Heal/Grow Up or Wake Up! ;-) (Self-improvement & Self-realisation)

In August 2019 I was invited to speak at the APAC Coaching Conference and I did it with Ark, the new avatar of CoEvolve (a partnership between me, Arjun and Rohit).

We met Leon Vanderpol over there who has written a book called A Shift in Being.. Coaching & Learning from the ground of Awakening. A profoundly different ground of freedom which inckudes personal growth but also the invitation beyond the story of the person. Byron Katie talks about it and many others.

He remarked that apart from us, he didn’t see anyone inviting and coaching from this rare ground of truth and love. He calls it Deep Coaching. We call it Radical Coaching.. the fundamental ground is similar and yet each is unique. I had written this blog post below many years back but felt like updating it with this context.

Also Artistry of Awakening was initiated by Rohit and I am supporting it. It’s time to wake up, heal and grow up.. Covid pandemic times since March 2020 have made it more urgent and essential.

Below is the original blog post..


“There is a healing in the dream. And a healing from the dream” – Ananta

I have been ‘consumed’ to some degree with this question of ‘Enlightenment’. Being pretty comfortable with paradox, I see that it is not an accomplishment. I have a sense of what it is though I am not in that state (if there is something like being in that ‘state’ because that reduces it to something you have to achieve). I have experienced states of flow and glow. I don’t think suffering has ended , nor has time ended for me, for that matter! In some ways, I have relaxed my seeking, but I do continue to ‘seek’.

I was helping a dear friend, Brijbala clear her clutter, even as I struggle with my own. Sometimes the notion of – you can enable another only if you are doing that yourself – does seem false! And this book popped out. As books always do at right time 😉 – The Open Secret by Tony Parson. Had been wanting to read it for many weeks now. It had been lying on my table and I keep going back to it. And then at ‘The School of Ancient Wisdom’ I started reading it.

I was impelled to share it with dozens of my fellow travellers.. Here I share a precious portion of the book and urge you to pick up the book. It costs less than Rs. 200 on http://www.flipkart.com The book is all of 48 pages! Each line is a precious pearl not to be held, but to be seen. And allow the marvelling to wrap you in silent delight perhaps as it did to me.


I like the story of God and Devil watching man as he discovered something beautiful in a desert. “Aha” said God to the Devil, “now that man has found truth you will have nothing to do”. “On the contrary” replied the Devil, “I am going to help him organize it.”

Whenever or wherever there is organized religion, there also can most easily flourish a rich breeding ground for our worst fears, our darkest guilt, and our ugliest conflicts, person to person, nation to nation and faith to faith. Whether we hold a religious belief or not, these wounds can lie deep within us and invade every part of our experience.

It felt unnatural and limiting to support an ethic based on such a purgative “no” and carefully considered “yes” when I intuitively recognized that what I was looking for was absolutely beyond both. In these circumstances I moved on and investigated the world of contemporary therapy and spirituality.

These approaches to fulfillment seemed to me to be so much more intelligent and accepting than anything I had previously come across, the ideas so very open and liberating.

It was tremendously exciting to be offered the means whereby I could learn to uncover heal and integrate those parts of my life which seemed to interfere with my relationships with people, creativity, health and wealth, and most importantly of all, my own sense of self-worth.

If all of us could do this, what a wonderful world it could become. It appealed to me, especially in contrast to the idea of having to shape myself to way of life based on someone else’s conceptual model of how I should be.

There were so many interesting and new processes to choose from, and so many people to share with in what felt like a twentieth century spiritual adventure. It was fascinating to be involved in shocking and illuminating breakthroughs, the rush of emotions, the fear and excitement of revealing my innermost secrets, of truly surrendering to my guru, of discovering why I was so fascinated by and so frightened of women. Sharing in other people’s agonies and revelations, past life memories, present assaults and future hopes and dreads, all was a revelation and a confirmation.

It was all so exciting, and it was all about me!

I involved myself in the deepest and most illuminating meditations, consumed the most recent and significant books, and of course threw myself with much enthusiasm into the latest therapies. They burst out of the ground like new fruits, to be sucked and digested, or tasted and thrown away… this breathing method, that affirmation, this integration, that special and significant energy…all had a fascination for me in those early days. If these activities were seen to be introspective or self-indulgent, then I had already recognized that, with one exception, all choice is generated from self-motivation.

The expression of feeling become sacrosanct together with the need to think positively, forgive my mother, heal my inner child, delve into my past, and so on. All of these things become vital and important process to follow…rather like a modern-day Ten Commandments.
I spent a year doing an intensive residential course experiencing many key contemporary therapies mixed with eastern meditations.

After a while I settled on those therapies or methods I felt suited me and brought me most benefit.

I experienced considerable movement of previously held inhibitions, and came to recognise belief systems and patterns that had strongly influenced much of my early behaviour.

In much of the work done it appears that the strengthening and reinforcement of a sense of self-identity and self-worth is the primary aim. The theory seems to be that if I can embrace and assimilate these processes, then I can eventually emerge as a more alive, balanced and effective individual, with a clear idea about relationships and my part in whole. All of that structure would need to be built on a powerful set of belief systems developed from considerable discipline and effort. But belief resides within the shadow of doubt. It only functions effectively in direct proportion to the suppression of the doubt that it seeks to override.

I began to see again that I was trying to repair and put together a set of parts in the hope that they might eventually come together to make a whole. But this approach directly contradicted my understanding that enlightenment lay beyond my efforts and expectations concerning self-identity and self-worth.

For those who seek change as individuals within the wheel of life, the contemporary therapeutic world offers tremendous scope and much deeper and accepting approach than anything that has gone before.

– Tony Parsons, The Open Secret


In a conversation with Rajesh Dalal who as appeared in another of my blogs (Simple encounters with Greatness), he made a very simple observation. He said, ‘Evolution is located in time’ And of course, awakening is outside of time. Similarly one could well say, healing is located in time. It may or may not take you beyond time. By no means, am I against healing. However, it is important to put things in perspective. And certainly, till we keep seeing reality as good/bad, right/wrong, pure/evil, light/dark, we are very much located in the dual. And interestingly also in a duel 😉 – a duel with what is.

My close friends often chide me, tease me, point out to me that I have a tendency to always look at paradoxes- and the flip side of things. I do love to look at things upside-down, backside-front and inside-out, play with thoughts, views. And do believe that when the question is ‘either-or’, the answer is ‘and’. However, there is a wisdom in either-or and some things must be seen as such. Perhaps seeing Healing as different from awakening is one such. It is possible to wake up and not be healed.

And perhaps .. healing may or may not lead to awakening. It may even come in the way of awakening. Or not. They are two different and separate dimensions. And yet intertwined.

I thought I must update this blog post written 2.5 years back with this quote which arrived today (16 july 13) in my Inbox, interestingly, again through Briji (Brijbala) mentioned earlier. Before you read that, I want to say that I have seen that everything has a place.. therapy, truth, healing and more. But the quote below – makes a certain invitation that is vital. 

You must decide, what do you want?
Therapy or Truth?
Searching for healing for your egoic identity
is like trying to heal a ghost with anorexia.
In the end, guess what:
you are not real!

~ Mooji

And now, another 1.5 years later (Dec 2014) .. this youtube video arrived which is also related to this theme.. giving a textured persepective..

Therapy and non-dual understanding – Rupert Spira (click the link underlined)

This came from a very dear friend, Sangeeta Bhagwat who writes a wonderful blog Serene Reflections and great poems on her timeline on facebook .. poems that weave the non-dual into daily life.

Like I mentioned Ananta’s clear seeing about the healing in the dream and a healing from the dream. Perhaps, there comes a time when even this division between the non-dual and the dual ends and healing in the dream and of the dream is happening as it needs to. Seamlessly.

And then in 2017 I came across this piece of clarity which has been a defining understanding of this question. It seems to me that evolution/ healing and Awakening are like two strands of a DNA- intertwined and yet distinct. This will clarify :,

“Our psychology is intertwined with our spiritual, or existential, yearning, and at the same time they are also distinct lines of development. Psychology deals primarily with the development of the personal domain of consciousness, from our inner subjective experience of ego development to our outer development as relational beings, again from the ego-minded state of consciousness. In the relative world, it is of great advantage to have a healthy, well-adjusted, functional ego.

Strictly speaking, the spiritual domain has to do with existential issues, like who we are beyond self or ego, what ultimate reality is, and awakening from the dream of ego-minded identity. A simple way to think of the difference between the psychological and spiritual domains is that the psychological domain is oriented toward self-improvement (becoming a happier and more well-adjusted person), while the spiritual domain is focused on transcending and awakening from the self and embodying awakened perception in everyday life.

So while the psychological and the spiritual domains of experience are distinct, in actual experience they are not separate from one another, one will almost always involve the other to some extent. The reason that I took the time to define the difference between the two is that psychological self-improvement will not, in and of itself, lead to spiritual awakening, nor will spiritual awakening necessarily heal all of one’s psychological blind spots. They are related but not the same.

I would say that 90 percent of my teachings are oriented toward the spiritual domain. And even though this is so, probably 75 percent of the questions that I get are about improving some aspect of people’s personal psychology. This is neither right nor wrong; it is just the way that it is. But it is helpful to understand that the two domains, while related, differ in their approach and ultimate aims.

Most spiritual teachers are not trained as psychologists, and most psychologists are not trained as spiritual teachers.

Having said this, it is good for both psychologists and spiritual teachers to have some working knowledge of the others’ domain for the simple reason that, although the two domains of human experience are different, they are also related and part of any truly deep inner work.

To be a truly realized, happy, free, and embodied human being, we will need to be both psychologically healthy and spiritually awake, however that comes about.”

– Adyashanti

Jeff Brown has written a book, “Grounded Spirituality” which speaks to this deeply.

13 thoughts on “Heal/Grow Up or Wake Up! ;-) (Self-improvement & Self-realisation)

  1. thanks sangeeta.. yes, i know.. and i also know that u may have delighted in the fact that i acknowledged the ‘either-or’ vs the obsession with the ‘and’ and embracing paradoxes..

    there is a place for paradox and there is a place for ‘or’ which is hidden inside paradox. must also check the journey of the ox.. is it? in the zen literature? hahahahaha

  2. Interesting, Kiran,

    I never thought of it like this before. After reading this, I’m beginning to see that we’ve made healing into a desire and awakening into a desire. I guess it’s time to drop even such desirable desires. AND as you would say ‘or not’.

  3. love the devil and his organisational skills – due to which many are the organisation’s-kills!!!! 🙂

    as i read your musing on healing and awakening – the play with the concepts captured my attention and i went deeper i found this within me as my interpretation or the understanding that bubbled up for me… ‘to awaken is to HOLD – the duality, with love and compassion…and so for the awakened the wound and the healing exist in the same breath, the same plane, the same reality’ so yes for the awakened – you are wounded AND healed… not wounded OR healed… long live the paradox!!

    1. Precisely Jagruti..
      Its not possible to be both simultaneously..
      we live in duality..
      and also in oneness!
      wounded and healed..
      the delicious paradox..
      awake and asleep..
      detached and involved..

  4. Dear Kiran,

    I have always loved your searching being…
    I feel blessed that I am connecting with your writings…
    Thank you.

    1. Hello Sunita
      The feeling of blessing is mutual.
      Only a searching being can deeply sense another 😉
      Will u come to Zorba the Buddha?
      I am here till 21st.
      Would be wonderful if you could attend a day!

  5. Hi Kiran…very interesting debate!
    I agree with Jagruti…yes for the awakened the wounds and the healing are on the same plane.
    I would like to add that to reach that state of wakefulness, go beyond dualities….healing of deep wounds is required. Periodically as we become ready to move to a higher level of wakefulness, the baggage that has kept us at the existing level needs to be dropped…I see the two as being cyclic.

  6. Beautiful flow, seems like it got written in a singular flow. Will certainly get The Open Secret…it was the devils plan around truth that got me!! 🙂

  7. Incidentally watching Tony Parsons here while reading this… following the suggestion to watch videos… loved the line in here that says evolution is located in time. Gosh so simple it is. As you have so astutely put it, I can actually see healing getting in the way of simplicity of just watching life… it has served me earlier – as GD puts it now you are in a lighter dream whereas earlier you were in a denser dream. But dream it is nonetheless. Thank you. Love.

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