I love the different meanings of the word “therapy.” Its Greek root, therapeuein, shows the Socratic approach to educating a human being. Therapeuein means: accompanying the other, taking him seriously, listening to him patiently, helping him to understand, and above all, bowing down in reverence to the other person’s godliness. How come all Western psychotherapy and education seem oblivious to their cultural roots? Instead, they keep circling in the thin air of deductive analysis and proven symptoms.
Please speak about your vision of spiritual therapy as a means of showing people the beauty of their independence and aloneness, the lovingness of their very being.
It is one of the misfortunes that Socrates has not really been the source of Western thinking and philosophy. Socrates was not in any way Western. Spiritually he belongs to the East, and that was the trouble, the reason that the Greek people could not tolerate him. He was poisoned, killed. His poisoning not only killed him physically, it also cut him away from the Western development of thinking.
The Western attitude developed, not out of Socrates, but out of Aristotle. Aristotle, in a way – apparently – is the disciple of Plato, and Plato was the disciple of Socrates. But intellectually Aristotle is just the contrary of Socrates.
Socrates is a mystic – not believing in God, not believing in any belief, not teaching an organized religion; but on the contrary giving absolute importance to the individual, and helping the individual to find his own life source. That is the true therapy. “To know thyself” is the condensed meaning of therapy. The function of the therapist is not to teach you who you are, but to create situations in which you start discovering yourself.
The first condition is creating self-respect in you – which all the religions are against. They all condemn you. They create a sense of guilt, and that is a wound that goes on growing within you. Whatever you do, something is wrong in it. You can never fulfill the expectations of others for the simple reason that you have a unique individuality. And that was the basic approach of Socrates – the uniqueness of the individual; each one has to discover his own truth.
The function of the teacher, of the master, of the therapist, of the educationist, is to create just the right atmosphere so that you gain self-respect, and to give you an acquaintance with the methods for going inwards.
All educational systems take you outwards. Listening to the person – it will look strange, because the teacher’s function is to make you listen to him. The Socratic method is listening to the person respectfully, patiently, so that he can open up. He need not repress anything, he need not inhibit anything; he can be utterly naked and yet remain dignified.
If a therapist can do that – help a man to be utterly nude, open, with no secret, hiding nothing – the therapist has succeeded, because in this nudity one realizes one’s innocence. One is born again. This nudity is symbolic. Just as a child is born nude, you are born again – now spiritually nude.
Socrates was punished because he was teaching the truth. He had a school – that was his commune – where the whole function was to be respectful to everyone who comes to the school and help him decondtion himself, deprogram himself so he becomes again an innocent child.