by Pureza Vasconcellos
In the Sravasti Abbey Friends Education (SAFE) distance learning program, students keep a portfolio of written reflections on the study material. Pureza is enrolled in Course 1a, which focuses on the mental afflictions beginning with ignorance, anger, and attachment. In addition to teaching the Buddhist view on these disturbing emotions, the course introduces the Drama Triangle, a psychological model of dysfunctional social interactions that keeps us trapped in conflict. The model proposes that in typical communication patterns, people assume the role of Rescuer, Persecutor or Victim—and sometimes alternate between the roles—to achieve a desired goal. Read more about the Drama Triangle here. Pureza shared her perspective in that week’s portfolio:
This week ‘s teachings introduced me to something totally new, because I had never heard about the Drama triangle before. It’s a simple, graphic way that helps to understand the way our mind gets stuck on complex behavioural patterns. I thought it would be useful to draw on my very limited understanding of Dharma and try to relate it to the Drama Triangle.
The first thing that sprang to my mind was that everyone is individually responsible both for entering the Triangle and for entering life in Samsara. Choosing to do so depends entirely on yourself. You have the option to develop the skills and wisdom that will enable you to step off the Drama Triangle, and on a much bigger aspirational level, to do the practices that lead you to freedom from the sufferings of Samsara and to enlightenment.
The course material states, “We are never victims except by choice.” Therefore, it seems to me that the way to free yourself from both the Drama Triangle and Samsara has to do with practicing the Dharma.
Practice means assuming responsibility for the way your mind works, practicing self-acceptance while trying to recognize your own weaknesses and difficulties, and amplifying your positive potential. It’s also about learning the skills to develop a kind and compassionate mind. All these will help destroy self-centered thoughts that give rise to destructive emotions. In doing so, you will hopefully reduce your attachment to act out the three roles of the Drama Triangle: Rescuer, Persecutor, and Victim. You will also be able to deal with feelings of anger and correct the wrong views about yourself, others, and the false enticements of Samsara.
Having the aspiration to eradicate the three poisons will free you from the Triangle and eventually liberate you from Samsara in a definite way.