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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.

"It is this attitude of the heart and not what is said between two people that does healing work in both directions."

  Jerry Jampolsky, Teach Only Love, Part 5

Afterward I joined the staff as a Fellow at Langley Porter Institute in San Francisco. My work there involved seeing children who were schizophrenic. Most of these youngsters were unable to speak, and the work was difficult, but at least I did begin to sense one important fact: Words are irrelevant to what we teach and learn.

The experience of love and peace is the only thing of importance that is communicated. It is this attitude of the heart and not what is said between two people that does healing work in both directions. One party's accumulation of verbal knowledge is of little use to deep inner healing. It was not long after this that I began to observe something which indicated that, along with words, training and experience also are of questionable value.

It became apparent to me that some second-year medical students were often more proficient with their patients than were third-year residents. This assumption led me to a discussion with Ethel Vergin, who at that time was the administrative head of the outpatient department. She was a keen observer of the medical staff and had seen many medical students, residents, and consultants come and go during her more than fifteen years at the Institute. She confirmed my observation.

I began to wonder why this discrepancy existed. It occurred to me that attitudes might be the primary factor, so I began examining the personality and performance of each individual resident I worked with. My study confirmed that in the handling of difficult illnesses, third-year residents usually showed little or no superiority over those with less experience. For instance, third-year residents treating patients diagnosed as chronic schizophrenics learn from many consultants that treatment of this disease is tedious and frequently very slow. So, when these residents see a new patient with chronic schizophrenia, they have already incorporated the values and attitudes of the consultants into their own thinking. They begin the patient's treatment with the expectation that progress will be protracted and difficult. The patient in turn identifies with the resident's limited expectation, and this becomes the reality that both experience.

Second-year medical students, who have not been contaminated by the negative experiences of many medical consultants, are usually enthusiastic and optimistic about seeing their first psychiatric patients. The label given to the patient means little to them. They just know that one way or another they are going to help the patient and that progress will be made. The patient identifies with this positive expectation and often improves more rapidly than with a third-year resident.

In this situation, it is clearly one's attitude that is of paramount importance and not one's experience. In fact, experience in this example can even be viewed as a hindrance. This taught me never to decide in advance what is best for another person and not to consider any human being as simply a predetermined statistic.

Far more often than we realize, we see only the past in the people we encounter. But it is actually our past, rather than theirs, that we view as part of them. Consequently, we do not respond to them but only to our various preconceptions. The genuine desire to see others as they are this instant will go a long way toward purifying our attitudes. There would be very little to dislike in other people if we refused to bring to them all our own judgments and petty grievances. Our past experiences cannot tell us of present love. Remembering and seeing are not the same, and that is why memories are of little use to us in forming loving relationships.

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