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  • Writer's pictureJill Brocklehurst

Fellow Travellers

“If we choose the path to Fulfillment, the journey will be long. There will be times in which we must watch our step. There will be times we can stop to enjoy the view. We keep going. We keep going. Crowds gather to join us on the journey.

And when our lives are over, those who joined us on the path to Fulfillment will keep going without us, and inspire others to join them too." ~ Simon Sinek (The Infinite Game)

We are on this path together. There is never a day that goes by where I have not had to face my own shadow; my sense of ‘inadequate self’. Today, I would like to share with you part of a chapter from The Gift of Therapy, by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D, and let the wisdom of his words inspire you, like they did me.

In his book, Yalom shares the words of German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer:

“In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like children in a theatre before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin. It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen. Could we foresee it, there are times when children might seem like condemned prisoners, condemned, not to death, but to life, and as yet all unconscious of what their sentence means.”

Yalom’s book goes on to share one of his favourite tales of healing, as found in Magister Ludi, a work by author, Hermann Hesse:

“Joseph and Dion were two renowned healers, who lived in biblical times. Though both were highly effective, they worked in different ways. The younger healer, Joseph, healed through quiet, inspired listening. Pilgrims trusted Joseph. Suffering and anxiety, poured into his ears, vanished like water on the desert sand and penitents left his presence emptied and calmed. "On the other hand, Dion, the older healer, actively confronted those who sought his help. He divined their unconfessed sins. He was a great judge, chastiser, scolder, and rectifier, and he healed through active intervention. Treating the penitents as children, he gave advice, punished by assigning penance, ordered pilgrimages and marriages, and compelled enemies to make up.

“The two healers never met, and they worked as rivals for many years until Joseph grew spiritually ill, fell into dark despair, and was assailed with ideas of self-destruction. Unable to heal himself with his own therapeutic methods, he set out on a journey to the South, to seek help from Dion.

“On his pilgrimage, Joseph rested one evening at an oasis, where he fell into a conversation with an older traveller. When Joseph described the purpose and destination of his pilgrimage, the traveller offered himself as a guide, to assist in the search for Dion. Later, in the midst of their long journey together, the old traveller revealed his identity to Joseph. Mirabile dictu: he himself was Dion - the very man Joseph sought.

“Without hesitation, Dion invited his younger, despairing rival into his home, where they lived and worked together for many years. Dion first asked Joseph to be a servant. Later, he elevated him to a student and, finally, to full colleagueship. "Years later, Dion fell ill and, on his deathbed, called his young colleague to him in order to hear a confession. He spoke of Joseph’s earlier terrible illness and his journey to old Dion to plead for help. He spoke of how Joseph had felt it was a miracle that his fellow traveller and guide turned out to be Dion himself.

“Now that he was dying, the hour had come. Dion told Joseph to break his silence about that miracle. Dion confessed that, at the time, it had seemed a miracle to him as well, for he, too, had fallen into despair. He, too, felt empty and spiritually dead and, unable to help himself, had set off on a journey to seek help. On the very night that they had met at the oasis, he was on a pilgrimage to a famous healer named Joseph”.

“Hesse’s tale has always moved me in a preternatural way”, Yalom goes on to write. “It strikes me as a deeply illuminating statement about giving and receiving help, about honesty and duplicity, and about the relationship between healer and patient. The two men received powerful help, but in very different ways. The younger healer was nurtured, nursed, taught, mentored, and parented. The older healer, on the other hand, was helped through serving another, through obtaining a disciple from whom he received filial love, respect, and salve for his isolation.

“But now, reconsidering the story, I question whether these two wounded healers could not have been of even more service to one another. Perhaps they missed the opportunity for something deeper, more authentic; more powerfully mutative. Perhaps the real therapy occurred at the deathbed scene, when they moved into honesty with the revelation that they were fellow travellers, both simply human… all too human. The twenty years of secrecy, helpful as they were, may have obstructed and prevented a more profound kind of help. What might have happened if Dion’s deathbed confession had occurred twenty years earlier; if healer and seeker had joined together in facing the questions that have not answers?

“All of this echoes Rilke’s letters to a young poet, in which he advises, ‘Have patience with everything unresolved, and try to love the questions themselves.' I would add: ‘Try to love the questioners as well.’”

I WONDER, JUST FOR THIS WEEK if we could be a little more candid with each other, sharing what is true for ourselves and committing to being people with whom others can express themselves with candour… what Greater Good might reveal itself?

~ Pick someone you have been withholding from. Consider any facts, thoughts (including beliefs, opinions, and judgments), feelings, and sensations you have been keeping hidden. ~ Reach out and have a heart to heart conversation with that person, and watch your relationship deepen and grow.

~ Then, write to me to let me know how it goes. I would love to hear about your experience. ( ~ If you are ready to let go of limiting ideas for yourself, I invite you to join us at one of our classes. Follow this link for more info

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