Interweaving both Buddhist and psychoanalytic wisdom, this book uses the unlikely relationship between a psychoanalyst, her child patient, and a Tibetan Buddhist Lama to explore healing and resilience in the face of pain and injustice in childhood.
The book centers around the story of three unlikely friends who formed a family: a silent six-year-old African-American girl born to an HIV-positive mother, a Tibetan Buddhist lama who as a six-year-old escaped the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and a Peruvian-Scottish psychoanalyst whose colorful family-of-origin fell apart in a weirdly handled divorce. Through a strange sequence of events, the three came to know each other in a psychoanalytic program that brings therapy to the inner city. A central theme is the invisible forms of pain and injustice suffered in childhood. But this is only half the story, since the inspiring reality is that children push for wellness. And they don’t give up easily. Regardless of the magnitude of trauma endured, children keep trying to get things right. They don’t like feeling unknown, to themselves or others. Through this story, the ways in which Buddhism and psychoanalysis address this human struggle to recognize one’s own suffering in the face of another, and our common push for wellness, are revealed through the growing relationship between these three unlikely friends.
PILAR JENNINGS, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry and religion at the Union Theological Seminary and a lecturer at Columbia University. She is also a visiting lecturer at Weill Cornell University School of Medicine in their newly implemented Integrative Health concentration. Through this program associated with the Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science, Dr. Jennings teaches medical students about mindfulness and psychodynamic techniques to be utilized for their own stress reduction and for their patients’ increased well-being. She is also a psychoanalyst with a focus on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation; she has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. She is the author of Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism.