It is said that The Buddha said there are four kinds of people including the ordinary and the disciple, the arahant and the Tatagatha. In the context of our sanghas and institutions where we find people in need of care, we will mostly meet with disciples and ordinary people. In any case, if you someone requests your presence as a pastoral caregiver, you can presume your presence is requested to enhance their spiritual life. Keep in mind that it is more important to cultivate a heart of compassion towards all beings rather than to be skilled in assessing a dear one's practice. Nevertheless, when meeting with a disciple or one who aspires to discipleship, a pastoral caregiver or counselor would do well to know how to help the care receiver transform the obstacles that lead the ordinary mind to take conventional reality as the only reality. What are those obstacles?
- Sensual desire
- Innately harmful things
As Buddhist pastoral caregivers and counselors, we are to look for the suffering. Is there evidence of unrestrained faculties? Is there excess beyond what is needed? Is there unwise action in response to threats? Is the truly harmful seen as beneficial? Is there a lack of commitment to what is actually good? These are areas to explore if the care receiver is open to revealing herself or himself. If they are open, create a path or process to the investigation-of-states enlightenment. (MN 2) Help them bring to consciousness that which has dwelt beneath the surface. This process can be supported through mindfulness, and stand ready to invite the care receiver into equanimity practices, for bringing to consciousness that which was hidden can cause emotional and physical disturbance.