I start a CPE Residency tomorrow. Upon reviewing my “Theology of Pastoral Care” paper from my 2015 CPE Internship, I wanted to share this passage that echos some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s view of “No Mud, No Lotus.”
In one tradition from which I draw much, Buddhist psychology views the aspects of human character and emotion through the concept of “store consciousness” where we “water the seeds” of desirable traits (e.g. compassion) and avoid watering other seeds (e.g. anxiety). I have adopted an extension of this metaphor with the concept of a “spirit flower.” For example, when people who disclose to me that they were abused or neglected, especially as children, I have occasionally shared that their flower was not watered as should have been, and that they deserve to have their wilted flower watered back to health. Surrounding ourselves with loving family and healthy community helps us water the flower. Substance abuse can be likened to watering the flower with booze. Trials and tribulations of life provide fertilizer to their flower, sometimes as manure which can enrich their flower, so as long as they are not buried. Weeds can also be included in this metaphor. Removing thick weeds, digging out of deep manure, or eradicating other “pests” may require professional medical or counseling help. God is the source of energy for this flower – praising and giving thanks is a way to hold the leaves up and turn towards the sunlight.
Everyone has a beautiful spirit that needs care, and everyone deserves to have their spirit flower nurtured.
Earl A. Daniels
July 22, 2015