(Dec. 7, 1965)
The prerequisites for therapy must include the following conditions:
1: The procedure must involve the recognition rather than the denial of the importance of thought.
2: The exact equality of everyone who is involved. This must include Me.
3: No one is either therapist or patient. (B. should add “teacher or pupil.”)
4: Above all EVERYONE involved must want to give up everything that is NOT true. The reason for the negative emphasis here is that therapy implies something HAS gone wrong. Even though the purpose is to correct, those who are ill ARE negative.
5: Therapy is EXACTLY the same as all other forms of miracle-working. It has no separate laws of its own. All of the points that were given for miracles apply to therapy because, UNLESS therapy proceeds from miracle-mindedness, it CANNOT heal.
6: The therapist (hopefully) does have the role of being the better perceiver. (This is also, again hopefully, true of the teacher.) It does not follow that he is the better knower. Temporarily, the therapist or teacher can help in straightening out twisted perceptions, which is also the only role that I would ever contribute myself. All therapy should do is try to place EVERYONE involved in the right frame of mind to help one another. It is essentially a process of true courtesy, including courtesy to Me.
Any form of mental illness can truthfully be described as an expression of viciousness. We said before that those who are afraid are apt to be vicious. If we were willing to forgive other people’s misperceptions of us, they could not possibly affect us at all. There is little doubt that you can explain your present absolutes attitudes in terms of how people used to look at you, but there is no wisdom in doing so. In fact, the whole historical approach can justifiably be called doubtful.
As you have so often said, no one has adopted ALL of his parents’ attitudes as his own. In every case, there has been a long process of choice, in which the individual has escaped from those he himself vetoed, while retaining those he voted FOR. B. has not retained his parents political beliefs, in spite of the particular kind of newspapers that constituted their own reading matter in this area. The reason why he could do this was because he believed he was free in this area.
There must be some acute problem OF HIS OWN that would make him so eager to accept their misperception of his own worth. This tendency can always be regarded as punitive. It cannot be justified by the inequality of the strengths of parents and children. This is never more than temporary, and is largely a matter of maturational and thus physical difference. It does not last unless it is held onto.
When B’s father came to his new office and “destroyed” it, it is quite apparent that B. MUST have been willing to let it be destroyed. The many times that he has commented on this event alone would suggest that the extreme importance of this misrepresentation in his own distorted thinking. Why should anyone accord an obvious misperception so much power? There cannot be any real justification for it, because even B. himself recognized the real problem by saying “How could he do this to me?” The answer is HE didn’t.
B. has a very serious question to ask himself in this connection. We said before that the purpose of the Resurrection was to “demonstrate that no amount of misperception has any influence at all on a Son of God.” This demonstration EXONERATES those who misperceive, by establishing beyond doubt that they have NOT hurt anyone. B’s question, which he must ask himself very honestly, is whether he is willing to demonstrate that his parents have NOT hurt him. Unless he is willing to do this, he has not forgiven them.
The essential goal of therapy is the same as that of knowledge. No one can survive independently as long as he is willing to see himself through the eyes of others. This will always put him in a position where he MUST see himself in different lights. Parents do not create the image of their children, though they may perceive images which they do create. However, as we have already said, you are not an image. If you SIDE WITH image-makers, you are merely being idolatrous.
B. has no justification whatever for perpetuating ANY image of himself at all. He is NOT an image. Whatever is true of him is wholly benign. It is essential that he KNOW this about himself, but he cannot know it while he chooses to interpret himself as vulnerable enough to BE hurt. This is a peculiar kind of arrogance, whose narcissistic component is perfectly obvious. It endows the perceiver with sufficient unreal strength to make him over, and then acknowledges the perceiver’s miscreation. There are times when this strange lack of real courtesy appears to be a form of humility. Actually, it is never more than simple spite.
Bill, your parents did misperceive you in many ways, but their ability to perceive was quite warped, and their misperceptions stood in the way of their own knowledge. There is no reason why it should stand in the way of yours. It is still true that you believe they DID something to you. This belief is extremely dangerous to your perception, and wholly destructive of your knowledge. This is not only true of your attitudes toward your parents, but also of your misuse of your friends. You still think that you MUST respond to their errors AS IF they were true. By reacting self-destructively, you are GIVING them approval for their misperceptions.
No one has the right to change himself according to different circumstances. Only his actions are capable of appropriate variation. His belief in himself is a constant, unless it rests on perceptual acuity rather than knowledge of what he is.
It is your DUTY to establish beyond doubt that you are totally unwilling to side with (identify with) anyone’s misperceptions of you, including your own. If you become concerned with totally irrelevant factors, such as the physical condition of the classroom, the number of students, the hour of the course, and the many elements which you may choose to select for emphasis as a basis for misperception, you have lost the knowledge of what ANY interpersonal relationship is for. It is NOT true that the difference between pupil and teacher is lasting. They meet IN ORDER to abolish the difference. At the beginning, since we are still in time, they come together on the basis of inequality of ability and experience. The aim of the teacher is to give them more of what is temporarily his. This process has all of the miracle conditions we referred to at the beginning. The teacher (or miracle worker) gives more to those who have less, bringing them closer to equality with him, at the same time gaining for himself.
The confusion here is only because they do not gain the same things, because they do not NEED the same things. If they did, their respective, though temporary roles would not be conducive to mutual profit. Freedom from fear can be achieved by BOTH teacher and pupil ONLY if they do not compare either their needs or their positions in regard to each other in terms of higher and lower.
Presumably, children must learn from parents. What parents learn from children is merely of a different order. Ultimately, there is no difference in order, but this involves only knowledge. Neither parents nor children can be said to HAVE knowledge, or their relationships would not exist AS IF they were on different levels. The same is true of the teacher and the pupil. Children have an authority problem ONLY if they believe that their image is influenced BY the authority. This is an act of will on their part, because they are electing to misperceive the authority and GIVE him this power.
A TEACHER with an authority problem is merely a pupil who refuses to teach others. He wants to maintain HIMSELF in a position where he can be misused and misperceived. This makes him resentful of teaching, because of what he insists has done to him.
The only was out of this particular aspect of the desert is still to leave. The way this is left is to release EVERYONE involved, by ABSOLUTELY REFUSING to engage in any form of honoring error. Neither teacher nor pupil is imprisoned by learning unless he uses it as an attack. If he does this, he will be imprisoned whether he actually teaches or learns, or refuses to engaged in the process at all.
The role of a teacher, properly conceived, is one of leading himself and others out of the desert. The value of this role can hardly be underestimated, if only because it was one to which I very gladly dedicated my own life. I have repeatedly asked MY pupils to follow me. This means that, to be effective teachers, they MUST interpret teaching as I do. I have made EVERY effort to teach you ENTIRELY without fear. If you do not listen, you will be unable to avoid the VERY obvious error of perceiving teaching as a threat.
It is hardly necessary to say that teaching is a process whose purpose is to produce learning. The ultimate purpose of ALL learning is to abolish fear. This is necessary so that knowledge can happen. The role of the teacher is NOT the role of God. This confusion is all too frequently made, by parents, teachers, therapists, and the clergy. It is a real misunderstanding of both God and His miracles. Any teacher who believes that teaching is fearful CANNOT learn because he is paralyzed. He also cannot really teach. B. was quite right in maintaining that this course is a prerequisite for his. However, he was really saying much more than that. The purpose of this course IS to prepare you for knowledge. So is the only real purpose of any legitimate course. All that is required of you as a teacher is to follow Me.
Whenever anyone decides that he can function only in SOME roles but not in others, he cannot BUT be attempting to make a compromise which will not work. If B. is under the misbelief that he is coping with the fear problem by functioning as an administrator and as a teacher of interns, but NOT as a teacher of students, he is merely deceiving himself. He owes himself greater respect. There is nothing as tragic as the attempt to deceive one’s self, because it implies that you perceive yourself as so unworthy that deception is more fitting for you than truth. Either you can function in all of the roles you have properly undertaken to fill, or you cannot function effectively in any of them. This IS an all or none decision. You CANNOT make inappropriate level distinctions within this choice. You are either capable or not. This does not mean that you can DO everything, but it does DOES mean that you are either totally miracle-minded or not. This decision is open to NO compromise whatever. When B. says that he cannot teach, he is making the same mistake that we spoke of before, when he acted as if universal laws applied to everyone except him. This is not only arrogant, but patently untrue. Universal laws must apply to him, unless he does not exist. We will not bother to argue about this.