The Path to No Path

The Desire for Growth

The path of personal growth is paved with good intentions:

I feel unloved, and I think that if only I were a better person, I would be more lovable, and if I become lovable enough, someone will surely love me eventually.

I believe I feel deep love inside me, but I don't know how to express it.

I know that my behaviour is often not at all conducive to people loving me, but I feel unable to change it without help.

I feel deeply unhappy, and wish to unburden myself of my unhappiness.

I want to learn how to control my anger, how to cope with my depression, how to get rid of my bad moods.

I feel that I have no idea how to relate to people, and I think that the path of personal growth will help me in this respect.

Or I just want to be able to express my creativity.

Such a list can go on and on, and who is to say that any of these intentions is not honourable? Indeed, the path of personal growth can help one achieve all these aims, and many more.

One can certainly become a very much 'better' person, more alive, more open, more understanding, more compassionate, more loving. It is a path I can wholeheartedly recommend, up to a point.

The catch is that, as the therapists themselves say, this growth process continues through your whole life, and it is a catch that I have seen many people caught in. To me, the aim of 'growth' is not merely to make one a better person. The aim is surely more than that.

I have heard Paul Lowe say that one's aim should be happiness. By this, I am sure that he means not merely the feeling of relief that things are going OK right now, but rather a deep contentment with life, no matter what it brings.

I see the ultimate aim as one of freedom, where one responds authentically to each and every moment, where one puts no limits on oneself, where one does not define oneself in any terms whatsoever.

In fact the word ‘freedom' is misleading, for it suggests the possibility of choice, whereas when one is being fully authentic, one paradoxically has no freedom to choose what to do or how to be – one just is.

Now, all therapy is based on the premiss of 'me', 'me' as a person, 'me' as a human being, 'me' as someone who relates, and this 'me' is just 'my personality'. Here is a limit on freedom. If I choose to remain on the path of therapy, I thereby choose to keep limits on myself.

Contrary to what the therapists say, there is an end to therapy. The ending of therapy happens when you, one glorious day, see for yourself the reality of the previous paragraph, when you see it as an absolutely incontrovertible fact. Then, the pursuit of therapy drops of its own accord. New vistas open up. The path moves on, but it is no longer the path of therapy.

The new path is the path in search of peace. The world of human relationships is no longer a problem – by this time, you have already learned what you wanted to learn, you have enough skills to be getting by with. From now on, you will surely continue to learn about relating to others, or to yourself, but this is no longer your primary concern.

The moment you truly let go of the idea of working on yourself, you open up the possibility for tremendous peace to descend. Yet this peace can not yet last long; you will find yourself trying to grasp hold of it, whereupon it will disappear. Now, you are firmly on the path of meditation, an inner exploration of the workings of the mind, seen now as a complex mechanism rather than as your very being.

I believe that it was Paul Brunton who described the first path, the one I describe as the path of therapy, as the 'long path', and, if I remember correctly, he said that you can travel this path indefinitely and never reach its end. (It has been said that in psychoanalysis, the 'path' ends when your bank account is empty.)

I believe that Brunton called the path of meditation the 'short path', on which, if you work diligently, you will eventually come to the end. At the end of the 'short path', you will find the 'pathless path', a path which is not a journey, for there is no destination, and on which there is no traveller.

There is no path, nowhere to go to, and nobody travelling; the idea of 'doing' has lost its attraction. Perhaps now all that remains is to simply be.

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If you should wish to contact me about anything you have read here, especially if you feel strongly for or against what you have read, or if you feel that something is missing, I offer you an opportunity to share.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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