Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my path of healing. I wondered what was the tipping point? Where I moved beyond my darkness and into the light. It wasn’t when I experienced unmanageability in my life. It wasn’t when I was no longer able to endure my discontent and uncomfortability. It wasn’t when loved ones suggested methods of healing. It wasn’t when counsellors or other professionals tried sharing their tools of wisdom. But instead, it was witnessing others on their own healing journey. They did not tell me what to do. It was a process of my own recognition, that whatever “they” were doing, was working in their own lives. They patiently waited for my own ego and stubbornness to crack. And when it did, I came to them and began asking questions. They shared about their own personal experiences and a sliver of hope was planted within me. This is the magic that separates the teachers from the gurus. "The difference is that a teacher points the way; the guru is the way." - Ram Dass. It is in understanding that we all have our own path up the mountain, which means we have to go within to listen to our own inner voice before choosing the path.
It's recognizing that telling someone “the answer”, only robs them of their own individual journey. The path begins when we are able to look inward and make the decision ourselves. In recovery this process is explained as “attraction rather than promotion”. It is the idea that we do not need to promote our path of recovery or healing by preaching to others. We only need to continue on our own paths, share our own personal experience and the rest will happen organically. This tradition removes the human desire of self-seeking and serves as a reminder that personal ambition has no place in this process.
And now I can see why. In my early days, I felt a strong desire to promote, or force my solution onto others. My intention was pure but my method was skewed. When I would see a person struggling, I would tell them my solution. As if, it was the only viable solution. But during the act of deciding which message to deliver to the person, I was judging them. I was essentially projecting my own personal perspective and biases, in order to determine which message to share. I was in turn, saying to the person “I am judging you. I can see you are sick. I can see you are defective. I can see something is wrong with you.” It is like Ram Dass explains:
“When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
This has been a profound lesson. I have been on both sides; being judged and judging others. It is easy to slip into this pattern once you’ve begun your own healing because we can easily see our own path in the sick person, but judging them only hinders the process. We can learn to appreciate whichever stage the person is operating in and accept them as they are. We can open our hearts, be honest and vulnerable and sharing our own personal experience. Knowing we are all on our own individual path. This is the essence of our journey in life. But, we are able to walk together (not lead), as One.
“We’re all just walking eachother home” - Ram Dass