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Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated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)
Gandhi MomentsYour Flip-Flop and Eating Sugar
Actual or Apocryphal Healing Stories That Reveal Integrity
Adapted and Retold by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Every so often you can inadvertently come across a real
gem, sometimes even two. Here are two remarkable gems that portray both integrity
and character. Whether apocryphal or factual, consider this story:
In the swirl of impassioned activity of freeing his native India from the irons of imperialism, Mahatma Gandhi was embroiled in a constant stream of non-violent civil disobedience and social activism. An astute reporter who had been covering Gandhi for over a year thought he heard a blatant contradiction in what Gandhi spoke at his regular press conference from just the previous week. Checking back on his meticulous notes, he discovered his memory had served him well.
Thinking he had a hot news story, when the time came for questions the reporter raised his hand with some obvious urgency and was called upon by Gandhi saying, "Yes, what is it?"
The reporter firmly stated, "Sir, you just stated your view that completely contradicts what you said just one week ago." At this point the reporter directly quoted Gandhi from the previous news conference. The reporter briskly continued, "How do you explain your flip-flop on this issue?"
Gandhi, who had remained serene throughout this, paused and slightly grinned. After a silence in which all the reporters gathered were poised on the edge of their seats, also thinking they had caught Gandhi in an embarrassing bind, Gandhi quietly spoke, "My dear fellow, I learned something since last week. (pause) Next question please."
Further, consider this equally poignant story with similar origins:
During Mahatma Gandhi brief public life as a political activist, he was revered as almost a demi-god in his native India. It was during this period that a relatively young Indian woman along with her nine-year-old son showed great persistence in adamantly requesting a private audience with Gandhi. After repeated attempts, Gandhi finally acceded for a very brief audience.
woman and her young son presented themselves to Gandhi with the warmest
The woman forcefully said, "It's my son. He loves sugar and eats it all the time. His eating sugar is rotting his teeth and destroying his health. I know that only one word form you and it will be done."
Gandhi paused and thought a moment. He then told her, "Please come back in three days."
Not quite understanding the purpose of what he was saying, she agreed nonetheless. Three days later she and her son returned to visit Gandhi. At this second meeting, Gandhi took the son aside and had an interchange of words in getting to know him some. After a time though, Gandhi simply looked intently at the son with his fierce, powerful presence. After what seemed like an eternity, Gandhi finally spoke, "DON"T EAT SUGAR! IT'S POISON!"
The young boy was thunderstruck by these words. The woman also knew that something powerful had been transmitted. However she was also confused.
The woman replied, "Oh thank you so very much. However, if you will pardon me, I'm confused. How come you did not tell this to my son when we came the first time three days ago?"
Mahatma had a bit of a sly grin on his face as he answered, "My dear woman, I was eating sugar three days ago."
These two stories of Mahatma Gandhi, whether true or not, illustrate integrity and good character, most apropos for a "Mahatma" or "great soul." The ability to change your mind or your thinking given new data, a new perspective, or even a new day, is enough. In fact, no reasons, explanations or rationalizations are necessary for understanding our Consciousness here-and-now. Here is a portrait of an ordinary human being acting in an extraordinary way in regard to living and embodying integrity. If Gandhi couldn't acknowledge his not knowing, tolerate ambiguity and remain flexible and adaptive, how could he have entertained another way of seeing any given topic?
Similarly, to refrain from making any recommendation that you have not taken into your own life is again to have the restraint, patience and discipline to first express into life the principles and values by which you live BEFORE espousing the same to others. When there is a congruence of our vision, words and behavior, there is a wholly different timbre in our voice, the posture we hold our bodies, and a straighter clearer look in our eyes. The chance of a message actually landing is exponentially increased since on some level we feel and know the sincerity of the communicator.
When such a unity of consciousness is self-evident, it is not only charismatic and riveting, but further it is electrifying and powerful as a transformative moment in which there is a "stopping the world," as anthropologist Carlos Castaneda described it. In this timeless moment we are privileged to see what has not been seen, have revealed what has been hidden, and have light shone where there was only darkness. It is precisely in such outstanding moments that we reset our inner compass and our outer direction.
© Copyright 2009 William Cunningham.
Wills Perspective on Practicing Psychology: Dr.
Friedman's Practice | Dr.
Friedman's Approach | Therapeutic
Purposes | Credentials
| Experience | Brochures
| Interview | Events
and Workshops | Website Disclaimer