If You Meet the Buddha on the Road...

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road…

In the recent past I engaged in a conversation on social media with a self-proclaimed transformational life coach selling their wares in the realm of “Holistic Wellbeing, Therapy, Coaching, Mentoring & Consulting.”

I found the discussion somewhat enlightening because it demonstrated the wide differences between what I consider to be a sound approach to healthy psychological living and a more post-modern perspective that may be indicative of younger Gen Xers and millennials. I don’t want to get too far into the details of my own viewpoint, but some of my influences are revealed in the conversation below.

As for the aspiring Transformational Life Coach (TLC) seeking to infiltrate and influence unsuspecting corporate leaders, her key source for the validity of knowledge rests, without any scientific foundation, on the post-modernist notion of relativistic “truth.” This is popularly expressed these days as “my truth.”

The claim to “my truth” is actually a claim to no truth, where the best anybody can do is to have and express their own arbitrary opinion as most suitable in the pursuit of mental health and psychological well-being. The problem is that if there is no means to discover reality, then there can be no claims to truth, even “my truth.” The logic here should be obvious to anybody except these who try to enhance their psychological well-being without any grounding in reality of the requirements of being human.

The axiomatic concepts of existence, identity, consciousness, and their corollaries such as cause and effect and freewill, are fundamental to discovering the biological and psychological requirements of both physical and mental health. These requirements reside in reality and are capable of being discovered and pursued.

When axiomatic concepts are not known, achieving optimal mental health is made more difficult. The situation is more dire when axiomatic concepts exist and are knowable yet are willfully and arbitrarily rejected as subjective truths based primarily on one’s emotional state or arbitrary whim. Active subversion of axiomatic concepts makes mental health impossible to achieve because it leaves no room for grounding in reality and the nature of man.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned and out to lunch as the TLC implies when indicating that older psychological insights are “old-school psychology” because of the mere fact that they are old—as if ideas have a best-before-date, after which they must be struck down and a suitably modern replacement inserted. The accusation of being old-school is an example of the logical fallacy of “argument by intimidation.” Who would be so uncouth these days to want to be associated with the “old-school” which, by being old, has surely been discredited and usurped by now and has worn out its usefulness over time, like a faded and torn pair of once fashionable designer blue jeans. Unfortunately, when asked for evidence that old means expired, none was provided.

It’s also telling that the claim is made that any attempt by the curious to seek out respected sources to substantiate evidence or “academic/scientific proof” should be avoided because it will only delay one’s path to successful emotional enlightenment and physical healing, or whatever is being promised and pursued in the name of psychological truth. My best course of action, I am told, is to park my rational mind and to proceed on irrational faith, not evidence. I suppose this is what the new-school of pop-psychology directed towards managerial leaders and their employees in this “new age” requires and advocates—a mindless science of psychology (oh, the irony) and an adherence to the bane of post-modernism.

Here’s the unedited conversation as it unfolded, beginning with the original post. My thanks to the unnamed aspiring guru for keeping the conversation honest and adult.

Transformational Life Coach:

There’s much talk about emotions these days. I wish I was exposed to all of it before as I used to be very detached from them.

We’re emotional beings. It’s natural and healthy to allow ourselves to fully feel each of them. However, we have a tendency to escape/ repress/ suppress the ones perceived as negative. Especially these times, when there’s a trend of being positive and “all light” around.

Yesterday my coach and healer made me realise that I was still playing this game in some parts of my life. 

I reached out to her as I was feeling pain in my neck, shoulders and hips. Some of the old lower back aches came back, too. 

Why? Because I lost awareness of my thoughts. The programme of forceful action has been engraved so deeply in my consciousness that I still tend to go back to it when on “autopilot”.

The muscle of conscious thinking and feeling is crucial to our health. And when not exercised, our bodies send us signals straight away in a form of pains, aches, discomfort, illness, disease.

When feeling unwell, pain or discomfort, calm down, sit in silence and ask your body what’s the cause of it all. It’ll tell you all you need to know, when you’re ready to listen.

And if you’d like to explore where these emotions came from, how to navigate them and what thinking patterns to change so they don’t come back, reach out and I will support you in finding these answers.

BLL: Contradictory values lead to conflicting emotions and are a major cause of cognitive dissonance and therefore mental stress.Values change on the path of self-awareness and self-realisation.

TLC: It takes quite some inner work to understand and release the past and the internal dissonance and, equally, it takes time to fully understand what our true values are, at a deep level. It isn’t an easy job, especially in the world we live in. How long has it taken you Barry?

BLL: I found the early work of Nathaniel Branden very useful, especially The Psychology of Self-Esteem, plus Leon Festinger’s work on cognitive dissonance.

TLC: I know Nathaniel Branden, haven’t read Leon’s work. Do any of them explain how to release the energies of the emotions accumulated in the past (mostly from childhood)?

BLL: Sorry, I don’t understand “release the energies of emotions.” You have to come to grips with reality through reason, by making decisions about values, and then sorting through the contraditions and rejecting what is not true and objectively valuable.

TLC: I see the “old school” psychology as unfortunately lacking a crucial part which is releasing the energies which are created and accumulated in our bodies. Unless released, they lead to more significant issues than only being “emotionally triggered”. I’ve just sent you a video about it. Let me know if you’d like to discuss it further.

BLL: I would need to see proof that there are energies stored up in our bodies. I don’t know what this means. What are these “energies”? Where do they come from? Where are they stored (in the blood? In the brain?). How are they relaeased? Where do they go? Etc.

TLC: Why don’t we have a zoom call and I’ll answer all these questions?

BLL: I’m sure others are equally curious. (-:

TLC: It requires a lot of explanation and openness to new perspectives :). As I mentioned I’ve already sent you my video (explaining it to some extent) – also available on my profile, so in case of curiosity everyone knows where to start. For more information, as I always say, feel free to reach out 🙂

BLL: Not a single primary academic reference or secondary source about how emotions can store energy, etc., to explain this?

TLC: I suggest to watch the video I shared – I mentioned two references in there.

BLL: lol – I give you credit for working hard to get me to watch that video. Cheers

TLC: It’s also worth to mention that exploring academic/ scientific proof will unnecessarily delay your own growth…but I understand it as I used to have the same approach. At some point it’s better to simply apply changes and experience it for yourself 🙂

BLL: Are you saying that academic research and the scientific method are hindrances the study of psychology? Is it just random theories then? And without knowing me how can you know what will help or hinder my own growth?

TLC: I’m saying that there’s not much scientific proof of things that are useful to our wellbeing. As you know science evolves and doesn’t have answers to all questions. Believing in science only, limits everyone’s wisdom and growth. I don’t need to know you personally to be able to say it. And telling you how I know will only discourage you from continuing to research what I share. Let me know when you are open to it 🙂

BLL: Science is a method, not a conclusion. I believe in method as the means to search for and discover truth. Wisdom has to be related to truth. You seem to want to establish truth and reject method. “Just follow me, I have the answers” seems to be your pitch. This perspective reminds me of Sheldon Kopp’s book If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him.

TLC: I never push anyone to follow me. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort to establish my truth and can only share it with others and help them find theirs. If what I share doesn’t resonate with you then that’s completely fine by me. If you learn anything new from the content I share, I’d appreciate a like or sharing it with others, just as an appreciation of helping you see other perspectives.

BLL: All the best in winning people over to “your truth.”

TLC: I feel you may have misinterpreted my words. At the end of the day, we all look through the lenses formed of our own experiences, observations and wounds. I don’t see what else I could do now except for encouraging you to check out what coaching is (video pinned to my profile). Thank you and all the best you on your path of finding your truth. It’s the most important part of life, to me at least. Feel free to reach out in the future.

© 2024, Barry L. Linetsky, All Rights Reserved.

Barry Linetsky is CEO of Cognitive Consulting, Inc., and a Partner with The Strategic Planning Group in Toronto, Canada, where he and his colleagues have been helping executives and owners define and align their business purpose with customer values since 1994. Barry is the author of the acclaimed business biography The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (2017, Theme Park Press, 2023 Windy Tangerine Press). His most recent books, Understanding and Creating Vision and Mission Statements (2020), Understanding and Creating Strategic Performance Indicators and Business Scenarios (2020), and Understanding and Creating Critical Success Factors (2021), each co-authored with Dobri Stojsic, are available from amazon. Barry’s thought-leadership articles have been published by Ivey Business Journal, Rotman Magazine, Mises Wire, and the Economist Intelligence Unit in conjunction with Harvard Business School. Barry is also a writer, researcher, analyst, photographer, and business strategy enabler. Read his blog and learn more at barrylinetsky.com. Follow him on Twitter @BizPhilospher.

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