Counselling and mentoring: stages
Buddhist counselling is designed to help sort out your psychological problems and put you on the right path to the ultimate quest – namely to reach enlightenment – and thereby resolve the fundamental mystery of the human condition. This is not as grandiose and impossible an undertaking as it may sound, and anyone with a certain level of consistent commitment is well placed to make a start. After all, it is part of our basic inner nature to seek answers to the big questions of life and existence, and there is no reason why you should not succeed in the quest.
The inner rationale or logic of Buddhist counselling is that, given a certain very generous definition of ‘normality’ or ‘adequacy’, most of the temporary problems we have to face in life can be sorted out through a combination of calm discussion, analytical insight, and sensible practice; and this then allows you to take a look at the deep underlying mysteries of the human condition, and to make a start in confronting them. None of this involves avoiding or ignoring or downplaying the everyday problems of life, rather it involves analysing these mundane problems from the right perspective, so as to allow yourself to deal with issues of a higher order.
The first phase: normally we start with a discussion of an aspect of your life which is troubling you, or which may be causing you some distress. The length of time we spend on that depends on the extent to which this issue is important to you, but all the time we are looking at ways to go beyond psychological experience into the realms which are key to the resolution of the human condition. If this sounds very cerebral and unexciting, this is mistaken: it is essential to genuine spiritual insight.
The second phase: once you become a genuine spiritual quester, and have embarked on the path to resolve the mystery of the human condition. The basic encounter changes from one in which you seek clarity and advice, to one in which you want to discuss your progress in your metaphysical investigations, and to capitalise on your growing insights into existence and experience. Each person pursues their own path, at their own pace, and to their own satisfaction, and if necessary, progress can be measured by studying writings from the Buddhist tradition.