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Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated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)
The Ascent to the Peak
An Adapted Teaching Tale by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
from his forthcoming book
is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves."
Jeannette considered herself a master of managing failure before she ever experienced much success. How many times had she returned to "the basics" and "the fundamentals" before learning anything. While others would complain and whine, Jeannette tenaciously proceeded through the challenges life presented. So it was with mountain climbing. Jeannette loved the challenge, the danger, and the magnificence of nature all around. She also learned the value of teamwork and being a dependable, responsible member of a climbing party.
In time, Jeannette came to be lauded as one of the world's outstanding female mountain climbers. She enjoyed the distinction, but her eyes were on her next achievement-the north face of K2 in Tibet. This particular approach to K2 had never been successfully scaled.
Jeannette assembled a top-notch party that trained for many months all in preparation for the ascent. Timing was critical. At last, the climbing party set off in excellent weather, climbing for several days before making a base camp. The next day, the mountaineers began the all-important second leg of their climb. It took two days to reach the great vertical ascent where Jeannette and her team established their second camp. All were jubilant about the prospects for a successful climb.
On the eighth day of the expedition, the climbers readied themselves for the final ascent on K2's north face. They studied and reviewed the plan until all knew exactly what to do.
The day of the climb to the summit arrived clear and sunny with only slight clouds in the distance. Up, up, up Jeannette and her party climbed. It was most difficult, yet all passed through the most demanding obstacles. When the growing mass of clouds approached from the south, some were concerned, but others wanted to push on. After listening to everyone's opinion, Jeannette decided to press forward for the peak. Although, in the past, she had always using good judgment and discernment, on this day she had a glaring blind spot.
The ascent party climbed to within one hundred feet of the summit when the weather took a turn for the worse. However Jeannette was determined to strive on to the summit on this day. She rejected the urgent advice to return to the second base camp to ride out the storm and scale the peak another day. She wanted the summit NOW!
Jeannette had taken leave of all sense, intuition and wisdom. She broke the cardinal law of mountain climbing-always proceed with a companion. Jeannette cut the safety line and pushed on ahead. Several in the party considered going after her, but with worsening conditions and approaching darkness, these members painfully relented. And so everyone in the rest of the party reluctantly returned to the second base camp.
Jeannette kept moving upward, although the icy winds and sporadic snow flurries became ever more ferocious. As she maneuvered around a rocky jut, a pinion slipped and she smashed into the mountain several times. Her nose bled and her arms and legs were badly bruised. Jeannette was able to pull up to a little patch of dirt and lean against a rock, but from that position she could not easily go up or down.
Jeannette now felt something almost unknown to herfear. It was a dreadful feeling, made worse by the growing darkness and piercing coldness that enveloped her entire body. Her extremities were numb. Jeannette was stuck, and the weather continued to worsen.
Desperate, she cried out to the heavens, "God HELP ME!" Once again, "Please, please, HELP ME!!" A long timeless time passed, although it seemed like only an instant when Jeannette heard a clear answer.
"All right," rang out a voice from nearby, "Let go, and I'll catch you."
Jeannette was in too much shock, too filled with fear and disbelief to fathom what this meant. So, she continued to pray unceasingly for help. Between gusts of freezing wind, she again heard the same clear voice, "LET GO, my child, and I'LL CATCH YOU."
Jeannette sat wonderstruck gazing into space. The silence between the whistling wind torrents filled her consciousness. At one point, gathering all of the remaining strength, she looked heavenward and in a soft, terrified voice called out, "Is there anyone else up there?" Being totally spent and brought to her knees, deep silence enveloped her.
In a moment of miraculous faith, Jeannette did let go and totally surrendered. A hidden ledge appeared out of nowhere. From there, Jeannette found her way to safety.
Once back to the second camp, Jeannette found she had a lot of explaining to do, but offered none. She reflected upon the broken trust and remained remarkably quiet, reflective and humble. She took the time to turn deep inside, linger in the silence and unveil the Self within. Eventually, with a degree of sincerity she had not shown before, she said, "I take complete responsibility for the poor choices and actions that jeopardized the well-being of the climbing party. I am willing to make all repairs necessary so this will never happen again. Further, I commit to not repeat such idiocy and to make the safety of each person the top priority." Everyone listened, felt relief and wondered whether Jeannette would live up to the words. It would take time and further endeavors for Jeannette's life conversion, wiser judgment and growth to be fully tested.
Most of this story is told from the unrelenting desire of the imposter self. When the protagonist finally relents in pain and despair, the breaking open of the compassionate heart is palpable. Difficult as it surely is, despair is to be embraced and transformed.
The shift from ego to soul is the shift from the resistance, reactivity, and attitude of "Good God, morning!" to the natural flowing gratitude of "Good morning, God." Pure peace and silence are revealed in its wake. Everything is one's own once one is willing to be needless and freely give it all away. The willingness to dispassionately witness is the portal to living inside Original Nature and the Beloved's world of timelessness, the calm joy embodying the certainty that everything is all right.
In the relative world of subjects and objects, the one great story of humankind is redemption that sparks a creative rebirth. Having fallen through poor choices, one comes back to a loving, contributive life. May the day dawn bright and clear when humanity breaks out of the chrysalis and creates a new species story and myth, blossoming into a full soul imbued with the divine qualities and sentiments. One can awaken to who one is as Original Nature as well as elaborate and embody Being in this world. In this spiritual movement, one inhabits timeless eternity and boundless infinity with the Divine.
In the Absolute realm of eternal timelessness and infinite possibility, the Truth is beyond all stories. Inhabiting the authentic liberated self, with both feet squarely in relative and Absolute reality, humankind can emerge as Being, Spirit, Oneness itself.
Everything is possible in the Love and Light of the Spirit, from which everyone comes and to which everyone returns. This journey on Earth, in this learning laboratory, focuses on what can be understood of the soul's development in the phenomenal world. Everyone of honest intent, once free to express the soul in Source's unconditional Love, can find peace within. True spirituality liberates everyone from fear, past conditioning and false imagining.
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
Wills Perspective on Practicing Psychology: Dr.
Friedman's Practice | Dr.
Friedman's Approach | Therapeutic
Purposes | Credentials
| Experience | Brochures
| Interview | Events
and Workshops | Website Disclaimer