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Excerpted from Teach Only Love by Gerald Jampolsky. Copyright 2000 by Gerald Jampolsky. Excerpted by permission of Beyond Words Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 

"When a person is concerned only with giving, there is no anxiety."

  Jerry Jampolsky, Teach Only Love, Part 2

With this attitude, I not only felt unloved but unworthy of love. I was unworthy because I felt guilty of some unnamed sin. And because of my fear that my sin would be punished, I believed I had to sacrifice love in order to ward off punishment. One does not need religious training to believe he or she has to suffer.

Most of us feel very alone in the particular way we make. mistakes. We think our guilt is private. I thought I owned the biggest stockpile of guilt in the world, and consequently, calamity seemed always to lurk just around the corner. Life was an outside force against which my own wits and energies were pitted. Living, in the true sense of the word--with zest, peace, joy, and harmony--seemed possible only for others. Wearing a mask myself, I believed what other people's masks communicated: They could be happy; I could not.

This general attitude resulted in existing but not living. More often than not, I confused happiness with pain, for I only felt alive when I was in the midst of a crisis. Therefore, I precipitated crisis after crisis. Since happiness itself seemed out of reach, this was the only way I knew to experience life. And as these adversities kept assaulting me, this approach seemed more and more a simple necessity. After all, I was merely a victim.

For much of my life, I believed that this outlook came to me naturally. Because of the genes I had received from my parents and the environment in which I grew up, I had become, through no choice of my own, fearful and guilt-ridden. It did not occur to me that the choice between love and fear was mine to make instant by instant. There are many people who came from surroundings much worse than mine who have chosen not to get stuck in their pasts. I chose to buy into my parents' philosophy and accept the limitations of my environment.

It is now clear to me that each one of us determines the beliefs by which we live. We think we must identify with our past, but this is not so. There is an alternative. The world is not held together by our worrying about it. We can lead a life that is free of fear. Just as I am, you are the determiner of everything that happens to you. This fact should not make us feel guilty; it should instead provide freedom to be at peace.

This was made evident to me during my third month of internship. As part of the Navy's V-12 unit, I was sent to Stanford University Medical School and was released from the Navy a year later to continue my medical education. In medical school, nearly a third of the class experiences symptoms of whatever disease is being studied. Some even come down with it. I was especially afraid of tuberculosis and was convinced I would eventually contract it and die. As it turned out, during my intern year, one of my assignments was to. the tuberculosis ward. I had a recurring fantasy that I would take one deep breath in the morning and not breathe for the rest of the day.

One night, I was called on ward emergency for a fifty-year-old alcoholic who had tuberculosis and cirrhosis of the liver. She was bleeding from her esophagus, had vomited blood, and was in shock. Her pulse was feeble and her blood pressure was not measurable. I siphoned the blood from her throat and gave her cardiac massage. That night something was wrong with the oxygen machine, so I had to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to which she responded favorably.

When I returned to my quarters and looked at myself in the mirror, my green surgical gown was a bloody mess. Suddenly, it occurred to me that not once during that hectic hour had I been afraid. It was a powerful lesson to realize that when I focused only on helping, I had no fear. There were other times during my assignment to that ward, when I would evaluate what I was getting or not getting, that I was immobilized with fear. The lesson was clear. When a person is concerned only with giving, there is no anxiety. Later in life, I discovered that often there is also no pain or sense of limitation.

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