Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician with experience working with adults, couples, families, adolescents and older children since 1976. His aim
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The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.
A Beautiful Mind, the book by Sylvia Nasar made into an award-winning movie by Ron Howard, depicted the life of John Nash, a mathematical genius that became psychotic. By “skillful means,” Nash observed several perceived imaginary “characters,” noticing that their very existence could not be real since “they” never aged. In this moment, Nash briefly awakens from his psychosis. Recognizing the insanity present is already a beginning of some sanity.
John Nash wisely decided to surrender the delusions; for it was improbable “they” would ever say good-bye to Nash. By so doing, John surprisingly took his life back, no longer being destructively ruled by a psychotic ego’s version of his life, although he was unable to fully illuminate their presence. The unreal, like the fictive ego and all it dreams up, does not easily leave; one must leave the delusions.
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John Nash was able to acknowledge the “characters” as unreal. In his realization, Nash transforms a psychotic life into a decidedly more functional one. “They” no longer matter. Nash is conscious of his insanity. His witnessing allowed a dis-identification with his sick ego that opened the door out of psychosis to a more functional, healthier life. Being out of the mind and its insanity is sanity indeed.
Everyone can apply John Nash’s wisdom-recognizing what was unworkable and having the courage to say goodbye to false ideas-without experiencing paranoid psychosis. Whatever is toxic for one-once seen for what it is and once the costs of reactivity and dysfunction are honestly acknowledged-presents the opportunity for its welcome release. The illusion of the personal ego will persist in creating suffering until it is seen, freed and outgrown. Fearful past conditioning may trigger the ego, but with progressively less charge, like knocking on a door and nobody answers.
Given moments of direct Presence and experiencing Original Nature, the delusion of the fictive self persists lifelong for most everyone. Just as John Nash’s delusions silently persisted in the background, the delusion of the separate ego is likely to persist as well. According to some sages, the illusion of the ego can sometimes fade through the continuing surrender of the false self, which can expand into Oneness and Divine grace.
At some point, without being aware, the illusory self may naturally fade and simply disappear. The ego sense of separation emerges less frequently, has less pull, and no longer feels so real. Through the grace of Awareness itself, the non-existent ego may go quiet and absent. Then the full emptiness and depthless silence is all that remains-Original Nature. Ego becomes insignificant, irrelevant and completely uninteresting.
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