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Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated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)
Quotes For Life
When I was little I had a mood swing set.
is when reality is awake to itself as itself within itself.
Every day my ego perpetrates the most egregious kind of identity theft.
If you don't
know where you are going, any road will take you there."
Gravity can't be blamed for people falling in love.
If you're determined to make it up as you go along, at least make it interesting.
Whatever I am
aware of cannot be me because I am what is aware!
The more you say, the less people remember.
Ego is basically the movement of the mind toward objects of perception in the
form of grasping
Let go or be dragged.
People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I think that what
we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on
the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being
and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That's what
it's all finally about, and that's what these clues help us to find within ourselves.
We can see the drop in the ocean but can we see the ocean in the drop?
See without looking, hear without listening, breathe without asking.
If you can think
about, it's not the truth.
You are looking FOR your true Self, when all the while you are already looking
FROM your true Self. Just notice.
I know of no single thing more conducive to great harm than an unrestrained mind.
A human being is
a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He
experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the
rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind
of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for
a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole
of nature in its beauty.
There do in fact exist creators,
seers, sages, saints, shakers, and movers
even if they are uncommon and do
not come by the dozen. And yet these very same people can at times be boring,
irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed. To avoid disillusionment with
human nature, we must first give up our illusions about it.
The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.
have grasped the truth that the world is full of suffering, that to be born is
a calamity, you will find the urge and the energy to go beyond. Pleasure puts
you to sleep and pain wakes you up. If you do not want to suffer, don't go to
sleep. You cannot know yourself through bliss alone, for bliss is your very nature.
You must face the opposite, what you are not, to find enlightenment.
So letting go
is what the whole game is.
There are no heavens, there are no hells,
to the conclusion; I am unborn, I was unborn and I shall
Before you can think outside the box, you must realize you're in one.
I slept and dreamt
that life was joy. But I awoke, and saw that life was service. I acted, and behold:
service was joy.
Happiness doesn´t ask anything of you. But to suffer you must make some
effort at relationship. You must refer to some relationship with a person, thing
or idea in order to suffer. Then you get unhappy because you need something. To
be happy is your fundamental nature. Nothing is needed.
Hypothetical questions get hypothetical answers.
Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person
or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds
we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
If you don't see God
in everyone, you don't see God at all.
When 'my' and 'thy' merge, there is total surrender; your will is one with the
You are not what happens; you are the space in which it happens. You are not your
thoughts; they come and go. You are the vastness in which these thoughts appear
and disappear because underneath all your thinking there is the stillness of pure
being,... pure consciousness, the timeless dimension of yourself.
as the ocean of consciousness in which all happens. This is not difficult. A little
of attentiveness, of close observation of oneself, and you will see that no event
is outside your consciousness.
Freedom means being able to choose how we respond to things.
A Living Gem from Ramesh Balsekar (never before published)
Living Made Simple
For every beauty there is an eye
somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For
every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it.
You're not rewarded for having brains. You're only rewarded for using them.
You can't climb
a mountain by a level road.
Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer.
state is not, as is commonly supposed, the special state. The unenlightened state
is the magical, mysterious, incomprehensible state. Awake is just awake. It's
not something more, it's everything less. My state is natural and easy. I carry
no baggage. I labor under no delusion. I don't spend my lifeforce animating a
fictional persona. All paradox lies with the unawakened state. The awakened don't
have something that the unawakened are missing, it's the other way around. The
unawakened posess massive structures of false belief. They create and maintain
these vast realms of past, present and future; of great meaning and importance;
of a deep and wide emotional range; all woven together out of sheer nothingness.
Something from nothing; that's the magic, that's the special state. The unawakened
state is the one that requires such ceaseless dedication and devotion and which
seems so fantastically improbable. The awakened state is nothing compared to that.
tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
means giving up all hope for a better past.
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked
by the laughter of the gods.
Everything is clear. It does not need to be made clear. It does not need to be
made clear because it never was unclear. Because you were never unclear there
is no change required. You simply instinctively recognize that you have always
been clear. The term 'lack of clarity' becomes meaningless. Lack of clarity is
recognized to be impossible. ...
Questioner: Why so much insistence on relinquishing all desires and fears? Are they not natural?
Nisargadatta Maharaj: They are not. They are entirely mind-made. You have to give up everything to know that you need nothing, not even your body. Your needs are unreal, and your efforts are meaningless. You imagine that your possessions protect you. In reality they make you vulnerable. Realise yourself as away from all that can be pointed at as 'this' or 'that'.
Student: Letting go of our egocentricity so we can experience awakening do you suppose it is peeled off us the way we peel an orange?
Peeling is like having a dream at night in which you dream you are going to a
therapist, and you start feeling better and better, and you feel like you are
Student: I've made up all of it?
Adyashanti: The whole thing. But the awakeness in you is not dreaming. Only the mind is dreaming. It tells itself stories and wants to know if you're progressing. When you shift into wakefulness, you realize, "Wait, it's a dream. The mind is creating an altered state of reality, a virtual reality, but it's not trueit's just thought." Thought can tell a million stories inside of awareness, and it's not going to change awareness one bit. The only thing that's going to change is the way the body feels. If you tell yourself a sad story, the body reacts to that. And if you tell yourself a self-aggrandizing story, the body feels puffed up, confident. But when you realize it's all stories, there can be a vast waking up out of the mind, out of the dream. You don't awaken, what has eternally been awake realizes itself. That which is eternally awake is what you are.
God helps those who help themselves.
Time is too slow for those who wait; too swift for those who fear; too long for
those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice. But for those who love, time
A single disturbing thought creates ten thousand distractions.
One could say that the word non-duality is pointing to the unlearning of the idea
that language is delivering truth.
The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your
We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity-but if we dare to examine
it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things
to prop it up; our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home,
job, friends, credit cards
. It is on their fragile and transient support
that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any
idea of who we really are?
If you all just
let the scales drip from your eyes, you realize that everything everywhere is
filled with truth; everything everywhere is filled with Buddha; everything everywhere
is to be appreciated!
Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.
I LEFT MY STORY IN A BARN so someone else could keep milking it. I left my story
in the fitting room; it didn't fit me anymore. I left my story at the hospital
because it wouldn't stop bleeding. I left my story at the rest stop; it needed
a rest. I left my story at the body shop because it always wanted a different
one. I left my story with some cash so it could never say, "Poor me."
I left my story without saying where I was going because I didn't want it to follow
me; it never even noticed I was gone.
Why is it that so few people are truly free? Because they try to conform to ideas,
concepts, and beliefs in their heads. They try to concentrate their way to heaven.
But Freedom is about the natural
Take one step backward into the unknown.
The Unknown is more vast, more open, more peaceful, and more freeing than you ever imagined it would be. If you don't experience it that way, it means you're not resting there; you're still trying to know. That will cause you to suffer because you're choosing security over Freedom.
When you rest deeply in the Unknown without trying
to escape, your experience becomes very vast. As the experience of the Unknown
deepens, your boundaries begin to dissolve. You realize, not just
which transcends both the self and the other, that's what my teaching is about.
Let me prove this to you: While everyone is turned this way to hear me, out back
there may be sparrows chirping, human
you doing the hearing, so it's not a matter of the self. But since no one else
does your hearing for you, you couldn't call it the other! When you listen this
way with the Unborn Buddha-mindyou
The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, sleep sufficiently,
work industriously, worship faithfully-and then lie about your age.
The graveyards are
full of indispensable men.
How do you govern a country that has two hundred and forty six different kinds
To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not,
to think one knows what doe does not know. No one knows whether death may not
be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that
it is the greatest of evils.
Life is tough
What do you get at the end of it? A death. What's that, a
bonus? I think the life cycle is al backward. You should die first, get it out
of the way. Then you live in an old-age home. You get kicked out when you're too
young and you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you're
young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get
ready for high school. You go to grade school you become a kid, you play, you
have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb,
you spend your last nine months floating-and you finish off as an orgasm.
I have always looked upon decay as
being just as wonderful and rich an expression of life as growth.
When the signs
of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind); when the
ill that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within
me; when the painful moment comes in which I suddenly awaken to the fact that
I am ill or growing old;
in all those dark moments, O God, grant that I
may understand that it is You (provided only my faith is strong enough) who are
painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow
of my substance and bear me away within Yourself.
Death is only
a change of condition: time and space are in you; you are not in time and space.
I am letting
go of my idea of time. I see that eternal life is not a question of "I will
be forever," but of "Now I am." Eternity is time dying in me.
The absurd denial
of the truth is natural to man.
We all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, our ravages. Our task
is not to unleash them on the world; it is to transform them in ourselves and
Q: Isn't it legitimate to use the term "enlightened person" when referring to someone from whom ignorance has been removed? If so, didn't this removal occur at some specific point in time?
A: Enlightenment is the absolute understanding that you are not a person. When this is understood, is there a person left from whom ignorance has been removed? Enlightenment is also the realization that time is an illusion. When this is realized, is there a specific point in time that can be assigned to this realization?
may seem intellectual to you. However, I assure you that they are simply honest
and straightforward, and that they take you directly to the truth. I am reluctant
to use the term "enlightened person" because it implies the belief that
a personal entity might ever reach enlightenment. When you think of a beautiful
human being, one you may call "enlightened," his or her enlightenment
originates from the absence of the idea of being anything objective. From the
viewpoint of light, that is, in the absence of such a notion, nobody is enlightened,
nobody is non-enlightened, everything is light.
Every human being is that spark of consciousness coming into this dimension. It comes and then goes back into the source. And something takes something back to the source like a bee going back to the beehive with some nectar. Not accumulated knowledge or anything like that but something takes back. That's as far as I can go right now with this. And that comes out of an intuitive tuning in.
So to know who you are beyond concepts embrace the "not knowing" in yourself. And then you're getting closer to the essence of who you are. Let's see if you can get a limited understanding of what this not knowing is...thoughts subside for a moment but the strange thing is there is something that is still present there. I say something but it's not something, but language is limited because language is about the world of things. Thoughts subside and there's something even when you're not thinking, you're actually present. And even if you were not perceiving at that time...you could say, 'yes I'm present because there's sense perception happening.' Even if you close you eyes and even if you put ear-plugs in or there's total silence. We can even try it now. You close your eyes. All visual sense perception have become obliterated. And there's no noise going on either. So before you were aware of visual perceptions and you are aware of this voice and now there's neither visual perceptions nor auditory perceptions for a moment.
You are still there. The amazing thing is even without reminding yourself about your past or your future, your present life situation or your name or looking at your body, there is something that is still present. You know that, but it is not differentiated. It doesn't have a history, what is still present. It has no past and no future to it.
You can't really say much about it. You can't define it further because it is what Buddhists call empty. It's emptiness. It's formlessness. It is formless consciousness. If you find that in yourself and it's always there underneath the movement of form which is thinking and emotions and even sense perceptions. Underneath, it is always there. If you find that, even the most unprofitable life, people who have messed their whole life up, has become redeemed because you have found the one thing that really matters, yourself.
Of course you can't stay there indefinitely in that space. At some point the world of form returns. But what is possible is not to lose connectedness with that dimension. In other words and this is the ultimate spiritual practice until it becomes a natural way to live. In the background you can sense that spaciousness still even while you're perceiving things.
Let's go there again very briefly, close your eyes. No more visual perception. No more sounds. What's left? A sense, there may be some thoughts left, but if you're very alert, the alertness will obliterate the thoughts, too. So there are no thoughts left in that alertness. Alert!
What's left. Can't define it, but you are still there in that formless simple presence, you are actually being the essence of yourself. And it is that which gives you your sense of identity. Even when you associate your sense of identity with your life history and memories. That your memories get mixed up with the essential sense of beingness that is the formless empty space in yourself. That is the primordial "I," the timeless "I."
And that is your identity. In the unawakened unenlightened state that primordial consciousness, formless consciousness, gets mixed up with the memory of who you are. And so you get a diluted version of who you are and you think you are your past history, your memories and your ambitions and your fears. But if you disentangle your sense of beingness, which is the essential sense of identity, if you disentangle that from thought and we're doing it here, if you disentangle your sense of identity from thought, what is left then you can actually experience...I'm saying you experience it but that's not right because language created-subject object divisions...you experience yourself as the subject, the subject experiences itself, the subject experiences itself as formless consciousness. It is that which is the very foundation for your identity. The preciousness that you are.
The preciousness that everybody feels, there is something there that is so wonderful. It's "I," but it gets mixed up with form and then people get some form identity.
So it's vital to disentangle
consciousness and form which usually are mixed up together. And once you've disentangled
it you may want to do that quite often. But ultimately it's living a normal life
without losing that awareness of the essential formlessness of who you are in
the background even while you're perceiving forms. You are looking at the flowers,
you're looking at other human beings, you're dealing with things without losing
yourself in the forms anymore, because you still have in the background an awareness
of the formlessness. In fact the awareness is the formless in the background.
No matter where you go you are essentially a field of formless consciousness experiencing
the things of this world. And the field of formless consciousness is also experiencing
Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the
letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it
does not fit, is pedantry.... To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment,
noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule
obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery.
Power coerces, knowledge persuades, love converts.
We are the echo of the future.
Those who complain most are most to be complained of.
Getting something done is an accomplishment; getting something done right is an
Of the many complex and often confusing concepts that arise in this Teaching,
perhaps one of the most difficult is the distinction between duality and dualism.
Look. This little finger covers the eye and prevents the whole world from being
seen. In the same way this small mind covers the whole universe and prevents Reality
from being seen.
It comes to this paradox-that the farther they travel on the path of ego-effort,
the farther they move from their goal, and the less they try to approach their
Source the closer they come to it!
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all
the way... and not starting.
I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy
right up to the day he killed himself
Seize the moment. Remember all those woman on the Titanic who waved off the dessert
Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
moderation, including moderation.
Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.
Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific
knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favorable comparison with
the products of nature, the living cell of the planet, the final result of the
rays of the sun, the mother of all life.
Consciousness is beyond any idea.
The whole manifestation of this world is an expression of the same Consciousness
that you are. You should not love anything other than your true nature, Consciousness.
Deep desires, deep expectations: How can that be love?
Anything that can show you what you are is
actually pointing out what you are not.
Questions only exist as long as you think you are the body and the individual.
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it
at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
Sex is like money: very nice to have but vulgar to talk about.
Occasionally in life
there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be explained by
the symbols we call words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible
language of the heart.
You can never step into the same river twice, the river is not the same and the
man is not the same.
Do not take anything on trust merely because it has passed down through tradition, or because your teachers say it, or because your elders have taught you, or because it's written in some famous scripture. When you have seen it and experienced it for yourself to be right and true, then you can accept it.
-Shakyamuni Buddha (The Buddha)
I think that just not thinking of oneself is a form of prayer.
I was young, I observed that nine out of every 10 things I did were failures,
so I did 10 times more work.
Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.
It is the
emptiness within the cup that makes it useful.
Power lies in making distinctions. Freedom lies in destroying them.
People seem not
to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
is to be; and not to be this or that.
If everything that isn't true is let go, what remains must be true.
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Form is not different from emptiness
can become who we really are, we must become conscious of the fact that the person
who we think we are, here and now, is at best an imposter and a stranger.
delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.
Do I see the world
because it is there, or is the world there because I see it?
Know when to tune out. If you listen to too much advice you may wind up making
other people's mistakes.
Why do children want to grow up? Because they experience their lives as constrained
by immaturity and perceive adulthood as a condition of greater freedom and opportunity.
But what is there today, in America, that
adolescents want to do but cannot
do? Not much: they can do drugs, have sex, make babies, and get money
such adolescents, adulthood becomes synonymous with responsibility rather than
liberty. Is it any surprise that they remain adolescents?
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