I agree...(with the understanding that when we refer to "the Dharma" - it always begs the question "who's Dharma?")Dan74 wrote:
Are people really helped by discovering the Dharma? I heard Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a 102-year-old Rinzai Zen teacher in the US, quoted as saying that a typical Westerner really needs years of therapy before they are ready for Zen.
Around the fora especially one sees so often that the Dharma becomes just another tool in the ego's neurotic arsenal.
The Buddha was a healer, we say, and his medicine is still effective. And yet, many are made more sick by (mis)application of it.
Many people are helped by discovering the 4NT/8FP, cause and effect, interdependence, meditation, and metta practice (much beyond that, I'm less certain how many) but for vast many people the modern mind is very entrenched and very fragile - and these same discoveries that can benefit some people are so unconsciously threatening to many modern people's sense of structured reality that to encounter them results in irrational defense mechanisms arising in an attempt to compensate for the loss of ego primacy - to somewhere find solid ground again at any intra-psychic cost.
As more Westerners encounter Buddhism, especially via the internet or Amazon.com, without benefit of Sangha or supervision - not everyone's mind is going to move gracefully from a relied upon "solid" sense of "self" through the systematic unraveling of that delusion of solidity via the Dharma. Imo, add in a splash of virgin birth, invisible beings, "not-self", literal rebirth, heavens and hells, filth and evil, miracles, etc... - and there we've got a very potent stew that results in a bad trip for many folks, and for many others - just more to get sticky with and hang onto as if it were a life jacket. Many people are going to encounter their hidden (or not so hidden) demons and hells in their own mind the further they proceed into "Buddhism". Many others are going to use Buddhism to further concretize the patterns of their mind. Teachers who underestimate the raw state of the modern mind are putting some people at risk for experiencing mind-states that neither student or teacher know how to deal with. Buddhism is not "one size fits all", especially in this time.
I've noticed over the years that some teachers are very sensitive to this - usually in small centers where the contact between teacher and student is more regular and intimate. Care is taken to introduce all students to very basic instruction and meditation. When they encounter their many students who have a highly-abstractified, tightly-strucrtured view of reality or who's mind moves easily with the winds, they would give these types of students very simple instructions and practice - and repeatedly steer them away from the abstractions and supernatural aspects of the Dharma. I've also heard several teachers recommend therapy generally, and also specifically to some students.
In larger centers and in urban areas, this is often not the case - it takes a lot of money to pay for those big, beautiful centers so they have to play to a packed house (that's not cynicism - I've manned the phones and did the advertising for events/teachings/ceremonies that I now believe should have been closed to the general public). And for the hundreds of thousands who's only encounter with the Dharma is electronic or printed, there's no teacher to observe the quality of change and to set limits or change strategy.