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Keywords:

  • empathy;
  • guru;
  • idealizing transference;
  • India;
  • psychoanalysis;
  • spiritual healing

Abstract:  An exploration of the theory and practice of healing in the Eastern spiritual traditions reveals the centrality of the idealizing transference in the patient-seeker's interaction with the spiritual teacher or the guru although the aim and development of the idealizing transference in the spiritual traditions are quite different from those of self psychology. In its emphasis on the guru's empathy and in claiming that its meditative practices radically reduce the noise and glare produced by the sensual self which is the chief obstacle to the teacher-healer's empathic understanding of the patient, the Eastern healing discourse goes considerably beyond most traditional psychoanalytic formulations on the nature and communication of empathy in the analytic situation. The Eastern traditions’ claim of a significant enhancement of the teacher-healer's empathic capacity through meditative practices, and its communication to the patient/seeker through other channels besides the verbal one, can make an important contribution to the discussion on the role of empathy in psychoanalytic discourse and, if the claim proves true, to a place for meditative practices in psychoanalytic education.