Posted by: forfreedomalone | 08/08/2010

First Impressions

I was asked to see a new client the other day. Nothing interesting or exciting about that. The interesting part was how she related to me. We have a mutual friend who had linked us and so, when I went to see her, I expected to be greeted with, at least, a modicum of gratitude and respect. I was, instead, greeted as an old and much hated enemy.

I was making no headway at all and was becoming angry at how she was treating me. I didn’t ask to be part of her life, I didn’t push my way into her troubles, she asked for me. I left, after about 3/4 of an hour, saying that I would email to make another appointment if she wanted to try again.

I got in my car and drove away with no real thought of where I was going; I just knew I did not want to go home, I was not ready to leave this alone. So I drove to the sea and sat awhile on a boulder staring at the water and wondering what I had done to deserve such treatment.

This woman was in her 30s, she was in a miserable marriage, felt unloved and unheard. She had tried various therapies to no avail and had asked me to help her.  I had given up an afternoon in the sun with my book (the first I had the chance of in months) for her and I was now fuming at the injustice of how she had responded to my sacrifice on her behalf. Really, it was too much!!!

As I looked out over the water I thought of stanzas 7 and 8 of the Tao……

The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.

I was not letting go of self; in fact I was clinging to self. I was the centre of my meeting, not my client. She was testing me, not knowingly, but testing me all the same. She was pushing me away with vile behaviour to see how I would respond to her and I had responded as she expected I would, I had left her, unloved and unheard. I had not detached from me…from the need to be important in that situation and at that time……….I was invested in being respected and I failed to respect. Unlike the water and the Tao I had sought the high, not the low, place.

An old story is told of a man who went to see the sage of his village to complain about the people who made him angry. The man cited event after event in which one villager after another had made him angry. Now he wanted the sage to intervene and speak to these people.

The sage asked the man “Are you not the man who was lost in the woods recently?”

“Yes, I am ” replied the other.

“That must have been very frightening”, commented the sage.

“Yes, it was. I was trapped up a tree by the wolves who came looking for their dinner. I could only get down when I could throw something far enough that they would chase it. Then I could climb down, run to the next tree and climb up again. It took me 4 days to get back to the village”

“It must have made you very angry” said the sage.

“Angry. Why would it make me angry?”

“The wolves chasing you and wanting to eat you must have made you angry”

The man laughed, “No, it did not make me angry”

“Why was that?” asked the sage,

“The wolves were only doing what wolves do” said the man.

When we lose sight of that fact that everyone, absolutely everyone, has pain of some kind in their lives; when we lose sight of the fact that they react to that pain when it is impossible to ignore and when we lose sight of the fact that it was there before we came along, we make ourselves the centre of the universe. When we do that we are no longer at one with ourselves and no longer able to help anyone; not even ourselves.

I will remember it is her pain, not mine, next time I visit.

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