My friend is perplexed.
Her mother is stuck in a perpetual loop of unhealthy eating, but won’t take advice.
What should she do?
Every time she goes to see her mother – and this has been a once-weekly ritual now, for the last 30 years – she complains about being overweight.
The weight issue has caused the mother great consternation; as well as making her unhappy; she is suffering (as a direct consequence) myriad confidence issues and health problems – not least of these, high blood pressure.
Unhappiness of course, is a slow and cruel death-song and high blood pressure can kill as quick as a cyanide tea if it is not checked, double quick.
The Sunday ritual is always the same; the mother complains about being overweight, or being ‘stuck’ – to use her own unique vernacular – my friend then proceeds (for the next two hours) to offer the obvious solutions: eat less, move more, get out, get inspired.
The mother listens – a squint of confusion in her eye – as though her daughter has just spoken to her in tongues: she then carries on as though nothing has happened, still stuck, she carries on as though nothing has been said.
A daughter enters her mother’s front room only to find her walking maniacally in circles.
She is looking for a door, unable to see a single opening in a room full of doors.
The daughter is saddened and tries to direct her: ‘here’s a door mum, and there’s a door mum, and look over there mum, another two doors.’
The mother looks in the direction of the many doors, but does not see any openings.
So many doors.
The trouble with the daughter is this:
She is awake (as they say in esoteric circles).
The issue with the mother is the opposite:
She is asleep.
The problem with the situation is clear:
What you see when you are awake is invisible to those that are asleep.
What is perplexing is not the fact that the daughter knows where the doors are and that the mother does not, rather it’s that the daughter is trying to show someone (her mother) that is not ready to see.
Perhaps – like the masses – the mother is afraid of help.
Perhaps – like the many – she likes being asleep.
Someone saying, “I’m stuck”, is entirely different from someone saying, “I am stuck, can you please help me?”
One of the difficult things about waking up is that, as well as seeing what we are doing wrong in our own life – the self-sabotage, the complicit conditioning, the invisible self-harm – we also see what other people are doing wrong in their lives.
And worse than this we can see that they don’t see.
In other words, we know more about them than they know about themselves.
And not only do we see that they don’t see, we also see that we can do little to help them.
Unless of course they specifically come to us asking for help.
Whilst we can change what we’re doing wrong, we can do little with the folly of others.
Whether people are living in dying-and-abused bodies, or working below their potential in menial jobs, or existing in caustic marriages doesn’t really matter: where they are is where they are, and where they are is fine, they are on their path, their own journey and we should not interfere with that trajectory, it has its own divine course that we are not privy to: we have no right to alter the lives of other people without their permission.
The prime directive is ‘a guiding principle that prohibits Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations.’
It suggests that everyone is evolving, and evolving at their own rate and in their own good time.
It insists that we do not play God and alter that evolution, by offering guidance that is beyond their capacity.
The current circumstance of these civilisations (or people) might seem primitive, alien or even violent to us, but where they are is a vital, developmental stage of their growth, a stage that cannot and should not be rushed or judged.
Every stage of evolution is important, and no stage can be skipped, no matter how incredulous that stage might appear to us, no matter much it might offend our sensibilities.
This might seem harsh, but if we offer help before being asked, we risk the danger of dragging people out of the chrysalis before they have developed their wings.
Being a caterpillar might not appear very attractive to the untrained eye, but to the seer, it is a beautiful and imperative stage of becoming a butterfly.
Certainly in my own life I did a lot of ugly-crawling before I found the Grace of flight.
If and when we are asked for help, we must still practice jurisprudence, we must gauge how much help to give and indeed if any help is called for at all, we must discern how much brevity to use, and how much honesty someone is ready to hear.
There is a very fine line between waking someone up, and sending them into a psychosis.
Certainly we should not be waking someone up before their time.
So my friend is perplexed.
Her mother is stuck in a perpetual loop, she will not take advice.
What should she do?
Perhaps she should recognise first of all that her mother is not asking for advice, and if she is, after 30 years of not taking it, she should read the signs and stop offering.
She should turn up on a Sunday as usual, and do the one thing she can do and do well: love her mum unconditionally.
Love her, and accept where she is without trying to change her.
When her mum is ready to change – in her own time – her mother will change: then, any advice she offers will find fertile ground.
When you wake up, you automatically become aware of just how many people are ‘stuck’, how many people are asleep or walking in circles, looking for doors that they do not want to find, doors that they are terrified of finding.
Being lost is a delicious place to hide.
You have to be very careful about showing people how to become free of their shadows, especially when they are actively seeking the opposite: Escape From Freedom: people will attack you for even suggesting that their world of circles is but a shadow of true reality.
In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave – where shadows cast on the wall of a cave are mistaken by the inhabitants for reality – Socrates warns that ‘prisoners, if they were able, would reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.’
As a man that has been awake for a while now, I have developed the ability to observe other people and the realities they create without feeling the need to judge or change them.
Objective observation is the greatest education.
Although I can’t change other people (because they have not asked/because they are not ready) I can change myself.
And when I change myself, the trajectory of my change will leave definite tracks for others that follow.
Some might follow.