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Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated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
We don't see things as they are; we see things
as we are.
fear knocked on the door, Love answered and no one was there.
Holding a grudge is letting
someone live rent-free in your head.
know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you
realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
we try to listen we find it extraordinarily difficult, because we are always projecting
our opinions and ideas, our prejudices, our background, our inclinations, our
impulses; when they dominate, we hardly listen at all to what is being said....
One listens and therefore learns, only in a state of silence, in which this whole
background is in abeyance, is quiet; then, it seems to me, it is possible to communicate.
First they came for the communists but I was not a communist so I kept quiet.
Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
-Martin Niemoller (he was freed by the Allied Forces in 1945 after spending one year in a Nazi prison followed by seven years in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau death camps.
a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk
in the dark.
we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions,
and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we
Ultimate state in spirituality is that state where no needs are felt at any time,
where nothing is useful for anything. That state is called Nirvana, Nirguna, that
which is the Eternal and Ultimate Truth. The essence and sum total of this whole
talk is called Sat-guru Parabrahman, that state in which there are no requirements.
for a wave in the ocean is the moment the wave realizes that it is water.
The arc of the moral
universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
Let life happen
to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always.
Maharaj once asked a seeker "What makes you unhappy?"
gives and forgives, ego gets and forgets.
feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength,
pleads no excuse of impossibility... Though weary, it is not tired; though pressed,
it is not straitened; though alarmed, it is not confounded...
has reasons that reason knows nothing of.
essence of the ego is the belief that there is "other"
can still remember their phone numbers.
In Buddhist tradition, the ninth century Zen master Lin Chi is regarded as saying: If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
hands imbibe like roots, so I place them on what is beautiful in this world. I
fold them in prayer, and they draw from the heavens light.
Those who dare to
fail miserably can achieve greatly.
my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.
Love is what we are born with. Fear is what
we have learned here. The spiritual journey is the
ordinary man seeks freedom through enlightenment.
Just an imaginary superimposition of illusory identity on the timeless, whole
and pristine all containing and omnipresent reality....
I spent enough time with the tiniest of creatures, even a caterpillar, I would
never have to prepare a sermon, so full of God is every creature.
You are no more your
personal history than you are your toothbrush.
Let my every
word be a prayer to Thee,
affects Consciousness, yet the Grace of Conscious Awareness brings light to the
conditioning of the personality with compassion and greater tendency for loving
kindness. As this is realised at home in the heart...it naturally flows to every
aspect of self, including the appearance of other. For some who have spontaneous
awakenings, without much life experience behind them, there can be a pull to remain
or become devotional as a way of deepening the form within the formless Awareness
they are. Some of our greatest examples, enlightened teachers thoughout history,
have been devotional as a way of expressing this enormous love that flows like
a raging river at times..It must express..If the Absolute view is taken that we
are Consciousness, and there is no loving kindness in that particular expression,
there may be an immature awakening that has halted its own potential for the great
expansiveness of unconditioned love and purity of heart.
If you want connection,
it's because you are connection.
minute I heard my first love story,
to reform the world without discovering one's true self is like trying to cover
the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns. It is
much simpler to wear shoes.
among the soundly alseep may not be the best criterion by which to judge a method
for waking up.
really what it comes down to, it's God. Wherever you look, it's God appearing
as this, that, and what you really love and appreciate in each form is the divine
formless out of which each form comes. But to be able to sense that you have to
sense it in yourself first. And that is seeing the beauty in everything, that's
really what it means.
of Self-realization is a delusion. It is only because people have been under the
delusion that the non-Self is the Self and the unreal the Real that they have
to be weaned out of it by the other delusion called Self-realization; because
actually the Self always is the Self and there is no such thing as realizing it.
only reason we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger
confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To
the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident
and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes.
is the ability to distinguish between real and perceived threats, being able to
know what should be feared and what should not be.
neither know or think that I know.
day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white
clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child-our own two eyes. All
is a miracle.
you want something, then you lose everything. If you don't want anything, then
you already have everything.
we talk to God, we're praying. When God talks to us, we're schizophrenic.
The mistakes you regret
the most in your life are the ones you didn't commit when you had the chance.
Treating the whole world
as if it works for you doesn't suggest you're special, it means you're an ass.
Foolish, ignorant people
indulge in careless lives, whereas a clever man guards his attention as his most
we hope someone else has the answer. Some other place will be better, it will
all turn out. No one else has the answer. No other place will be better, and it
has already turned out.
Do realize that it is not you who moves from dream to dream, but
the dreams flow before you, and you are the immutable witness. No happening affects
your real being - that is the absolute truth.
seem to two kinds of searchers: those who seek to make their ego something other
than it is, i.e. holy, happy, unselfish (as though you could make a fish unfish),
and those who understand that all such attempts are just gesticulation and play-acting,
that there is only one thing that can be done, which is to disidentify themselves
with the ego, by realising its unreality, and by becoming aware of their eternal
identity with pure being.
they say in India, you can't rip the skin off a snake, or you'll kill him, but
at the right time the snake sheds his skin. Our patterns, our stories, who we
experience ourselves to be - that's our skin.
without doing; work without effort.
is not enough. And love is not enough. And success is not enough. And, if we could
achieve it, enough would not be enough.
energies that keep us alive are joy, generosity, compassion, curiosity, truthfulness,
serenity, equanimity, wakefulness, one-pointedness, and impeccability-the qualities
of mind that Buddhist teaching sometimes calls paramitas, or perfections, or sometimes
bojjhangas, the factors of enlightenment. They are qualities of awakened mind
as well as qualities that can be cultivated to aid awakening.
By observing mental states you
also become aware of the seven factors of enlightenment [awakening]. These are:
awareness of awareness, investigation of the Way, vigour, joy, serenity, concentration
are you unhappy?
can only be young once. But you can always be immature.
a comb life gives you after you lose your hair.
is the real secret of life: to be completely engaged with what you are doing in
the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.
we are not individuals who form relationships.
We are social animals, deeply interpenetrated with one another, who emerge out
This isn't a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money
and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence
when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge
of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully
creates peace like hate creates love.
need not carry the raft on one's head after crossing the stream.
Everything is projection
Nobody comes to see a therapist to get better; they really come
to perfect their neurosis.
Don't help your patients. Frustrate them. Push them back to their impasse where they have nowhere to turn. Make them push right through their impasse.
are meant to please the mind. They need not to be true. Reality is indefinable
nice thing is that when you stop waiting for the mind to stop doing what it does,
you start to realize it doesn't matter how long the mind does what it does. There's
still this direct taste, this sense of being. So waiting is unnecessary. It's
just another concept.
desire to find the self will be surely fulfilled, provided you want nothing else.
But you must be honest with yourself and really want nothing else. If in the meantime
you want many other things and are engaged in their pursuit, your main purpose
may be delayed until you grow wiser and cease being
What is a True Person?
Insight can't be found in sutras, commentaries, verbal expression,
or -isms. Liberation and awakened understanding can't be found by devoting ourselves
to the study of the Buddhist scriptures. This is like trying to find fresh water
in dry bones. Returning to the present moment, using our clear mind which exists
right here and now, we can be in touch with liberation and enlightenment, as well
as with the Buddha person who has nothing to do is sovereign unto herself. She
doesn't need to put on airs or leave any trace behind. The true person is an active
participant, engaged in her environment while remaining unoppressed by it. Although
all phenomena are going through the various appearances of birth, abiding, changing,
and dying, the true person doesn't become a victim of sadness, happiness, love,
or hate. She
Nothing has ever happened really.
a man can still the senses I call him illuminated.
greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell
what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think,
but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy,
and religion, all in one.
is an old saying among professional racetrack handicappers: The losing player
is the one who tells you he breaks even; the breakeven player is the one who tells
you he is a consistent winner; and the winning player is the one who tells you
it's a tough, tough game, with great dedication required for success.
People are afraid of
themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about
how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People
are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're
afraid to feel. Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But
they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength
in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters.
Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel
ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality. You
should stand up for the right to feel your pain.
...nobody can stand truth if it is told to him. Truth can be tolerated
only if you discover it yourself because then, the pride of discovery makes the
have one aim only: to impart a fraction of the meaning of the word now.
Our dependency makes slaves
out of us, especially if this dependency is a dependency of our self-esteem. If
you need encouragement, praise, pats on the back from everybody, then you make
everybody your judge.
people derive their identity from their past, which is their thoughts. If you
can derive your identity from consciousness itself, then you've transcended the
personal. If you can live your life in a way that the transcendent can shine through
it, through the personal realm into this world, then that is the fulfillment of
society is run by insane people for insane objectives
.I am liable to be
put away as insane for expressing that. That's what's insane about it.
Our schizophrenic patient
is actually experiencing inadvertently that same beatific ocean deep which the
may be a lunatic, but then, wasn't my lunacy caused by a monster that lurks at
the bottom of every human mind? Those who call me a madman and spurn me may become
lunatics tomorrow. They harbor the same monster.
time is of a different order than free-dom. Freedom, at least in the dharmic sense,
depends on the quality of attention that we bring to our interactions. Only to
the extent that we can be fully present in our relationships with ourselves, with
our children, and with each other, are we free.
experience of eternity right here and now is the function of life. Heaven is not
the place to have the experience; here is the place to have the experience.
Be still like a mountain
and flow like a great river.
can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is
wise by his questions.
is a fact of life. Impermanence is everywhere we look. We are all going to suffer
our losses. How we deal with these losses is what makes all the difference. For
it is not what happens to us that determines our character, our experience, our
karma, and our destiny, but how we relate to what happens.
Description is always from
someone's point of view and hence is always evaluative.
where the puck's going, not where it's been.
recognize the purity, depth and duration of this state.
If we do not change the course we are on,
we will end up where we are going.
you love something
If it comes back to you
If it doesn't
Even the sequence, `To whom has this thought come? To me,' is based on ignorance of the truth. Why? Because it is verbalizing a state of ignorance; it is perpetuating an erroneous assumption that there is a person who is having troublesome thoughts. You are the Self, not some make-believe person who is having thoughts.
you remain in the Self, as the Self, no harm can come to you. In that state, whatever
comes to you will not be a problem. There is no duality when you remain as the
Self; no thoughts about what you should or should not do, and no thoughts about
what can be done or what can't be done. The main thing is not to go out of the
Self. When you have switched on the light, darkness cannot come, not even if you
The Great Way is not difficult
What is love?
The mind is the root
of everything. In the Tibetan teachings, it is called kun je gyalpo, "the
king who is responsible for everything," or in modern translation, "the
universal ordering principle." Mind is the creator of happiness and the creator
of suffering, the creator of what we call samsara and the creator of what we call
nirvana. As Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche used to say, "Samsara is mind turned outwardly,
lost in its projections; nirvana is mind turned inwardly, recognizing its nature."
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.
things cannot be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the Truth.
The thing is not to stop
the mind, or to label thoughts as this or that, but to see it. To allow what arises
to arise without attachment to ideas of it needing to be otherwise (which typically
presents as a grasping or rejection).
mind covers up reality, without knowing it. To know the nature of the mind, you
need intelligence, the capacity to look at the mind in silent and dispassionate
fundamental delusion of human beings is the belief that we exist separately and
independently from the rest of the universe.
is only one decision you need to make-either you're working at your freedom or
accepting your bondage.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions corrupted by our
is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is the result of experience. Experience
is the result of bad judgment.
The opportunity life ever provides is to transform all future tripping 'what if' statements into the inherently powerful, captivating and charismatic "what is' that the mind has no defense for.
one ever becomes a buddha.
cause of suffering is delusion: our inability, because of a subtly willful blindness,
to see things the way they truly are but instead in a distorted way. The world
is in fact a seamless and dynamic unity: a single living organism that is constantly
undergoing change. our minds, however, chop it up into separate, static bits and
pieces, which we then try mentally and physically to manipulate. One of the mind's
most dear creations is the idea of the person and, closest to home, of a very
special person which each one of us calls "I": a separate, enduring
ego or self. In a moment, then, the seamless universe is cut in two. There is
"I" -- and there is all the rest. That means conflict -- and pain, for
"I" cannot control that fathomless vastness against which it is set.
It will try, of course, as a flea might pit itself against an elephant, but it
is a vain enterprise.
is the first step in healing.
those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
If we were to make a list
of people we don't like-people we find obnoxious, threatening, or worthy of contempt-we
would find out a lot about those aspects of ourselves that we can't face. If we
were to come up with one word about each of the troublemakers in our lives, we
would find ourselves with a list of descriptions of our own rejected qualities,
which we project onto the outside world. The people who repel us unwittingly show
us the aspects of ourselves that we find unacceptable, which otherwise we can't
see. They mirror us and give us the chance to befriend all of that ancient stuff
that we carry around like a backpack full of granite boulders.
you can accept the universe as being something expanding into an infinite nothing
which is something, wearing stripes with plaid is easy.
you don't wash out the stone and sand, how can you pick out the gold?
When you are content to be simply
yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you.
is the ultimate sophistication.
a deed to be totally pure, it must be done without any thought of reward, whether
worldly or divine.
greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they
love them while they're still alive.
it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates,
and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure
and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
To tell the truth
is to say the way things are, and the way things aren't. To tell the truth is
also to say what happened. And when I say to tell the truth is also to say what
happened, I mean all we want are the facts, ma'am (as Detective Sergeant Joe Friday
may have said), just the facts. Everything else is just commentary. What I believe
about the truth is just commentary. Whatever opinion I have about the truth is
just commentary. Whether I agree with or disagree with the truth is just commentary.
Whether I like or dislike the truth is just commentary. Whether I think the truth
is fair or unfair is just commentary. To tell the truth is to say what's so with
nothing added, with nothing taken away, with no background soundtrack commentary,
with no belief, with no opinion, with no agreement or disagreement, with no leaning
to what I like or don't like or what I think is fair or unfair.
Zen is not a particular
state but the normal state: silent, peaceful, unagitated. In Zen practice neither
intention, analysis, specific effort nor imagination take place. It's enough just
to be without hypocrisy, dogmatism, arrogance -- embracing all opposites.
form [of practice] is best really depends on the person and the time-for some
the carrot, for some the stick. The Buddha talked about this. He gave an image
of training a horse. For some horses, just the shadow of the whip is enough; for
others a slight touch spurs them on; and others really need to be whacked, metaphorically
speaking.-Joseph Goldstein*The moon and sun were not yet known in the world. Hence
the forms of the stars were not known, nor the paths of the constellations, nor
day and night, nor months and fortnights, nor seasons and years. That, monks,
is the appropriate condition of those beings who are self-luminous, move through
space, are made of mind, feed on joy, abide in a state of bliss, and go wherever
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