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Changing People vs Touching People

     
   

William Elliott : "I was once told that I shouldn't try to change people, that if I touched them, they'd change themselves.

Jean Houston, Ph.D.: "That's true. Each of us bears what I call an entelechy. Entelechy is Greek, meaning seeding, coding, dynamic propulsion. It's the entelechy of the acorn to become an oak tree, the entelechy of a baby to be a grownup in the world. The entelechy of you or me is to be -- God only knows what! Sometimes, we get glimpses of entelechy. Part of our purpose is to track into the entelechy of maturation. Once it starts in us, twenty years later we will look back on our old selves as Neanderthals, we'll be so different.

"When we touch people, you can be deeply present, witnessing, evoking, midwifing their entelechy. Then, you have to recognize when to stand back and not say, "Let me help you", and not get in the way while natural process unfolds."

~ Wlliam Elliott, Tying Rocks to Clouds, p. 88. 1996. Image/Doubleday (New York).

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Anam Cara

     
   

In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the "soul friend". In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your innermost self, your mind and your heart...

In everyone's life there is great need for an anam cara, a soul friend...Where you are understood, you are at home. Understanding nourishes belonging. When you really feel understood, you feel free to release yourself into the trust and shelter of the other person's soul.

~ John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom, pp. 13-14. 1997. Cliff Street Books (New York).

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Doubt & Wonder
     
   

...an essential ingredient of crazy wisdom is perspective ~ the understanding born of multiple views and multiple truths. Furthermore, the spark that keeps moving crazy wisdom from point of view to point of view is a basic attitude of doubt. As Voltaire stated, "Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one."

Of course, many see doubt as a negative state, a continual restlessness or frowning skepticism. But on the other side of doubt lies wonder, the feeling that comes from having an empty head and an open heart...Albert Einstein embraced the wonder that plays such a crucial role in all realms of life:

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whosoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.

~ Wes Nisker, Crazy Wisdom, p. 114. 1990. Ten Speed Press (Berkeley).

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How Therapy Works

     
   

...Psychotherapy is often described as "treatment". The traditional terminology of patient, doctor, diagnosis, even therapist ~ borrowed from medicine by the first generations of therapists, who often were physicians ~ suggests the image of an active "doctor" healing a passive "patient"...Seeing therapy through the eyes of medicine distorts it, as Freud was the first to point out. But the image survives largely because of the unexpressed wish most clients have in starting therapy that their therapist will "do something" to them to "cure" them of their problems...

While it is easy...to look to your therapist as someone who will cure what ails you, psychotherapy has only a superficial resemblance to this outmoded medical model. Therapy is a collaborative process between you and your therapist that is based on your active participation. You must work together or therapy doesn't work at all.

~ Jack Engler, Ph.D. and Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., The Consumer's Guide to Psychotherapy, p. 20. 1992. Simon & Shuster/Fireside (New York).

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