teaching:
1. BK proposes we inquire into and see the unreality of all thought and thought-referents (objects in the world). This could have disastrous consequences for humanity. One of the things that make us human is our conscience, our sense of right and wrong.
How would we react in the face of evil if we didn’t see it as evil? How can we handle external threats if we deconstructed our beliefs so much that external dangers are not see as “evil” or “dangerous”?
She gives the example of a nazi throwing a baby into a flaming pit. This act she says is God. “God is what-is. And until we can accept our baby being destroyed we cannot come to terms with God, with reality” (Paraphrase from Losing the Moon.)
What kind of power will this leave us with if we all — or many of us — deconstructed our sense of right, wrong, and justice? Imagine a scenario with aliens invading and wiping us out. Would we have the moral fortitude and strength to defeat such an enemy if instantly all of our thoughts were met with “Is this true?.. is this really true?… how do I feel when I believe this thought?…”
The comments following this article make interesting reading. Comment #39 is from a person who was involved in what became a psychotherapy cult, The Center for Feeling Therapy.
And in Comment 42, the writer, a therapist says this
I’m a psychotherapist and have been practicing buddhism this way and that for a lot of years. KB’s little 4-step can be a wonderful tool – it’s really in the tradition of cognitive therapy, radicalized by some non-dualistic perspective.
I say perspective because, as someone up there notes, she’s an absolutist (and absolutism has a funny way of slithering into nilhilism), and that doesn’t hold philosophical or ethical water. It’s terrific for busting blind judgements and real projections and painful false beliefs. And I now would stop there.
Because it’s dangerous.
It might be helpful for an abused person to turn around “He shouldn’t have raped me” and discover “I shouldn’t rape myself (every time i get hooked into obsessive and painful replays)”, but that’s (Corboys italics) slippery and had better be pretty carefully worked.
And “He should have raped me” is a notion that only works at a level where no one needs any 4 step anyway.
I had a horribly childhood-abused PTSD client who spontaneously declared one day, “I don’t want to do the victim thing any more. I wouldn’t be who I am, and I wouldn’t know what I know if it hadn’t happened. It’s incredible. I feel wonderful, it’s somehow just this incredible, insane totally valuable moment of my very own life.”
That held. She really got a lot of release with that insight. And I asked her later what she’d do if she came across a man raping a child now. “I’d try to blow his brains out”, said she. So that’s no hesitation, anyway.
It’s also story-bound, that business of finding a way to incorporate suffering into your narrative. Limited, relative. But Katie’s not Nagarjuna, either. I’ve settled (uneasily) with the formulation of an ultimate and a relative reality that appears in some Buddhist schools… Might be framed as “Nothing is inherently and objectively real, it’s a dream, a flash of lightning, a dewdrop, etc. — but hey, tie your horse to a tree.” In this vast seamless perfection it’s also not OK to throw a baby into a flaming pit.
KB covers this problem of right judgement, discernment, discrimination, when she talks about not going into the yard of a biting dog. Reckon one might also shoot that dog if it’s a Nazi running off with baby.
But there’s a problem with the biting dog being perfect and perfectly doing its perfect job over in the relative reality, which she has to deny. She’s stuck.
And she’s charismatic and adored and I believe absolutely sincere, and the money is rolling in, and teachers like this have a wretched tendency to gradually go narcissistic and mad. The stories rolling in now are achingly familiar. Sigh.
In the Bardo realm blissful heaven’s at the top, but you don’t get to stay there, you get blissed and blind and tumble back into hell, which is utter paranoia. This is what happened to Osho I think, and maybe Trungpa.
It’s my favorite sad joke – “too much emptiness!” In psychological terms it’s the return of the repressed.
As someone said, it’s a terrific trick and genuinely liberating in one sense. But be careful.
I can cite a real-life example of what can happen in a scenario where we do not make a distinction between not-dangerous vs dangerous-fight-back-NOW!
Here it is, in the form of two dog stories.
Once, I met a woman with a very friendly dog. The dog was a labrador/pit bull mix, but in this dog, the labrador temperament dominated.
This dog perceived everyone as 'friend'. The catagory of 'not-friend' apparently did not exist in this dogs computational process.
"Our place was burlarized while he was in the house," his owner shook her head, looking at this big, happy galoot of a dog.
'And our neighbors never heard him bark--not once.'
This dog had perceived the thief as no different from his or her family, and made no racket, while the intruder selected and stole away the valuables.
On the other hand, there are dogs who make a clear distinction between family/vs-not family.
A guy in college told us he put his Doberman Pinscher in the back seat of his car, while running an errand.
When he returned, there stood a would be car thief, trapped.
The thief had reached in through the window, and the Dobie dog knew this dog was NOT her owner. She treated him as an intruder, grasped hard at his hand, and he could not budge, because if he tried, she clenched her teeth harder.
The police came and arrested him.
That dog, unlike that Lab mix desribed earlier, could make a clear, and useful
dual distinction between family (wag tail) and non-family (bark and bite and prevent