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 Blooming Stars

Human Situations – 2

            We are often placed in situations of not our own choosing. However, it is important that we deal with them safely and appropriately.

            Situation 2: About 13 years ago, a client/patient of mine expressed his desire to visit India when he learned about my going to India. He had never been outside of the USA. After considering carefully the ethical standards that govern doctor-patient relations, I decided that my patient could psychologically benefit from the trip. He had generalized anxiety disorder, had relationship problems, and fear of flying. He visited India with my family and enjoyed the trip. As I was planning to start ashrams in India, I closed my practice, and stopped seeing him as a patient. Over the years, we kept in touch, and sometimes he visited me in my home in the USA when I returned from India. During such a visit last year, he shared an experience that he had many years ago during his trip to India with me. He stated that he saw a naked lady with her two kids taking bath in a stream.

            The particular spot of the mountain stream running at the edge of the present ashram property near Munnar, where he saw the lady and her kids happens to be a public bathing place, where also persons in the locality crossed the stream. I was very surprised at what he said. I said very spontaneously: "I have hard time believing what you said". His unexpected strong response took me by surprise. He challenged me: "Are you saying I am lying? Are you calling me a liar? He looked very angrily at me and decided: "You are calling me a liar". Holding my ground and trying to tell him that I did not say he lied, but just that I had difficulty believing what he said in the Indian cultural context did not help the situation. He expected an apology from me. An apology would have been phony as I would have rendered it merely to appease him. As he continued to look daggers at me, I left his presence. After a few minutes I came to the conclusion that there was no chance of reconciliation that day, I came back and asked him to leave my home, and he obliged.

            He felt that I was attacking his integrity. Yet his perception of the scene and my difficulty in believing it could have stayed side by side for what they were. Two incompatible views need not have deteriorated into the verge of physical violence on the part of one tolerating different views. Good friendship allows freedom and safety in respectful and appropriate expression of any view. To agree to disagree in an agreeable way should form part of any human discourse to facilitate humanity's march toward unity of humanity.


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