Among the discussions, I would like to identify the “process of individuation” as the most important theme of the book. Individuation, from Jung’s perspective, is to denote the process of becoming a single, homogeneous and in-divided being. The author, as most Jungian analyst did, discussed about the analysis of dreams and artworks. It is an important means to help people identify archetypes from their unconsciousness and is also a departure of individuation. In fact, we may say that this book is talking about the author’s personal experience of individuation - how he transformed from a Jungian to a Jungian-Buddhist and finally to a Zen master liked psychotherapist. Hayao Kawai, just liked the Japanese woman, has “reprinted” his "Ten Oxherding Pictures" by words in this book.
Moreover, I believe that the “Ten Oxherding Picture” series is a vivid illustration of the individuation process: searching, struggling and integrating. I have learned form the book that both traditions emphasize on the necessity of going through the individuation process. Both aim at achieving an “in-divided” state of being although they have contradictory orientation. It is the inner urge to achieve self-realization or in Buddhist term, “searching for the original self” (尋找本來面目). Miyuki even stated that many Zen koans can be understood as the experience of the psychological process termed as “individuation”. The book held a clear and substantial discussion on these differences.
Besides, I would like to discuss about the idea of “impersonal”. It should not be understood in ordinary sense such as dehumanized or affectionless. On the contrast, it described a relationship which discarded the dualistic perspective. It is talking about a deeper level of human relationship. If the premise of “embodying all things as self” is established, it will automatically reject the subject-object relationship. Therefore, the proposed “impersonal” approach aims at promoting such a non-dualistic and non-discriminating therapeutic relationship. By shifting to such a deep relationship, one can free his feelings. The author found that it was an effective way to handle the intra-conflict aroused from particular therapist-client relationship.
Furthermore, as a Jungian analyst with strong faith in Buddhism, the author considered integrating both the traditions as his primary concern. However, he found that he was caught and suffered. Finally he reached a conclusion as follows:
“…after trying hard many times, I gradually came to know that it is, in fact, impossible to ‘integrate” them. It even seems dangerous to attempt quick integration, as I have realized that people who attempt it tend to ignore things which are “inconvenient”....after determining that integration is impossible, I can add that, with time and insight, integration is also possible.
Facing this conclusion, if we draw reference from Jack Engler’s model “Developmental spectrum concept of psychopathology”, I would like to argue that integration of these two traditions is possible and necessary. Individuation in western sense can contribute its strengths on developing a comparatively strong, stable and coherent self which is need for Buddhist meditation. It is because a scattered and fragmented ego consciousness has little chance of being able to identify its non-self nature. Therefore, we should not underestimate the contribution from western tradition regarding a whole person development. From this perspective, both traditions can work hand-in hand to promote the process of individuation across different developmental stages of a human being. Actually, the author’s personal journey itself has already demonstrated how these two traditions contribute to a whole person development in different moment of life. There is no doubt that his training of Jungian analyst did offer him a healthy and coherent self which he could investigate into. Therefore, these two traditions can dynamically interplay with each other. I would suggest that a true integration is the integration happened within a human being but not the theories. Nevertheless, the author’s strong identification of eastern tradition blinded him from evaluating the contribution of the western tradition equitably.
Overall speaking, follow the footprints of the author, I was introduced to the worldview of western and eastern psychotherapies and was guided to explore their differences and similarities. Although there are still many meaningful and insightful discussions have yet not been mentioned in this book review, what touched me the most was the author’s personal experience of individuation. This book do crystallize the author’s effort and experience in the past thirty years. When reading his story and thinking of the “Ten Oxherding Pictures”, I seem to hear his whispers: ‘Yes…, you have to search for your own bull yourself.’