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If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients
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If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  2,438 ratings  ·  224 reviews
Therapists do not and cannot give answers. Explore the true nature of the therapeutic relationship, and realize that the guru is no Buddha. He is just another human struggling. Understanding the shape of your own personal ills will lead you on your journey to recovery. Sheldon Kopp has a realistic approach to altering one's destiny and accepting the responsibility that gro ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 1st 1982 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1972)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Sanjay Gautam
Dec 25, 2014 rated it liked it
When I started the book, I felt this guy has something new to say, or may be something new about Zen, as the title was confluence of zen and psychotherapy. But it turned out it was not about zen.

The book captures the essence of therapist-client as a parallel journey of two human beings in a relationship dependent upon the ability of both to become careful (full of care) for the other while traveling through metaphors, symbols, sagas and myths, each telling their stories along the way. This book
Jennifer Peas
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
An old professor stood in front of our class and pointed to this book, saying, "This is what separates the therapists from the advice givers." It's also the book that lead me to define better my role as a therapist...and making VERY clear the separation with friends who know me as a "thoughful friend who happens to also be a therapist." ...more
Haider Al-Mosawi
Mar 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up based on a recommendation from a friend.

The book gives examples of different types of pilgrimage, and looks at the motives behind each, comparing them to the journey psychotherapy patients goes in their quest for peace of mind.

The basic message behind the book is that you don't need a guru/teacher/psychotherapist to attain peace, since you already possess the knowledge you need and must look for meaning within rather than solutions from others.

"If you meet the Buddha on the
Oct 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this book about every three years when things are really rough. An engaging re think of psychotherapy that is a bit 60s glib in places but in others really deep and fun and makes you laugh at yourself. He sees psycho therapy as a wrestling match between the therapist and the patient in which the latter tries to force the therapist to make him better and the therapist keeps fighting this until finally the patient gives up fighting and realizes only they can heal themselves. Then the therap ...more
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was one of the several who picked this up after it was mentioned on the television show "Fringe" as being the favorite book of one of the main characters. I have no background in psychology and have never been in therapy, but can say it was well worth the 2 month wait for a battered paperback to come in through interlibrary loan.

Full of fantastic quotes, interspersed with narrative (which occasionally meanders a bit -- though staying true to the nature of the book), I'll agree with another rev
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
If I Meet Sheldon B. Kopp on the Road, I will Kill Him! That's what I thought when I was halfway through the If You Meet the Buddha on the Road Kill Him. Towards the end though it completely changed my perspective. Don't be biased like I was after seeing the "The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients" in the title and the continuous mention of "in therapy" throughout the book.

"The most important things that each man must learn no one can teach him. Once he accepts this disappointment, he will be
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
Wow, I first read this 28 years ago! WOW. I had been in therapy for 6 yrs at that point, and my first emotion was embarassment. When he described the initial stages of the a new patient starting in therapy, I thought, "Oh, god, you mean EVERYONE does that?!?! ARRGGHH!!" Even as I was laughing.

To this day, I remember and quote lines from the Eschatological Laundry list. For someone in the working world (and ain't we all), one of the most critical and useful (however shocking I found it initially)
Paul Eckert
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is a good therapy session for the atheist/agnostic who loves to deal with the ‘big questions’ inside their head, or is too poor to see a psychologist.

I would not rule out that a religious person could get a lot of this book, as I’m sure they could. However, I think those with literal interpretations of holy books would have a hard time with what Dr. Kopp recognizes as the first step in any patient’s pilgrimage: there is no point to anything, and this world is all that we have.

If You S
Dec 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Doug, wise friend from The Village Bookstore and Writers Group, recommended this book to me. It's interesting and thought-provoking. Kopp compares psychotherapy to a spiritual journey, and by the end of the book, I knew it was just that. He takes seveal classic books and shows us the pilgrim's path and compares them to different aspects of therapy and the therapeutic relationship. I love the author's honesty and openness, sharing his own life and struggles.
When I saw the title, I thought, why w
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I am one of the people to read this book because of it being mentioned in the TV series "The Fringe". It was recommended reading to understand the relationship between Peter and Walter. I have never read a book on Psychology (the voices in my head had up until now convinced me I didn't need to) and I didn't expect to enjoy this or understand what was going on. I actually did enjoy this, I think I even understand the reason it was mentioned in the TV series, the journey is not just for the patien ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Psychotherapist Kopp wrote this book in 1972, but it still works today. This book is a wonderful read for anyone who wonders, worries or agonizes about the meaning of life, and whether they're doing it "right."

Whether giving or receiving therapy, this book reminds us that we are all humans -- nobody has all the answers. The eschatological laundry list (which I've seen roaming around the web, but never attributed to Kopp) has become a classic.

1. This is it!

2. There are no hidden meanings

3. You
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread, 2014, favorites, 2019, 2022

This book is there for me when I need it.


I think about this book all the time and was glad to find it held up upon a reread. Here are a few passages that stood out to me this time around:

You cannot get out of a trap unless you first get into it.

But he finds, as we all do, that you can't make anyone love you. You just have to reveal who you are and take your chances.

It is enough if a man accepts his freedom, takes his best shot, does what he can, faces the consequences of his acts, and
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I rarely say it, but I think this is an absolute must-read. Some views are outdates, ok, but if you go beyond those few limits, this is the best thing you can read on the meaning (or rather on the lack of meaning) of life, and on the journey of the pilgrimage/human being trough it. The style is spontaneous and authentic, and the ideas expressed contain great wisdom. Do yourself a favor and read it.
Matt M.
Jun 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book for anybody in therapy. Anybody that tells you they have all the answers is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The whole book is worth the axioms at the end. Enjoy! ...more
Christina Vourcos
I haven't read it yet, but I'm planning to because a character in the tv show Fringe said it was his favorite book. So I have to know what it's about. ...more
Conor Maguire
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Kopp draws on world myths and literary classics to chart a metaphor of the psychotherapist-patient relation as a pilgrimage. Erudite, very self-conscious.
Himanshu Inamdar
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
The path of growth is fraught with obstacles, and the exploration of psychotherapy is a way to begin walking along the path. Dr. Sheldon Kopp combines his vast experience of psychotherapy with myths and works of fiction as well as the works of other psychologists to weave a compelling book that charts the beginning of the path.

The practicality of the book, wherein Dr. Kopp recounts stories of various patients, is complemented by the honesty of the author, who freely shares his mistakes and perso
Piet Aukeman
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover’s typography caught my eye on a $1 bargain book cart, and the title is a favorite zen phrase essentially meaning “you can’t find meaning outside of yourself.” At the time I wasn’t interested in psychotherapy, but I bit.

The anecdotes about the patient-therapist relationship are quite interesting, as are the reflections that the therapist themselves are as much a pilgrim on a spiritual journey as the patient that comes to them. They don’t have the answers for you, but they might be able
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I went into reading this book with an expectation that I knew what to expect. What I got out of the book was far more than I believed. Along with the realization that I had no idea what I was thinking, I found parts pissed me off, parts made me happy, parts made me introspective, and other parts made me cry. At no point did I feel I was wasting my time reading the book. While some of the material is definitely dated, and my copy had been updated to include both genders (at certain points), I fel ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very thoughtful book, well written, deep and profound--The title means don't search for truths entirely outside of yourself. The author's theme is to consider your life a Pilgrimage where there are no easy or certain answers. "Life is a mystery to be lived not a problem to be solved" Scott Peck
Mr. Kopp makes you dig deep within, and to wrestle with Paradoxes. He uses literature from the western and oriental classics to help guide you.. He is a Psychoanalyst and a Medical Doctor by back
Wiebke (1book1review)
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This actually surprised me how much I liked it. It reads very easily despite being solely addressed to men.
I liked the tone of the book as well as the eternal truths and tales of pilgrimage and how that all related to life and therapy.
Apr 05, 2013 rated it liked it
All in all this was a decent, thought-provoking read. However it did leave me feeling the strong and rather conflicting presence of the author. At times he comes off as an arrogant know it all, who claims insights that are a least a bit contrived. He also clearly loves talking about himself, even when he is telling a story about someone else. He does, more toward the end of the book, show more vulnerability and honesty, perhaps enough to look past the otherwise somewhat negative vibe he creates. ...more
May 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book is so full of 1970s buzzwords — 'groovy', 'cosmic', saying 'pilgrimage' when you mean just living your life — that it reads like a heavily timestamped artifact of the past, even though the message is basically timeless: an adult should be no man's disciple. This book should really be recommended to the Coelho fanbase — they'd recognise their favourite 'spiritual' language and the gist is something they should probably hear.

One thing that I found seriously disturbing though was Kopp's n
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Mar 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Started off well, the tales from various literature along with the psychological interpretations are interesting. I really loved the tale of Gilgamesh - it can already make a great epic film! But somewhere down the line I felt that I got what it was trying to say, and it kept saying the same thing with various illustrations. Maybe, it did put forth different ideas; but I feel this is the reason I am not cut-out to read out and out non-fiction books. Be it physics, or psychology, or paranormal mu ...more
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this while a teenager at the request of my Father. I don't know why, since I wasn't into any "subversive" groups (at the worst, it was the Girl Scouts), but the content has really helped me as I grew up and developed an interest into alternative religion. The lack of "googly-eyes" in this field, where almost everyone who publishes a book gains an ego and expects fawning followers - they just don't impress me.
I do make mistakes now and then, but I can't help but weed out "fluffy-bunny" ne
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoying the message, except for the author's struggle with the plight of the female. Ironically I think the stories that he adds in order to give examples or clarification are distracting from the meat of the book, I think they're just too archaic for me.

--*after finishing*--

It's funny that I've had this sitting on my shelf for over three years, and I just now picked it up to read it and found so many parallels with what I'm thinking and going through presently. At times, synchronicity i
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Made me not want to read any book related to therapy ever again. The last "How To:" Get on with it. I'll think I'll write a Daybook for Neurotics after this just to drive the point home... Day 1: Damn. Life Has No Meaning, Day 2 - 365: Stop Worrying About It. The following 370 pages will be filled with gibberish and illustrations by children in third world countries divorced from the explanations of the "Therapists" that seek to find meaning in the abyss. It is just 'the abyss.' You are not that ...more
Debbie Vest
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the Eschatological Laundry List: some of the list that I like and believe:
This is it!
You only get to keep what you give away.
You have a responsibility to do your best nonetheless
You can't make anyone love you
it is very hard to be an on-your-own,take-care-of -yourself...grown-up
All important decisions must be made on the basis of insufficient data
And last but not the least
Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again...
This was a interesting read. Very glad to have had it recommend
Sep 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
My professor for Intro to Counseling recommended this, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Stella Luna as his favorite books. Basically, the key to psychotherapy is that there is no key. Anyone claiming to be "the Buddha" is dangerous because one of the central points of Buddhism is that we're all buddhas, we're all seeking enlightenment. As a therapist, you can't cure anyone you can only help people cure themselves. ...more
Jun 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality, own
The first part was slow going, it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the book. I really liked part two where he uses epic tales to convey his message. Part three and four using his clinical and personal life experiences put it all together for me. Now I understand the title of the book and also need to try and remember "... our very efforts to catch hold of what we are seeking may prevent us from discovering what is already there." ...more
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