Point of View

Point of View

Total Liberation: A Buddhist Approach to Healing

By Ryan Howes

November/December 2021

Harm reduction. Symptom management. Lowering “subjective units of distress.” Many of us have trained for years to achieve identifiable goals such as these, which fit nicely into case notes and satisfy insurance companies’ thirst for payment-validating change.

Imagine, however, what therapy would look like if the focus were on liberating a client from their pain, rather than simply diluting their symptoms. Can clients ever truly be free of their suffering? Of their trauma? Of the confines of their selves?

Reverend angel Kyodo williams certainly thinks so.

A writer, activist, and ordained Zen Buddhist teacher, Rev. angel is the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace, and the coauthor of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation. The Library Journal called her “the most vocal and most intriguing African-American Buddhist in America.” She’ll be sharing her message at the 2022 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium.

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Ryan Howes: Were you seeking a spiritual path, or did it find you?

Rev. angel: It definitely found me. Growing up, I was decidedly agnostic, although I had a number of religious influences. One was a babysitter who came from a very religious family. She took me to church, and all the expectations around getting dressed up in the black Baptist tradition really turned me off. I remember sweating in the summertime…

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