mardi 22 novembre 2011
PHILOSOPHICAL COUNSELING IN HAVANA, CUBA
Fieldwork in Immersion Philosophical Counselling
The reality of Cuba is to be experienced and understood and not enjoyed only from the comforts of a hotel or a beach resort, the kind you could have in RD or Jamaica. In the experienced reality, the rich fibre of this country and also the qualities of the every day people shine forth.
In the first 36 hours of being here, I did not move from the house, we began chatting and each day they extended to 12 hours or more of talking.
Chicken Fish Yellow Rice Soft Drinks Fruit Juice the Cuban version of croissant, which tastes very similar to the Miami one, these are what physically sustained us.
Thus one enters the reality of the world of Ideas that exist in Cuba at a higher level that one can experience in Miami or most of the cities in Latin America, with the exception of Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo or Mexico City.
What is the role of Philosophy here? Especially when the politics is dogmatic and the government is not flexible enough to meet the demands of the people?
The emotional conflicts that one goes through as in any other country, has to be resolved here in a different manner. Psychology and Psychiatry has its place and in its appropriate place they help the people by the thousands, by counselling and also by medications. The fact that Cubans are very prone to taking medications is a psychological fact, of living under an ideology with which they may have conflicts of flexibility.
In a highly educated population such as the Cubans in the island (highest level of postgraduate education in the Americas), opening the minds about the possibilities of thoughts outside the prescribed one and also the experienced one, can liberate oneself.
This is where the fundamentals of Philosophy, taken from the Western Philosophers, American Indian philosophy, the Raja Yoga and Yoga sutras of Patanjali and Dalai Lama and the Burmese observances of Buddhism, comes in very useful. I am normally opposed to mixing cultural phenomenon, a bit of this and a bit of that , especially among the New Age Practitioners who play indian tabla, do Tai Chi, African herbal medicine and put in a bit of Crystal gazing . These are processes without deep meanings and without the understanding of the deep meaning ( Clifford Geertz about Bali) and context (Maurice Merleau-Ponty), ideas or things have very little meaning and thus very little influences on your well being. The best and most famous example is the misuse of the world YOGA for the multitudes of practices especially in the West and now entering China of all places.
What did we talk about? In these effortless conversations for hours?
To make people feel comfortable in the space that they feel they are in now, especially those who are looking for a change so that they can feel relieved of the stresses of their conflicts.
When looking through the Philosophical lens, the hardships of every day life in Cuba appears in a different light, in fact, all thinking Cubans (there are many of that kind here in La Habana) agree that it is that very same hardships and understanding them that has given them some of the best humanistic characteristics. Visitors who leave the island without understanding Solidarity among the Cuban population, miss out on an opportunity to understand one of the most important human behavioural factors of the latter half of the 20th century.
So my stay has begun well. And laid the foundation for the conversations to come, with colleagues in the fields of Psychology and also those who seek advice about adjusting well to the emerging Cuba, and about Love and other Demons (pardon me, Gabo)..