This year, I thought it might be interesting to see what would happen if I tried to put the deep and important insights of Meister Eckhart into language which is accessible not only to Christians, but also to others. Here is my first attempt.
ECKHART translated into Wilber terminology
On entering the Causal, the main thing we notice is the absence of things. But we must not fall for the idea that we have given something up. We have not given anything up at all, except illusion and make-believe. We have now got instead a deep awareness, an unwavering pivot, a true opening.
We are now not engaged in doing, inly in being, and accepting. We are watching and waiting, not grasping at all. We are not here, we are everywhere.
Whatever we do now is not ours, it does not belong to us. We have to get out of the way and let be. This brings true peace. We now have to wait, and let be, and learn.
August 18, 2016
MY BIG CV
I had a big CV. It had: Degrees and qualifications; Appointments; Honorary appointments; Offices held; Publications: Books; Translations; Co-written or co-edited books; Chapters in books by others; Papers in refereed journals; Papers in other journals; Other publications. It went on – page after page – substantial – impressive – worthy.
And today I realised that I would never use it again. Never again would I apply for a job. Never again would I have to wait for someone else to judge whether I were worthy, were qualified, were OK.
Of course it was really obvious, not a great surprise. I had not had a boss since 1980. I had been an independent consultant for all that time – and described as such on my conference badges or whatever.
But somehow the realisation was a sobering thought. There was a sadness about it, as though I were really losing something of value, which I had spent many hours honing and perfecting. It was sort of letting go of a support, even if it were a support I didn’t need any more. I was on my own.
Of course I am not on my own: I have a wonderful wife who I have been together with for almost 40 years; I have children and grandchildren from a previous marriage; I have a house; I have friends and colleagues to meet and rely on and enjoy. I am very lucky.
But that was the thought for today. A sad thought. A thought which just came to me out of the blue, out of nowhere.
August 9, 2016
I FORGOT MY MEDITATION
Today I woke up
I forgot my meditation
How could I forget? The day was fair, the sun was warm, the poems were flowing – well, that was just it
So many new sights
So many new thoughts and feelings
So many distractions
Please forgive me
Please make if OK
Please don’t think I have forgotten
Today I did it properly – today I did not forget
Here I am, back again
In love with the Goddess
July 25, 2016
12 July 2016
LAUGHTER IN THERAPY
As far as I know the major research on laughter in therapy was conducted by that great theorist of the humanistic approach, the late Alvin Mahrer (1985). In his 1996 book he says: “Experiential therapists may not be wildly emotional of feeling in their actual lives. They may not be screamers or hard laughers. But in the session, they must be able to have strong feeling. They must be more open than the patient to strong feeling, and to just about any kind of strong feeling… You must allow yourself to undergo pain, hurt, turmoil, anguish, all kinds of bad feelings. In the same way, you must be able to undergo strong good feelings. You must be skilled in undergoing scenes, moments, opportunities of absolute silliness, whimsy, laughter, clowning, rollicking, giggling, and chuckling.” p.175 (This injunction is followed by no less than twelve references to the research literature, including the classic study of 1984 by Mahrer and his wife.)
Before that there was the amazing work of Eileen Walkenstein, who had a completely fresh and unboundaried approach to therapy – full of real humour and fun.
Not well enough known or referred to is the exciting work of Frank Farrelly (Farrelly & Brandsma (1974) which is still being carried on in London by Brian Kaplan. This approach relies a great deal on being open to the incongruous, the quirky, the unexpected. Brian even creates badges for his clients to wear, with humorous references to their supposed problems.
It seems to me that this is a serious challenge to therapists here, whatever their labels or persuasions. Are we bringing into the session the full range of our own capabilities, or are we making a quite restricted choice of what to reveal? Are we allowing our full range of feelings to come into the session, and encouraging the client to do the same? Are we noticing the incongruous and the quirky, the surprising and the funny, and allowing it into the session?
July 12, 2016
12 JUNE 2016
CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE BRAIN
I find it very annoying when people try to make the brain prior to consciousness. If there is a problem of how the brain relates to consciousness, this problem can only be solved by going to a level beyond both of them. The eye of contemplation – also described as the gaze of higher or deeper consciousness – has to be accessed if we are to tackle the brain/mind conundrum.
My own favourite way of putting this is to say that consciousness uses the brain, much as a violinist uses a violin. This makes it easy to say that brain disease of various kinds can put up obstacles to the free flow of consciousness, making it hard to maintain an even keel. In other words, the brain can get in the way of consciousness, but it certainly cannot produce consciousness.
Ken Wilber has said that what we are talking about here is the ultimate question of the relation of Emptiness and Form, Infinite and finite, Spirit and world. In all these cases there is a living process of change and development, exchanges of inner and outer, the interpenetration of opposites. These are easy ideas for a Taoist or a Sufi, but harder for a regular scientist.
The idea that the brain comes first is a typically materialist view, and we have increasingly been finding this inadequate. It is even inadequate for quantum physics, which has no pretensions to spiritual superiority. Of course many people have pointed this out, and I have no need to pick out Wilber particularly as an authority. But come on! It is just ridiculous to say that the brain comes first and consciousness only later. Newborn babies, and even the foetus in the womb, are conscious already, as much research shows, long before their brains are developed much. If you don’t believe this, have a good read of Stan Grof, who has spent 50 years researching it.
It was Elmer and Alice Green who coined the concise statement that ‘all of the brain is in the mind but not all of the mind is in the brain.’ This makes perfect sense to me, but it would be a pain for a standard brain researcher to get his or her mind round it.
Perhaps all this is a bit abstract for some people, but I think it is an important issue, and well worth some agony of appraisal.
June 11, 2016
WHAT KIND OF SCIENCE FOR HUMANS?
5 JUNE 2016
A terrible thing happened when the psychologists decided that psychology was a science. I remember the rejoicing that took place in the British Psychological Society when, some time in the 1980s, psychology was formally admitted into the official list of sciences!
The problem is that most science, because it deals with things and processes and ideas rather than people, can happily use a logic which is entirely suitable for that purpose, which which is no good for understanding or dealing with people. It is called First Tier thinking, and is based on a logic which starts off with statements like: A is A; A is not B; nothing can be A and B at the same time. It goes on to say that every statement is either true or false. This does very well with normal science, though it does run into difficulties at the quantum level. Technically this is called formal logic: it can also be called Aristotelian, Newtonian, Cartesian or Boolean logic. It is the basis of all our computers, where 1 and 0 is all you need.
For dealing with people, however, we need to move on to Second Tier thinking, which starts off with statements like ‘A is not simply A’ and ‘Something can be A and non-A at the same time’. This is a different kind of logic, but it is what we need if we are going to deal with people. If a client comes into my therapy room and I say – “Adam is Adam” – that is completely uninspiring – it leads me nowhere. But if I say instead – “Adam is not simply Adam” – more possibilities open up. In other words, real change is possible here. Technically this is called dialectical logic. It embraces contradictions and paradoxes: a man can be a heartless brute and a sentimental slob at one and the same time: a woman can be a caring mother and a cruel slut at one and the same time. People are like that – complex beings who cannot be summed up in a single phrase. And if psychology tries to deny that and persists in using First Tier thinking, psychology is mad.
Unfortunately, it appears that academia finds it hard to admit this simple truth. Science has to win the day. But science itself is not just one thing. There are two kinds of research in the psychology of people – quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative research has had huge success in establishing itself as the method par excellence for dealing with people in psychology. But qualitative research, which does not use numbers very much, produces results which are much more interesting, and much more human.a
June 5, 2016
22 May 2016
So away we go!!
The Reality Game (3rd edition) is now out, and I have seen the first copies. Very pleased to see it available at last. There are some very significant changes from the previous versions: first, a clear adoption of the HEART formula; second, a very thorough trouncing of the idea of assessment; third, a wholehearted adoption of the theory of the dialogical self, which now takes the place of the old idea of the Unconscious; fourth, a new chapter on the Transpersonal, which was not there before; a much fuller account of the concept of levels of consciousness, this time with all the backing of research from a number of different sources.
I am really pleased with the way it has come out, and now I can go on to some new stuff, which will appear in future blogs.
May 22, 2016
12 April 2016
The Reality Game (3rd edition)
The second edition came out in 1998
This is now complete with the publisher, and should appear next month.
A lot has changed since 1998 in the whole field of therapy, and this
edition is very different from the previous one: this difference is
reflected in the cover picture, which has had to be changed completely
to reflect the current views on the importance of the relational.
It takes the view that what we need now is HEART therapy – that is,
Humanistic, Existential, Authentic, Relational and Transpersonal.
The book tries to cover all of that, and here is the list of chapters:
Psychotherapy, Counselling, Coaching and Personal Growth
Assessment or Not
The Initial Interview
The Opening Sessions
Ways and Means
The Dialogical Self and Transference
The Process of Development
Listening with the Fourth Ear
If anyone would like a leaflet offering a 20% discount, just let me know.
April 11, 2016
John Rowan Masterclass 2016
Saturday 26th March
The Philadelphia Association, 4 Marty’s Yard, 17 Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1PX
10 am to 5 pm £100 or early bird before 1 March £90 Contact: Inforowan@aol.com
HEART therapy (third draft)
HEART stands for Humanistic, Existential, Authentic, Relational, Transpersonal therapy. I now feel that this is the answer to which therapy to adopt. It is demanding and thorough, and I have written about it at length in my new book. Also in the same book is a full treatment of Dialogical Self theory, which replaces the idea of subpersonalities, and also replaces the old idea of the Unconscious. It goes into the question of the transpersonal in a much fuller way than was possible in the previous edition. The book is called ‘The Reality Game – 3rd edition’.
To me this is a revelation, and a real step forward in the search for a therapy which will actually do justice to the whole person. After all, it is the whole person who comes in at the door and needs to be seen and appreciated. And if the person is really infinite, as I believe, then they need a therapy which does justice to that, and does not fob them off with anything less.
I think that the person is a bit like the TARDIS – pretty unimpressive on the outside, but practically infinite on the inside, with huge resources and immense untrodden ways. The person is not a poor limited worm on the face of the earth, but a being of great potential and magical connections.
Missing in most attempts at therapy integration is a real appreciation of the Primal and the Transpersonal. But if we take account of this amazing potential, we can move into a much higher realm of being, where nothing is impossible.
There will now be a new section on Primal Integration, including the classic work of Grof and Lake, the new book by Shirley Ward, and a full booklist.
There will also be an explanation of how to use the work of Barbara Ingram instead of DSM-5, in cases where the therapist is expected to provide a report.
This workshop is experiential, and contains some new exercises, including a simulation of the psilocybin experience. There will be handouts, and an opportunity to buy the new book at a reduced price.
JOHN ROWAN has been working in this field since 1982, and his book on the transpersonal in therapy (Routledge 2005) has become a classic. His more recent work on Personification – using the Dialogical Self in therapy – (Routledge 2010) has ventured into the farther reaches of the transpersonal as well. He has presented workshops in 25 countries. He is a Fellow of the BPS, the BACP and the UKCP.
February 21, 2016
MEETING THE DOLPHIN
We are going to meet a dolphin
A real, real dolphin
But first you sign a waiver
But first you sign a waiver
(A second time, again!)
If anything should go wrong
(Of course, nothing will go wrong)
It’s not the dolphin’s fault!
And then you have to sit down
In groups of ten or twelve
And listen to the lesson
In what you have to do.
It takes months to train a dolphin
Months and months to train a dolphin
But you have got ten minutes to take the matter in.
Then we put on black suits
Different sizes black suits
Doing up with snappers
Now we look the same
Eager, eager faces
Waiting for the next step
Getting in the water
Getting in a line
Swimming, swimming, swimming
Getting in a line
Move a little forward
Move a little backward
Move a little sideways
Hold that child up straight
And now you meet the dolphin
And now you kiss the dolphin
And now the dolphin tows you
Very very fast
The dolphin is much larger
The dolphin is much stronger
The dolphin is much faster
The dolphin is more slippery
You have to hold on tight
It’s all just so surprising
You think you know what’s coming
But you don’t, you don’t, you don’t
It takes months to train a dolphin
Months and months to train a dolphin
But take a bunch of humans
And it happens very quick!
You get to meet the dolphin
You get to kiss the dolphin
You get to ride the dolphin
You get to pet the dolphin
You get towed by the dolphin
You get shocked by the dolphin
It’s a busy, busy dolphin
But it seems to like the fun
And when it is all finished
And we are climbing out
We see the merry dolphins
Leaping in the air
Two by two they leap up
Turning in the air
Showing off their paces
Giving us their all.
And then we have to walk
Past the lovebirds and the parrots
The bunnies and the pirates
The shops with pretty colours
The cups made out of wood
Until we come to the computers
Computers with the photos
Oh yes, we all had photos,
Lots and lots of photos
All there on the screen
So we picked out all our photos
Our fun, exciting photos
And plucked them off the screen
Of course they wanted money
– Lots and lots of money –
To put them on a disc.
So we grinned and bit the bullet
Yes, we grinned and bit the bullet
And now we have our disc.
And so we can remember,
Our foray with the dolphin
Our jolly with the dolphin
Our molly with the dolphin
Our one mad, joyful day
And was it really worth it?
Really, really worth it?
Yes, man, it was worth it
Worth it any day!
John Rowan, Caribbean January 2016
February 10, 2016