Empathy, Reincarnation, Levels of Realization
Suppose, a therapist or potential spouse sincerely and fervently believes in reincarnation?
And you, the client, prospective client, or prospective spouse, do not share that belief.
Let us can use an article about Anthroposophy by Sharon Lombard as starting point for some deep thought. It may be applicable to other belief systems.
Quotes from [www.waldorfcritics.org
I think Sharon Lombard's article can now be read here:
A shorter article, Our Brush with Rudolf Steiner by Sharon Lombard can also be read here
Sharon Lombard did not want a religious upbringing for her child. Her local Waldorf school did not inform her that it was in fact, based on a religion, Anthroposophy, originated by Rudolf Steiner. Anthroposophy has a doctrine of reincarnation and karma. Its adherants believe that creating an environment based on Steiner's principles will actually attract good karma and that even persons completely unaware of Anthroposophy will, if placed in such an environment, get good karmic influences that will be to their future benefit.
And that therefore, it is quite all right to conceal this from people who would, if told all this up front remove themselves from this wonderful karmic influence..
Lombard found to her dismay that Anthroposophy based schools are training lodges in Steinerian ritual. Because she did not know what these people actually aimed to do, she had a sense that what she did as a volunteer was not meeting specifications--that somehow in a way she was not told about, she was falling short.
Anthroposophists, among other material, have a doctrine of reincarnation and of karma. And quite a few other groups do--and take this stuff seriously.
How I, who values life as extremely precious because it is most likely finite, found myself, along with my husband and daughter, participating in a religious movement that embraces reincarnation as a main doctrinal tenet?
So what does this have to do with selecting or deciding to remain with or leave a psychotherapist?
A) If a therapist or boss or prospective spouse persistently obtrudes reincarnation into the relationship, this is grounds for concern.
One can neither prove nor disprove reincarnation. It doenst belong in modern science, which is the mindset on which training and licensing of therapists depends.
Reincarnation is RELIGION or spirituality. Now, do you wanna pay heavy money per hour for that? If you want to, okay. But if you see a troubled friend and urge your friend to consult this therapist of yours who thrills to reincarnation--what if your friend does not share that viewpoint?
If you, the client or prospective client, consider that we have just one life that counts, you may well take things more seriously and feel much more concerned about justice in this life, vs a therapist whose trust in reincarnation gives a more relaxed attitude.
There is the matter of empathy.empathy
- definition of empathy by the Free Online Dictionary ...Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. (The free dictionary)
There has to be a modicum of shared common ground--not identification-but at least some shared common ground/perspective for empathy to be possible.
How can a therapist who believes in reincarnation --that we will get a chance in another life to rectify the horrors of this life--how can a therapist with such a belief system be empathic with the sufferings of a client who considers that there is only one life to live?
The reincarnationalist has an escape hatch. Sure, things can gnarly. But...matters are not capable of tragedy.
A client who considers that we have only one life is going to see matters far more seriously. And may have much more concern about seeing justice done in this lifetime.
A client who is perturbed by family horrors, who has a perpetrator in his or her life or social group who has 'gotten away with it', a client who perhaps has served with the Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders, has come home from combat and has seen horrors and who does consider that there is just one life to live, will have a sense of anguish not shared by someone who buys into reincarnation.
How can a reincarnalist therapist have depth of empathy for and with a client whose anguish is all the keener because that client considers one life to be what matters?
This is important stuff folks. And demonstrates that all religions are not the same underneath.
A very important dimension is--a belief systems sense of time.
Do we have endless time and opportunity? Or not?"If you know what life is worth, you will look to yours on earth.
And then you see the light, you'll stand up for your rights--JAAHHH!
And...some groups not only believe in reincarnation but have remarkably elaborate maps and doctrines and levels of reincarnation. Madame Blavatsky posited one such system in her religion of Theosophy and there are very many more road maps of that sort out there.
If a therapists system of reincarnation and karma regards even the worst horrors visited upon a human being are 'a lesson' or the product of karma from a past life that must be worked through, that may interfere with empathy for a client who does not share that belief, and whose perspective and who considers one life all we can know.
And there are indeed social justice implications.
Parents perturbed by Waldorf schools have reported that at such schools children who are bullied are not given protection because the bullying is regarded as their karma. (It may not be quite as bad at US schools. But in UK Waldorf schools, this point was brought up a lot.
What if a therapist so believes in reincarnation and karma that, without telling the client, he or she believes the clients sufferings are a 'lesson'?
This will give an enviable and remarkable equanimity to the therapist. The client may marvel at the therapists groundedness and perhaps feel inferior.
But not know that this is not the result of wisdom but from a mere belief system that offers an escape hatch, but little opportunity to develop moral heroism because it bypasses tragedy.
Pathei Mathos -- through suffering/ordeal, learning/mastery.