Imagine you are going through a rough time. Something has happened and it’s out of your control. It’s having a big impact on your life and you are struggling.
Perhaps you were at a social gathering and participating in a discussion when a heated debate broke out. You were unusually angry towards one of your dearest friends. They were deeply hurt by the angry words and have subsequently closed off from you.
Another scenario might be that your partner did something out of the ordinary that really upset you. You were so surprised by the behaviour that in that moment, you were unable to discuss the issue with them. You wanted to reflect on it a little more before addressing it.
Or it may be that you had an unexpected financial loss. As a result, your home is now at risk, or it could impact your family’s welfare in some significant way. You don’t know what to do about it.
In any of these situations, what would it be like if you confided in someone close to you and were met with judgement? Or in this moment of vulnerability they gave you strong advice that didn’t resonate with you or was completely left-field? It may be that you’re feeling even more confused and vulnerable than when you first sought out a confidante.
It can be very upsetting when a friend responds in a way that is unsupportive. It’s even worse when a professional advisor, therapist or practitioner offers you a similar prescription.
What is it that we really want when we go to another for support? Whether it’s a one-off incident or an ongoing issue, pattern or trauma that you’re facing, it’s likely to differ from person to person, at least on the surface.
The True Friend
Regardless of circumstance, field of expertise or the type of relationship, the role of a ‘True Friend’ as described by Eli Jaxon-Bear in his new book The Awakened Guide is an effective way of relating.
He explains, ‘A True Friend holds no position for or against, does not agree or disagree. A True Friend is not full of answers and is not ignorant. In having no position, a True Friend can be an ally and a truth teller.’
As can be the case when confiding in a friend or family member, Jaxon-Bear continues, ‘Very often in therapy, the therapist is involved in the story and gives the client advice about how to change the story.
‘The therapist is the one who has the answers, who has the power and insight about how to do it better. This book is not teaching that way. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. The only thing the therapist does is give the client permission to discover the wisdom already inside.
‘Your job as a True Friend is to serve as the space for the other to discover that they have all the resources they need. They can do their own work. Everyone is already inherent wisdom. Innate wisdom lives in the heart of every being. It doesn’t need anything except permission to do its own work.’
The benefits of being a True Friend are described in The Awakened Guide foreword by Dr Murray Korngold (1920-2017), founder of Los Angeles Society of Clinical Psychologists, former clinical psychologist and American war veteran.
‘In the West, those who are troubled by inner torment or are searching for fulfillment have long been conditioned and burdened, in their search for relief, by psychological concepts dating from Freud, Jung, and Adler,’ he writes.
‘I find Eli Jaxon-Bear’s work particularly relevant because I was personally involved in the psychological revolution starting in the late nineteen forties after World War II, when the psychology departments of colleges from coast to coast were flooded by returning GIs, like myself, who mostly rejected drive-directed or habit-directed personality theories in search of a deeper humanism.
‘While speaking the language of Freud, we were largely drawn and excited by what we thought of at that time as the third force, a new approach. In their pioneering work, the non-directivists became the ‘True Friends’ of their therapy clients,’ writes Dr Korngold.
‘Most therapies are aimed at producing clients who are empowered to be someone special (while fulfilling desires), and to be someone inflated, self-important, and confident that the world is there for the taking. We have found over the decades that this does not lead to true happiness or fulfillment.’
So, what does lead to happiness?
Hampton Road Publishing wrote of Jaxon-Bear’s book Sudden Awakening, ‘True happiness and meaning are achieved, he asserts, when we wake up, stop our minds, and open our hearts. It is then that we discover our true selves; our core identity that is part of the ultimate living intelligence of the universe; our true source.
‘Like Gangaji, Jaxon-Bear uses a method of self-investigation called “self-inquiry”.
‘In the light of direct self-inquiry, limitations that once seemed to define ourselves are discovered to be more like transparent lines drawn on water. They exist only on the surface of consciousness in one’s imagination. When these illusions of mind are clearly exposed, true limitless being reveals itself.”
In the chapter of The Awakened Guide titled The New Wave, Dr Joseph Yigal, consulting Psychologist of the Leela School, Doctor of Philosophy and Masters of Arts writes, ‘Eli Jaxon-Bear has described this radical stance as follows:
‘Being a True Friend in our context is the ability to be with someone with an open heart and a silent mind in order to receive them without anything going on internally: no judgment, no desire to help or fix, not needing anything back, like love or recognition or support.
‘In this way the person in need can be in a completely safe space and receive a true reflection of themselves in a moment of openness, silence, and love.’
Listen without judging
Donald Liebenson interviews Jaxon-Bear in the Kirkus Review where the latter defines a True Friend as someone with the willingness, ‘to give up your personal views, opinions, and rights and wrongs for that period of time when you can be open and quiet and hear someone else without judging, comparing, or reflecting.
‘It is so rare in our world, but anybody can do that.’
Eli Jaxon-Bear founded the ‘Leela School of Awakening’ so that anybody can discover and deepen in what it is to be a True Friend to themselves and to the world.
The training is heart-based and so whether or not students want to become certified True Friends, they can find immense personal value through the insights into their true nature and the nature of suffering revealed in these courses.
The school is committed to the whole world waking up from the personal trance of suffering. That is the overview and purpose – to make a difference one heart and one mind at a time.
If you would like to learn more about being a True Friend, please visit www.leelaschool.org
You can find out more about the activities of the Leela Foundation and the Leela School locally and abroad here.
Note: Eli Jaxon-Bear is the author of The Awakened Guide, An Outlaw Makes It Home, Wake Up and Roar, Sudden Awakening, and Fixation to Freedom.
He has worked as a mailboy, dishwasher, steel-worker, teacher and organic farmer. He was a community organiser with VISTA in Chicago and Detroit before entering a doctoral program at the Graduate School of International Studies in Denver, Colorado. He has been living with his partner and wife, Gangaji, since 1976. They currently reside in Ashland, Oregon.
Eli meets people and teaches through the Leela Foundation.