Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
You are the GiftA Sufi Story
lover came to the dwelling of the Beloved and asked to be admitted.
After wandering in grief and longing
for years, the lover returned to the
Commentary by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
This Sufi story is a deceptively simple yet wise window into true love. If you've ever wondered where, when and whom brings the gifts to your life and the party of life besides Our Beloved, then your search is over-it's here, now and you. You are the gift! In fact, we're all the gift since we're all are the One. True love has no shame in giving everything to the other person who is no different than you in Truth. This story is not one of ego, whether co-dependent selflessness by purely focusing on another, nor is it immature selfishness by purely focusing on oneself.
While we all bring gifts, some have developed theirs to the point that they bring it with them when they come. What a welcome surprise to find someone who brings their growth, maturity and compassion as a person with them into life. When we gratefully receive another's gift we simultaneously receive the very gift we gave. Then there is a natural sharing of true love in the One we all are. It's great for another treasured soul to gift us, or for us to gift someone else, with presence, intelligence, intuitive wisdom and heart-felt compassion. It's magnificent beyond words to kindly be present and highly supportive of you, bequeathing this precious keystone of compassionate love to yourself. By accepting another's gift of love we naturally and spontaneously reconnect to our own love. This story beautifully illustrates the art of gift giving, a cardinal principle of being human, including what we perceive as being in meaningful relationships.
To give another what you want yourself is but to be a mediocre gift-giver indeed. Psychology professor Ellen J. Langer calls this "context confusion," that is, to generally assume that another persons' intentions and motives match your own, when the same behavior may have very different meanings. To give another what is their heart's desire is to be the oft-heralded king or queen of gift giving. If you are so blessed to receive such a gift, then there is no end to the thanks you will bestow upon the giver and our true Giver. The underlying assumption with gifts as opportunities for joy is much like a well-functioning system of arteries and veins in our bodies or people that well-utilize money in very constructive ways or gaining increased exposure to the latest music video-to keep the resource at hand well circulating, in high rotation and healthfully revitalized.
Individuals come from different attitudes and perspectives when it comes to giving and receiving gifts. It's the person's motive, purpose and attitude that are critical. Some lovely souls give and receive gifts as a benediction of joy and a caring pleasure. They give freely out of loving service to another and receive with equal graciousness for themselves. Their motive and purpose is how wonderful they feel in giving to someone and experiencing their joy as well as receiving the same when so gifted. This is most evident with young children, puppies and other young animals. Watching their joy in giving and receiving is infectious and contagious.
Then again there are others who give and receive out of an owing, obligation and entitlement. Their giving is driven by thinking that they must give certain things because it is their obligation in the social role they have with a person. Because it would be expected, so it must be given. In receiving another's gift, these people often think they are owed or entitled to certain things, whether it is deference, respect or fancy purchases. One root of this pattern of thinking you are owed may lie in early experiences of thinking you were deprived of certain life goodies. In this case, being owed may serve as an over-compensation for what you didn't get then and must get now. Bringing the motive to give in order to get or to make yourself happy because you seemingly made another happy is unhealthy co-dependence. True Love knows nothing of co-dependence or selfishness.
The opportunity is to return to the childlike joy of giving and receiving each other, the ultimate gifts we all bring. You are the gift and loving offer. You are the Divine's invitation to be your true nature, just as everyone is the same for themselves.
With no us, you or me, there is only the One we all are to naturally and joyfully share.
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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