Reuniting with Guru

Miss the previous update? Read it here.

Whether you are in government, a non-profit, the medical profession, the healing arts, or some kind of service position where the welfare of other human beings is central to your practice, it's bordering on something of a requirement, I believe, to know when and when not to push/advocate/sponsor an intervention you think is going to help.

We have to watch whether or not our impulse to help is in our best interest or the best interest of another. A quick way to check is to see how mentally OK you are with watching somebody tread a path that is likely to cause them difficulty or harm, even after attempting to present a better path to follow.

Something I've come to learn is that people, at times, must walk through life with debilitating illness, in poverty, without access to opportunity, etc. because these particular experiences are playing a role in their spiritual development.

Suffering, in this context, is not true suffering—it's a necessary rite of passage. To try and take it away from somebody else, even with a good, helping intention, is like trying to take away their and subtly strips away at the dignity of it.


Guru is a young boy I got to know in 2011. I worked with him for a few months, as he has a relatively extreme form of Cerebral Palsy, which prevents him from being able to walk, talk, chew solid food, hold his head upright, etc.

In a way, I initiated an outside intervention. Not only with the few months worth of Jin Shin Jyutsu treatments I gave him but, also, by helping to connect him to a local hospital that provides free treatment to children with severe disabilities.

When I returned this year, I was dismayed to learn that Guru's family made the decision to stop taking him to the hospital. The nearly four hours out of the day going to and fro each week proved to be unsustainable for his already busy mother.

We'll try and find a hospital closer, I reasoned, not heeding any of what I just wrote about above.

During a medical camp in the community recently, I asked one of the doctors if there was hospital nearby Guru could go to continue again with his rehabilitative treatment. There was and the doctor wrote Guru a prescription to visit it and believed the hospital would also pick up the transportation expense of getting him there.

I was excited. Done deal. Or so I thought.

The family dismissed the opportunity. Again, they felt as if the distance to this hospital that was closer, was still too far away to effectively manage. As a result, Guru will continue to stay at home all day, be sustained on a diet of liquid (since he can't chew solid food), and not have any form of rehabilitative therapy that would, quite likely, improve his life.

As soon as his father informed me of this final decision, I let it go. The intervention is not needed, as much as it seems like it is and there is obviously something larger than my idea of what's right happening.

Absolutely, it was OK to put in the effort to present the new option to Guru's family. However, I would have been making a mistake to continue to push after his family told me no and doing myself and the family a disservice.

Tempting it is to do this though — push — when we are attached to the outcomes we want and our beliefs about what's right. It really could have been for me after nearly four months of sharing about the "success" of Guru's story in public, including the work at the hospital that ultimately stopped.

The occasional visit to Guru's home is, of course, still on the table. Maybe down the line something will change but change is not something I will be actively worked toward with him and it's better that way.

Continue to next update about this year's work at the leprosy community.