Commitment To Yourself

I was restless when I arrived for the final visit of the year. I had expected to conclude my blog in October (this is the final entry), but the timing of our previous get-together had offered an acceptable extension into November, which then crept almost unnoticed into December. I had also lost a little of the clarity and enthusiasm which had accompanied me the last time I saw him. I wondered whether we would be able to create something as special as the previous four visits. And I wondered whether our plans to collaborate in the future were as solid as they have felt all year. He told me later that he’d had his doubts too.

On the bus from the airport, I felt tired and run down, and thought that maybe we’d done all our talking for this year. I was here to support him during a particularly difficult week and to finish writing my book, so maybe that was enough. I was wrong. As soon as I entered the kitchen area, where all our conversations take place, I felt at home. I began to relax, and that same evening came the breakthrough of all breakthroughs. But not for me this time. This was Karaj’s moment.

We had talked all day, and in the evening our attention turned to the serious issue he has been facing all year. He left me alone for half an hour to go through the official documentation he received last week, relating to a hearing we would be attending four days later. As I read, I had only one thought: he has made things difficult for himself by appearing manipulative and deceitful; precisely the traits about which I had written back in 2003. He was being portrayed as a liar.

Although I could understand the document’s sentiment because I have also experienced it with him, I was reluctant to say anything about it. My reluctance stemmed from the fact that I have raised the subject before and he has always explained it away in terms of transactions and interventions, or through philosophical discourse. So I said nothing. In the silence which followed, he asked me for my feelings regarding what I’d just read. I remained quiet, wondering on the inside whether I would ever have a more appropriate opportunity to raise it. He asked me again. His commitment to himself was clear. He was not going to let go until I had shared my feelings, irrespective of their content.

That commitment is the same defining characteristic I have witnessed for as long as I have known him, and in this way he was challenging me to be completely open with him. I had no choice, because the quality of the work I do hinges on my ability and willingness to be totally open and straight. He had check-mated me, putting me in a position in which I was compelled to uphold the authenticity of my work, rather than follow the familiar pattern of accepting his behaviour. But still I hesitated. After the third invitation, I told him, even though I knew how he’d react: instantly and with persuasive argument. But for whatever reason, this time turned out to be different.

In his response to my challenge he spoke about a related event from my last visit. We had been discussing the same predicament, the severity of which could have damaging implications for him. During that conversation in November, after I had read aloud from another official document, he had made a simple statement: ‘I can’t defend this.’ His declaration reminded me of an interview I’d heard a few days previously about the dilemmas of an innocent man. When I played it to him his demeanour lightened, the heaviness of the occasion evaporated, and he expressed his deep gratitude for my contribution.

This week, however, when he recounted those events, he claimed it was I who had made the declaration. Somehow, even though it was little more than a month ago, he had managed to turn everything around. Now I knew I had him. He’d just given me a pristine example of exactly what I was talking about. ‘He doesn’t even realise he’s got it wrong’, I thought to myself. I remained calm and focused, allowed him to finish what he was saying, and awaited my inevitable opportunity. When I raised it with him, he contradicted himself. I now had two examples. Irrefutable ones, as well. I knew I was on solid ground and I knew this was big.

(As I write, I wonder how things might have turned out had I been able to deal with this issue 11 years ago, rather than walking out. But then that’s an irrelevant thought because things are as they are.)

In this moment Karaj had no alternative but to listen to me. I was on the firmest footing I could wish for, and my argumentative side, honed over the years in numerous discussions with those whom I considered ignorant or misguided, took over effortlessly. I explained that not only was his account the wrong way round, but when I had challenged him on it, he’d managed to deny one small detail of what he’d just said. The detail itself was immaterial, but the denial served to shackle him to the same corner into which he’d painted himself seconds earlier.

Undeterred, he came at me with the next explanation – a familiar habit of his – exerting his strength of character, experience and intelligence in ways which leave people satisfied that he knows what he’s doing. He explained how he had only meant to acknowledge my part in the original intervention. This is something I know he does and I have learnt to do the same because it conveys an appreciation of people’s presence and contribution. It’s a good habit to get into, but this time it was his undoing. In seeking to acknowledge others, he glosses over, ignores and even discounts his own ability. And by trying too hard to do this – because anything else is ego-based – his account of a situation or a conversation differs from the truth, making people suspicious. I told him what he has told me so often in the past: ‘You need to see your brilliance.

We talked for another two hours and then again the following morning. He was angry. Angry at the figures of authority from his past, all of who had been able to make the same intervention but hadn’t. His anger arose from a conviction that he could have sorted this out years ago, had he known what the problem was. I agreed with him on this last point because I have seen how committed he is to sorting himself out. We talked it through, and when a call came regarding the very issue which had facilitated this breakthrough, he put his learning into practice straight away, acknowledging how he must have come across in previous meetings.

As the days passed, the insights continued, accompanied by a relief that he can now see what he does; what he has always done. There was also the simplicity of it: one intervention has the power to unblock an entire existence. It felt to me as though a dam had burst. He has struggled with this his whole life and now that particular struggle was over. When I shared my thoughts with him, he replied that the same is true for me. For years I have been carrying this with me. 11 years ago I wrote about it. Two months ago I explained it. And this week I addressed it. Maybe now there will be no stopping us.

This whole breakthrough only happened because of our respective commitment to ourselves. The discussions which followed and the resulting insights for both of us have left us in no doubt that we will work together. In his feedback to me, Karaj conveyed his appreciation for what I have learnt and put into practice as a result of my regard for my own development: ‘Your commitment to yourself is total and it shows your hard work. You had plenty of opportunities to give up but you didn’t, and you have managed to make the biggest contribution to me; one which my teachers and carers never did.’ After all the years during which he has contributed so significantly to me, I felt privileged to have been able to do the same for him.

Three days later, the insights were still coming. We sat until the early hours, reflecting on the events of that first evening and what it means for him. He has always been labelled as rebellious, but now he sees that it was more to do with desperation. He was desperate for answers, but no-one seemed willing or able to give him what he needed. (Some came close but didn’t go far enough.) All his life he has been searching, and this week he made a discovery which has already changed his life. He feels released. As he talked, it seemed as though his past and future can now be viewed in a completely different light. His entire life makes more sense to him now.

The work is never over and no matter how hard you endeavour, it’s nothing without a commitment to yourself. It’s one thing to know how it all works, but it’s another thing completely to work diligently on yourself, day after day, especially during those times when nothing seems to be happening. But if we strive to discover who we really are and what is preventing us from the true expression of our real self, we are able to make ever-greater contributions to those around us, whilst all the time ensuring our continued evolution. It’s not always easy, but it is always simple.

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