The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

Recommended Host

Buddhist Helpers

Buddha Tech Support

Buddha Tech Support

Buddhist Helpers

A Reader writes:

Do Buddhist monks work on an individual case-by-case basis with lay Buddhists who seek advise on a specific problem in their lives and then offer a diagnosis and prescription in, of course, Buddhist terms? Or are the 4 noble truths, 8 fold path, 5 precepts, etc., always to be generically self-prescribed? I suppose this question arises from vestiges of Catholic confession, the psychoanalytic model, and just a plain old desire for commiseration.

My Response:

It depends. Monks and monasteries vary a lot depending on denomination, leadership, community involvement, etc. Some don't interact much with the lay community, while others are a central part of it.

I suspect very few monks would turn down a request for help if it were made.

Keeping that in mind, you mention Catholicism. Catholic priests undergo MANY years of training in working with the community. They take courses in counseling, psychology, social work, etc. They are heavily educated in these areas. Many high-ranking Buddhists, on the other hand, have very little formal education. What I'm saying is that most Buddhists would be willing to help you, but they are sometimes limited in their real-world applications of Buddhism outside the monastery.

I'd like to hear about others' experiences with this. Anyone have any really good stories of Buddhist Helps? About bad stories/disasters?

Another answer to your question is that I seem to do it all the time; what can I help you with? šŸ™‚



2 comments to Buddhist Helpers

  • I’ve wondered the same thing in the past. What I’ve come up with is:
    – Buddhist monks who live in monasteries may or may not be best equipped to give “real life” advice. On one hand their lives are so different from yours; on the other hand they are bound to have some really left-field and fresh perspectives on things!
    – In most Buddhist traditions (actually all that I’m aware of although I’m not an expert) many of the lay practitioners have significant experience and insight into applying their practice to their day to day lives. So an IRL or online Sangha could be a good place to start looking (actually you’ve already done that and received the warm response above- well done, and how wonderful! šŸ™‚ )
    – If you’d like to go more formal there are therapists out there whose work is informed by their Buddhist practice. Charlotte (Joko) Beck’s Ordinary Mind school seems to have a lot of psychoanalysts/therapists among their leaders- not quite sure what’s going on there but I guess her style and take on things has attracted people from this field. I guess you’d just search therapists/counsellors in your local region and do your research on their backgrounds and methods.
    – Most of all remember that you’re still driving the bus and if anyone’s offering you answers or advice that doesn’t seem right to you… thank them sweetly and then go make up your own mind šŸ™‚
    Good luck!

  • SweetFace

    The resident monk at my local temple does private sessions free of charge but they will take donations