Applying Five Principles of Buddhism to
The Serving Model
Jane Warren PhD,
Professional Studies Department
University of Wyoming
This Program Addresses the Following
G. 1. Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice.
b. professional roles, functions, and relationships with other human service
providers, strategies for inter-agency collaboration (The Serving-Community: The
d. self-care strategies appropriate to the counselor role (The Serving-Practice:
Mindfulness and Meditation).
i. advocacy processes needed to address institutional and social barriers that
impede access, equity, and success for clients (The Serving-Mind: Acceptance).
G. 2 . Social & Cultural Diversity.
e. counselors’ roles in developing cultural self-awareness, promoting cultural
social justice, advocacy and conflict resolution, and other culturally supported
behaviors that promote optimal wellness and growth of the human spirit, mind, or
body (The Serving-Being: Enlightenment).
G. 3. Human Growth and Development
f. human behavior, including an understanding of developmental crises, disability,
psychopathology, and situational and environmental factors that affect both
normal and abnormal behavior (The Serving Heart: Compassion/Loving
Counselors as Advocates for Client Change
We are called on to serve others and advocate for change.
Counseling-Awareness and Self-Care
It can be easy to give up on a client when they “fail.”
Many times however their failure is about our own challenged agenda, selfawareness, and self-care.
Unaware counselors may miss parts of a client’s story, be unable to establish
empathy, and give up on a client.
Counseling Requires Self- Awareness and Self-Care
Counselors need to integrate self-awareness and self-care into their work.
Buddhism and Counseling
The incorporation of Buddhist principles into a serving plan can provide a vehicle
for self-awareness and self-care.
Buddha was a Helping Person
Buddhism asks, “Why do we experience so much suffering?” and “Can suffering be
Sheltered from suffering, Buddha left to see the world. He saw a sick person, an
old woman, a dead man , and a person begging. Each of these persons were
suffering except the person begging . He was not suffering.
Buddha wondered why some suffered and others did not.
While meditating under a Bodhi (Bodhi-enlightenment) tree, he realized that
although negative conditions are inevitable; suffering is not.
A person can manage suffering through mindful practice and self-care.
Applying Five Principles of Buddhism to Counseling Work:
The Serving Model
Applying five principles of Buddhism can offer an effective way to manage and
The five parts are interconnected and include: the serving being, the serving heart,
the serving mind, the serving practice, and the serving community.
The Serving-Being: Enlightenment
The serving being is about understanding.
Suffering is understood through perception.
The counselor with an enlightened mind is fully open to seeing life as it is.
The Question: How do you manage suffering?
– Understanding Activity: Identity the gifts in a very difficult experience you
The Serving Heart: Compassion/Loving Kindness
The serving heart is about loving.
Love is like the wind on the side of the house, the hail on the roof, and the sun on
the paint. It makes us stronger, deeper, and more real.
Compassion is unconditional love.
Paying attention to what we love and stepping back from the many stories in the
mind opens us to breathing and loving.
The Question: How do you love?
– Love Activity: Write a short letter of appreciation to someone for whom you
feel anger. Identify their strengths.
The Serving-Mind: Acceptance
The serving mind is about acceptance of impermanence.
Impermanence means we never step in the same river twice nor meet the same
Letting go means we detach from expectations that trap us.
The Question: What happens when you do not get what you want?
– Letting Go Activity: Tomorrow you lose your job. What will you do?
The Serving-Practice: Mindfulness and Meditation
The serving practice is about living well.
Buddha purported that no one can attain wellness and enlightenment without
Mindfulness is enhanced through meditation-based practices.
Losing focus of the present puts awareness to sleep.
The Question: How do you want to live?
Living Activity: Ten minute cookie. Spend ten minutes eating a cookie.
Journal about the experience.
What if life were lived like a ten-minute cookie?
The Serving-Community: Sangha
The serving community is about connecting.
The community is everywhere including in nature, art, spiritual leaders, and those
in our daily lives.
Teachers are everywhere.
The Question: How well do you lean on others?
– Connection Activity: Who is in your support circle? Who would you like to
add? Who may not be in the circle in 10 years?
Practical Application of the Serving Model
Case example –Application of five principles of the Serving Model to work with an
– Bill Relapses: You have worked continuously with Bill and many other agencies
and persons to help him stay sober. He relapses and is sent to prison. You wonder
if all the work you did made a difference. How do you not give up on Bill?
Understanding: There is a reason Bill relapsed.
Compassion: Struggles evoke loving kindness. Find the meaning.
Acceptance: Relapses happen. Whose agenda am I meeting?
Focus: Right now what can I do to stay well? Center.
Support: From whom can I gain wisdom? Talk, read, connect.
• Identify a recent case with which you struggled and apply the five steps.
Implications for Counseling
professionals may not always understand the complexities found in
counseling with pain, powerlessness, disappointment, and cruelty.
Practices used in Buddhism can be applied by counselors to personal and
professional challenges in their work.