Quotes from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients

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“You can't make anyone love you. You just have to reveal who you are and take your chances. (105)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“Love is more than simply being open to experiencing the anguish of another person's suffering. It is the willingness to live with the helpless knowing that we can do nothing to save the other from his pain. (23)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“He prefers the security of known misery to the misery of unfamiliar insecurity.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“Everything good is costly, and the development of the personality is one of the most costly of all things. It will cost you your innocence, your illusions, your certainty. (10)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“There appear to be many people who chose to go crazy (or become alcoholics, addicts, criminals, suicides) rather than have to bear the pain and ambiguity of a life situation that they have decided that they cannot stand. (98)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients



“All of the truly important battles are waged within the self. (7)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“It is not possible to know how much is just enough, until we have experienced how much is more than enough. (64)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“And so, it is not astonishing that, though the patient enters therapy insisting that he wants to change, more often than not, what he really wants is to remain the same and to get the therapist to make him feel better. (4)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“We all live in a tragicomic situation, a life that is in part absurd simply because it is not of our own making. We are born into a disordered world, into a family we did not choose, into circumstances we would have had somewhat improved, and we are even called by a name we did not select. (40)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“There is the image of the man who imagines himself to be a prisoner in a cell. He stands at one end of this small, dark, barren room, on his toes, with arms stretched upward, hands grasping for support onto a small, barred window, the room's only apparent source of light. If he holds on tight, straining toward the window, turning his head just so, he can see a bit of bright sunlight barely visible between the uppermost bars. This light is his only hope. He will not risk losing it. And so he continues to staring toward that bit of light, holding tightly to the bars. So committed is his effort not to lose sight of that glimmer of life-giving light, that it never occurs to him to let go and explore the darkness of the rest of the cell. So it is that he never discovers that the door at the other end of the cell is open, that he is free. He has always been free to walk out into the brightness of the day, if only he would let go. (192)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients



“In the long run we get no more than we have been willing to risk giving.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“You win some, you lose some, and your losses are never made up to you. She will simply have to do without; like it or not, she must face her losses and her helplessness to undo them.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“Anarchy could never get a man to the moon, but it may the only mode that can allow us to survive on earth.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“So it is that there is nothing to be taught, but yet there is something to be learned.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“Sometimes life seems like a poorly designed cage within which man has been sentenced to be free.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients



“The therapist can interpret, advise, provide the emotional acceptance and support that nurtures personal growth, and above all, he can listen. I do not mean that he can simply hear the other, but that he will listen actively and purposefully, responding with the instrument of his trade, that is, with the personal vulnerability of his own trembling self. This listening is that which will facilitate the patient's telling of his tale, the telling that can set him free. (5)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“For each of us, the only hope resides in his own efforts, in completing his own story, not in the other's interpretation. (63)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“The most insidious of the premature responsibilities that may be foisted onto some children is the expectation that the child is somehow supposed to take care of his parents, rather than the other way around. Parents who were themselves raised with too little attention given to their own early feelings, if they have not worked out the resulting emotional problems in subsequent years, often look forward to having children of their own so that the children will make them happy. (81)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“That is one of the reasons why a man should pick a path with heart, so that he can find his laughter.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“But after a while, she began to experience the new reality of each person as being as strong and as weak as anyone else. Slowly, she learned that each of us grown-ups has as much and as little power as the other, and that we had best learn to take care of ourselves.(83)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients



“The continuing struggle was once described in the following metaphor by a patient who had successfully completed a long course of psychotherapy: 'I came to therapy hoping to receive butter for the bread of life. Instead, at the end, I emerged with a pail of sour milk, a churn, and instructions on how to use them.' (138)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“Crises marked by anxiety, doubt, and despair have always been those periods of personal unrest that occur at the times when a man is sufficiently unsettled to have an opportunity for personal growth. We must always see our own feelings of uneasiness as being our chance for "making the growth choice rather than the fear choice.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“When a patient says he feels stuck and confused, and through good intentions he struggles to become loose and clear, he only remains chronically trapped in the mire of his own stubbornness. If instead he will go with where he is, only then is there hope. If he will let himself get deeply into the experience of being stuck, only then will he reclaim that part of himself that is holding him. Only if he will give up trying to control his thinking, and let himself sink into his confusion, only then will things become clear. (64)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“This wish to satisfy someone greater than the Self, to be found acceptable, to belong at last, is a struggle familiar to many psychotherapy patients. In their lives they waste themselves on wondering how they are doing, on trying to figure out the expectations of others so that they can become someone in the eyes of others. They try to be practical, to be reasonable, to figure it all out in their heads. It is as though if only they could get the words straight in their heads, if only they could find the correct formula, then everything else in their lives would be magically straightened out. They are sure there is a right way to do things, though they have not yet found it. Someone in authority must know...It is as thought if it were discovered that two and two really did not equal four (but five), then at that moment all over the world every machine would stop operating, all of the lights would go out. (110)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“Whether pilgrim or wayfarer, while seeking to be taught the Truth (or something), the disciple learns only that there is nothing that anyone else can teach him. He learns, once he is willing to give up being taught, that he already knows how to live, that it is implied in his own tale. The secret is that there is no secret. Everything is just what it seems to be. This is it! There are no hidden meanings. Before he is enlightened, a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman, and falls asleep. But once he has attained enlightenment, then a man gets up each morning to spend the day tending his fields, returns home to eat his supper, goes to bed, makes love to his woman, and falls asleep. The Zen way to see the truth is through your everyday eyes.2 It is only the heartless questioning of life-as-it-is that ties a man in knots. A man does not need an answer in order to find peace. He needs only to surrender to his existence, to cease the needless, empty questioning. The secret of enlightenment is when you are hungry, eat; and when you are tired, sleep. The Zen Master warns: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!” This admonition points up that no meaning that comes from outside of ourselves is real. The Buddhahood of each of us has already been obtained. We need only recognize it. Philosophy, religion, patriotism, all are empty idols. The only meaning in our lives is what we each bring to them. Killing the Buddha on the road means destroying the hope that anything outside of ourselves can be our master. No one is any bigger than anyone else. There are no mothers or fathers for grown-ups, only sisters and brothers.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients



“The adult May fly lives only a few hours, just long enough to mate. He has neither mouth nor stomach, but needs neither since he does not live long enough to need to eat. The eggs the May fly leaves hatch after the parent has died. What is it all about. What's the point? There is no point. That's just the way it is. It is neither good nor bad. Life is mainly simply inevitable. (41)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“You can't get there from here, and besides there's no place else to go.”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“Unwilling to tolerate life’s ambiguity, its unresolvability, its inevitability, we search for certainty, demanding that someone else must provide it. Stubbornly, relentlessly, we seek the wise man, the wizard, the good parent, someone else who will show us the way. Surely someone must know. It simply cannot be that life is just what it appears to be, that there are no hidden meanings, that this is it, just this and nothing more. It’s not fair, not enough! We cannot possibly bear having to live life as it is, without reassurance, without being special, without even being offered some comforting explanations. Come on now! Come across! You’ve got to give us something to make it all right. The medicine tastes lousy. Why should we have to swallow it just because it’s the only thing we can do? Can’t you at least promise us that we will have to take it just once, that it won’t taste that bad, that we will feel just fine immediately afterward, that we will be glad we took it? No? Well then, surely, at least you have to give us a lollipop for being good. But what if we are talking to ourselves? What if there is no one out there listening? What if for each of us the only wise man, the only wizard, the only good parent we will ever have is our own helpless, vulnerable self? What then?”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


“It is, of course, necessary to have rules and procedures if we wish to accomplish large and complex tasks, but the question of whether or not it is worth the cost must be perennially re-examined. (117)”
― quote from If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients


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