‘Getting hold of the Ox’ 4) corresponds with the stage in psychotherapy where the patient can maintain their awareness of nuclear feelings vividly, without repressing them. ‘Herding the Ox’ 5) means holding, controlling and beginning to resolve the conflicts. It corresponds with the long working-through phase of psychotherapy where negative emotions dissolve, positive feelings grow and new constructive behaviour patterns emerge.

‘Riding the Ox Home’ 6) corresponds with the stage in psychotherapy where the patient or person has almost worked through their nuclear feelings; it is the acceptance of the problem and reality. Here the ox is white and this suggests the purified state of mind - no love and no hate. In ‘The Ox is Forgotten, but the Ox-herder is Still Present’ 7) is signified the resolution of conflicts, yet the self is not completely transcended. This is the point which Prof. RHEE argues as identifying the limit that is reached in western psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

The following three stages are ‘Ox and Herder Both Forgotten’ 8) which is complete nonattachment or emptiness(sunyata), complete liberation and self-transcendence. ‘Returning to the Source’ 9) is seeing oneself and reality as it is without projection - or, as returning to one’s original nature and then finally, ends with ‘Entering the Marketplace with Open Hands’ 10) This is to become a Bodhisattva to help others after solving one’s own problems. In this way, Prof. RHEE has found similarity between the psychotherapeutic process and the Zen path in the course of his study of the Tao, western philosophy and psychotherapy.

2. The Importance of Compassion in Taopsychotherapy

Another one of the most important issues in Taopsychotherapy is how the therapist can come to fully understand their patients’ feelings. This issue is based upon the premise that it is most important that the therapist be ‘in-tune’(empathize) with the patient’s subjective, inner feelings. This question of how well the therapist understands the patient’s feelings is very seriously attended to in Taopsychotherapy, as compared with western psychotherapy. In fact, the emphasis on this issue is probably the most distinctively contrasted aspect between Taopsychotherapy and western psychotherapy.

In Taopsychotherapy, considerable emphasis is placed upon the developmental and/or maturation process(maturity) of the therapists. This does not mean by that very fact, that all therapists studying Taopsychotherapy are somehow more mature than any other psychotherapists. For instance, Prof. RHEE once stated himself, “So far, there has not been any student of mine who has been fully able to understand me - as yet.”

He always says, “The therapist should treat a patient with his/her own compassion or, the therapist should have compassion and the patient will be cured by it.”

In Daseinsanalysis, it is “care”(sorge) of existence, as a kind of shepherding of all that is encountered(Craig 1988). According to Carlos Alberto Seguin(Seguin 1965), it is “Psychotherapeutic Eros”, as Boss quoted(Boss 1963). Jerome Frank said, “A good therapist has a real desire to help people” (Frank 1998). These are different terms which indicate the same qualities. In Prof. RHEE’s Taopsychotherapy, a therapist’s compassion is the most important quality to embody, in order to attain perfect empathy with his/her patient’s feelings.

1) An Example of Dialogue Between Medard Boss and RHEE Dongshick in Zollikon:
Compassion and Selflessness

During several conversations between Medard Boss and RHEE Dongshick in June of 1976 in Zollikon, Zurich, they stressed the importance of the therapist’s love.

Here is a part of their dialogue(in expanded translation)

Prof. Boss:Yes, western psychotherapy mainly only goes so far as liberating hate and love. Since hate and love are both attachments, most therapists stop at the liberation of these emotions whereas meditation goes further on to free the person from these attachments and encouragingly continues to help them to become a Bodhisattva.

Prof. RHEE:Yes, it is my impression(that) therapy should have the spirit of Bodhisattva, selflessness. In reality though, therapists lack this spirit of Bodhisattva.

Prof. Boss:It’s a kind of selflessness. To simply give the patient freedom, the space into which he can develop his own being, without wanting something for yourself from the patient.

Prof. RHEE:That is wu wei of Laotzu.

Prof. Boss:That’s rare. That’s the aim of one therapist(Carlos Alberto Seguin) from Peru, “Psychotherapeutic Eros”. He means the same thing. Psychotherapeutic Eros is superior even to the goal (that) is the prescribed love of the priest for his belief in God, because he still wants something from God.

3. How to Attain Complete Compassion

Thirdly, one of the most important things in Taopsychotherapy is the issue of how the therapist can reach the state of complete compassion. In other words, how a therapist can attain perfect empathy to understand the patient’s feelings. For this purpose, therapists should resolve(remove) their own nuclear feelings(neurotic desires) through purification of their minds. This is one of the distinctively different issues worked with in Taopsychotherapy.
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※ Ten-Oxen-Pictures illustrate the process of purification of mind. Pictures of this site are Ten-Oxen-Pictures of Songgwangsa Temple.