The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy
A Psychology of No-thingness: Seeing Through
the Projected Self
by Dan Berkow
This is a richly referenced paper. A single sentence can find
attribution to two sources. For example: "Pleasure is neither sought
nor rejected." (Loy, 1999; Norbu and Clemente, 1999). The citation
of references confers academic solidity and suggests those
with whom the author finds resonation.
The chapter opens starkly, with reference to the "human being," as the
paper's foundational statement is given. Later the more familiar terms
"person" and "client" appear, and finally Marsha, Mark, Paul, Joan,
which are pseudonyms for the case examples. The terminology is appropriate to
the points being made.
This chapter will be presented as earlier ones have been, with a listing of
the main points (often in the form of quotations) within each chapter
A Psychology of No-thingness
-- "A psychology of no-thingness studies the human being as that
which is not-a-thing, not an object of perception." "That which is neither
subject nor object is the actual and present nature of the human being."
-- A psychology of no-thingness provides the framework to understand that
psychological problems are the mistaking of a self-conceptualization for true
being. The result is that one has become an image projected within a world
of image projectors. Images are in relationship, therefore relationship is
not known and psychological problems arise.
-- A psychology of no-thingness implies that a person's well-being requires
the breaking or relinquishing of the constructed self-image and "the
imagined sense of relationship of one object with another."
-- A psychology of no-thingness is aligned with Zen Buddhism and Advaita
Vedanta. This represents a shift in psychology: "Psychology will move toward
release of suffering as its orientation rather than continuing its current
directions of viewing indivinduals as carrying disorders, carrying strengths,
and wanting to solidify an adjusted and efficient self through positive
-- A psychology of no-thingness refreshes the relationship between the
human and non-human environments. "Relationship is now a field of being." The
environment is not a separate entity to be manipulated to satisfy needs.
-- A psychology of no-thingness establishes the nonconditional
being of client and therapist as the basis for an opening to the revelation of
-- A psychology of no-thingness is respectful and loving. It involves
the understanding and resolution of anxieties arising in the client. "The
client is invited into a process of respectful inquiry and loving
-- A psychology of no-thingness engages a therapy of relinquishment of
attachments and illusions and is not a promotion of positive self-images.
The Unreality of Split Being
-- "Awareness becomes seemingly split from itself when it conceptualizes a
position in here looking out there and remembers experiences in terms of my pain
that I was unable to avoid and my pleasure that I tried to keep."
-- "The psychological split is healed when pain is neither retained nor
defended against psychologically."
-- "A psychology of no-thingness involves being as is, without imposing
views or expectations to change or stay the same. It involves neither fixing
anything or witholding assistance. ... This present moment is the
freedom that clients erroneously perceive themselves as lacking."
-- "It is this a priori nature of being that is healing for human beings,
and this healing merely is the presentation of what is the case, without the
introduction of unreal splits."
Contact, Timing, and Pacing in Therapy
-- "The full challenge of therapy involves release of the sense of self
that depended on identification with constructed personal history and the
resulting projections. Enhanced self-integration may be a temporary aspect of
personal process, leading to sufficient trust in the process of being to
relinquish the self at center."
--"Therapeutic process proceeds according to the timing and pacing of the
individual who construes a therapy-seeking self"
Brief Case Examples
-- During the therapy of each case example there were moments of similar
tone characterized by "presentness of awareness." During those times attentional
energy was undistracted by thoughts and feelings directed toward the
assessment, anticipation and control of undesired and future events. This
left a "perceived quietness" and a feeling of involvement.
Nature of Projection
-- "The entity placed in the body is a projection designed as the carrier
of projections. It inhabits the body-construct as a mind-entity that can know
and do. It brings with it constructions of threats that would attack or negate
its knowing and doing. The goal of projection is to protect an imagined entity
taken as self by forming protections to ensure imagined continuity.
-- "The therapy of no-thingness can have no aim that involves a new state
for a separable being called the client. ... Such a therapy is nothing other
than the opening that is the present as is, which is an opening to and of
potential, and the discovery that one's being is this ever-new potentiality as
actuality. Problems drop here simply because there is no place for an assumption
of a problem-carrying entity."
Releasing the Apparent Split in Being
-- There is an internal and external aspect to splitting awareness.
-- "Internally, projection is associated with the maintained self-image and
its associated introjects, that is with rules and expectations assumed to
-- "Outwardly, projection is associated with concern about the reactions of
others to one's self. Thus, a desire to be seen as strong, impressive, and
in control masks hidden feelings of self-doubt, weakness, and being out of
-- The moment of healing does not arise out of a new strategy, is not
created through manipulation, nor does it manifest through education or urgent
warnings, advice, or appeals. It is the moment of the dropping or falling away
of strategies, manipulations, information and insistences; the moment that
simply being present is revealed as always what is.
Relationship and Therapy
-- Relationship may be understood thusly: "rather than two separated
individuals attempting to join together to do therapy, we have a whole situation
spontaneously arising. This relationship isn't fused, nor is it split into
divided subjects and objects. The therapist's being is present not only with the
client, but as the client."
-- Therapist and client are distinct while being nonseparate. That is,
sensation, feeling and boundaries are not denied.
-- There is neither the coming in nor the going out of the
healing energy of being, though it may be cognized and identified as evolving
-- "When there is clarity of and as this energy, there is spontaneously the
release of perceived needs for security requiring self-division as
-- "What is key to change is not new constructs for thought, but release of
the thought constructs that determined reactions, feelings, and requirements for
a separated self-sense."
--"Therapy therefore facilitates exploration, gives feedback, and promotes
inquiry. The effects of self-imposed friction are addressed honestly and without
either minimizing or exaggerating. The psychosomatic and relational
repercussions of self-protection are clarified with self-examination. The
dropping of the projection of a separated self is the choiceless awareness of
Dissolving Self-referencing, Splitting, and
--Therapy addresses "the split that occurs when the introjective/projective
mechanism defines a universe in terms of what is good for me in here and what
should be kept away from me, out there. The splitting between self and
environment is mirrored by an internal split between what is desired and feared.
The relatedness that is always now, without divisions of a past, present, and
future, or of an internal and an external."
~ ~ ~
The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy,
edited by John. L. Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal.