This one was written in response to an article by C.W. Huntington in Tricycle magazine:
We’re concerned that the recent article on dharma practice and psychotherapy by C.W. Huntington fails to adequately address the unconscious dynamics that so often manifest themselves as obstructive forces in the midst of formal practice and our everyday life. Perhaps it’s true that as long as practice remains on more superficial levels, it isn’t so difficult to draw distinctions between a psychotherapeutic approach and dharma work. Our experience, however, has been that the deeper we go, the more difficult it becomes to disentangle one from the other. What we’ve found is that penetrating, non-dual practices activate the whole of the psyche, and in this process bring our unresolved issues closer to conscious awareness. As this happens, the influence of these forces becomes magnified such that we experience the consequences of this mobilization, but without dealing with the underlying causes. As Carl Jung wrote, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Some may call it karma. We’ve also seen that deepening practice not only stirs up these forces, it’s also often used to push them back down. Mis-using practice in this way comes at a real cost—both to ourselves and others—and is no doubt part of the dynamic playing itself out through the unethical behaviors of so many spiritual teachers. Since these unconscious dynamics are often linked to early disrupted attachments, they inevitably affect our practice, on the mat and in our relationships. As long as practice fails to address the whole of the Western psyche, it will, at best, be of only limited value. We feel it’s imperative to continue to find ways to understand and work with the unique features of the unconscious in the midst of practice, so that this Western dharma will be more effective in relieving suffering and awakening the heart of the bodhisattva. Respectfully, Lawson Sachter and Sunya Kjolhede Co-abbots, Windhorse Zen Community.