Issues with the Litany of Gendlin

by Raemon 8y10th Dec 20111 min read80 comments


I think I have problems with this:

Litany of Gendlin

What is true is already so.
Owning up to it doesn't make it worse.
Not being open about it doesn't make it go away.

And because it's true, it is what is there to be interacted with.
Anything untrue isn't there to be lived.
People can stand what is true,
for they are already enduring it.


Do you actually think that's true?

I honestly don't think I do. I think there are horrible truths that can wreck your life if you're not prepared to deal with them. I think it may *usually* be best if you self-modify to be able to handle them, so that you don't run into trouble later. But to say there's NO difference ignores the fact that your emotional reaction to things is ALSO part of reality.

I like the idea behind it but I don't think I can really endorse it. I'm struggling because I'd like to incorporate it into my project, but it feels too wrong. And while I'm okay with chopping up lengthy sequence posts to so they can be read out loud, rewriting this to match my beliefs... well, it's not exactly a crime against humanity but it's technically not the Litany of Gendlin anymore which ruins some ritual-oomph. (And the part that I'd most want to change is the last two lines, which are the most powerful part)

Ideally it would communicate: "Lying to yourself will eventually screw you up worse than getting hurt by a truth," instead of "learning new truths has no negative consequences."

This distinction is particularly important when the truth at hand is "the world is a fundamentally unfair place that will kill you without a second thought if you mess up, and possibly even if you don't."

EDIT TO CLARIFY: The person who goes about their life ignoring the universe's Absolute Neutrality is very fundamentally NOT already enduring this truth. They're enduring part of it (arguably most of it), but not all. Thinking about that truth is depressing for many people. That is not a meaningless cost. Telling people they should get over that depression and make good changes to fix the world is important. But saying that they are already enduring everything there was to endure, seems to me a patently false statement, and makes your argument weaker, not stronger.

Potential change I can think of that doesn't wreck it too much and keeps it similar enough that I don't feel too bad: "Not owning up to it will only make things worse." Artistically I think it might be better to change the wording to something like "Refusing to admit it will only make things worse," but then the change becomes big enough that I feel kinda wrong again.

Maybe refer to it as Litany of Gendlin', to distinguish it while staying classy.

SECOND EDIT: It's become pretty clear, looking a collection of comments, that Typical Mind Fallacy is at work here. Some people value truth and emotional response differently. My problem is that a) *I* value emotional response as the end, and my preference for truth, while extremely useful, is only there to facilitate emotional response in myself and others. b) I know there will be other people at the event in question who share my position.

In any case, I'd like advice from the people who believe the Litany is inaccurate (or at least are able to model people who believe that) on how to handle the situation.