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Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
Blogs about inhabiting this present moment

A Beautiful Mind Saying Goodbye to What Cannot Be True

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Updated: Jan 9th 2014

An Imagined, Adapted Story—Source Unknown

The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.
—Albert Einstein

wooden blocks spelling out egoA 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.

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.


Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician in private practice in Pleasanton, CA in the East San Francisco Bay area. Licensed as a psychologist in California since 1987 and in the field since 1976, he specializes in Presence-centered therapy principally with adults and couples. Presence-centered therapy is a conscious attuning to the richness of this present moment (sometimes called mindfulness or wakefulness) along with witnessing, that is, observing what the mind is up to now by looking from outside of it. His practice is centered upon inhabiting this present moment, witnessing and "buying out" of the ego-mind's unworkable patterns, desensitizing root emotional charges, and gaining effective tools to thrive in the world. He specializes in providing therapy for adults facing anxiety, significant stress, work issues, relationship challenges and depression as well as couples with marital issues, communication issues, self-defeating behavior, divorce mediation, co-parenting and pre-marital counseling. Core to his approach is installing, building and developing strong internal resources, an enhanced capacity to hold, bear and tolerate strong emotions, and highly adaptive tools to better thrive in the world.He can be reached directly through his website (featuring over 215 articles, 27 YouTube videos and pages upon pages of highly practical annotated resource links) or by email at . Dr. Friedman is available for business consulting, business training and executive coaching (detail on his home page).

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