Between the Lines: A Conversation with David Benner – Part 4

This is the fourth in a five-part (we have extended it since we began) interview with Dr. David Benner – author of the recent Brazos book Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation.

David’s book was recently featured in the Book Club at Patheos.com.

In Part 1, Dr. Benner discussed his purpose for writing Spirituality and the Awakening Self.
In Part 2, he talked about Christian mysticism and what it has to offer for one’s journey of transformation.
In Part 3, he discussed the role of community in that journey.

In today’s post, we ask David about what he says is the “first rule of care” for others.

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You say that the first rule of care is to support without constraint.  Can you say anything more about this?

If we are honest we have to acknowledge that this is often much harder than it looks.  It is so easy to relate to others in terms of our own needs.  Both communities and individuals do this.  Although they don’t always realize it, communities often “need” their members to stay within the shared worldview that holds the group together and this is often built around a shared level of consciousness.  When this is the case, the community will act to keep people within its framework for understanding and relating to the world (its level of consciousness) and those actions will be ones of constraint, not simply holding.

But individuals do the same.  We may think that we care for another person but the measure of that care will be reflected in how willing we are to help them grow in ways that we haven’t grown and move within themselves to places we have never explored nor inhabited.  This takes a great deal of courage and trust, not just in the individual but more importantly in the Spirit and in the human capacity to follow the Spirit on a journey that is not always mediated by those who provide their care and support.  This is hard, but it is the true measure of love.  True love is love for the person in terms of who they may become, not simply who they are. This is true unconditional love; it is visionary, trusting love that seeks to support but never constrain.

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