What has been described in the book as the attitude of the therapist has a lot in common with what Gestalt Therapy calls the Fair Witness. Gestalt Therapy was developed in the middle of the twentieth century by the German Fritz Perls, his wife Laura and by the American Paul Goodman. Gestalt Therapy uses as a starting point a description of man as a Gestalt, which is an organic, self-regulating organism that strives for a biological balance. Someone’s Gestalt can be either open, in case that balance has not been found yet, or closed once the balance is achieved. When new needs arise, a new Gestalt will open, that again strives to be closed by meeting its needs. In therapy, Gestalt focuses a lot on what happens between the therapist and the client and deducts most of its information from that interaction to get to the core of the problem.
The Gestalt brings along with it the notion that the only thing that actually exists is the here-and-now. At any given moment we find ourselves in a specific location at that specific time. That state of being (i.e. that Gestalt) is gone in the next moment, because time and location change continually. This is similar to the ancient Greek principle called Panta Rhei, i.e. everything flows, nothing is stable. The emphasis is then put on realising the awareness of the here-and-now, coming into contact with yourself and with the world around you, for that is the only reality that exists. In order to get that awareness, you need to ask yourself some questions. What are you exactly aware of at this moment? What do you think, feel, do now? How do you do that? What exists around you? How are you positioned in the World? What is happening right now? In order to be able to answer these questions, you need a great amount of attention and awareness (which is being aware of what your existence consists of). This aspect of Gestalt Therapy comes close to the attitude of the therapist that I described in the previous chapter as an expansion of the principles of Almaas.
The Fair Witness from Gestalt Therapy can be described as that aspect of ourselves that observes our experience and the world around us: both what observes the own experience (physical, emotional, rational and spiritual) of the therapist and what observes that same experience of the client and everything that happens in the here-and-now. By sitting down and just pay attention to what is happening in the present, what you observe, what your thoughts are, what your (physical and emotional) feelings are without getting distracted, the Witness can already be experienced. This is already a pretty difficult task, as you can experience once you try to do the procedure I just described for a minute or so.
The Witness is something inside us, not outside ourselves, that does nothing else than observe, that absorbs everything we are aware of in itself and has no judgment about it. The Witness is the core of our consciousness that can be touched by what it experiences, but will not react from a personal history: it is strictly transpersonal. The Witness stays neutral, fair, shows empathy if it is touched and simply is there for ourselves and for the other. Getting into contact with the Witness is getting an state of consciousness of continuous attention, objective observation, non-judging awareness, sensitivity and being in contact with yourself and with the other in the here-and-now.
The Witness is already present universally from birth: after all, a baby observes the world around it as well. However the level of access to it is a separate line of development that is called the causal development. Causal means in this context that the Witness is the cause of awareness, attention, of the Essence of man and of the creative source of everything that is – in short, it is the cause of the presence of us. What I want to say with this is that the proper attitude is related to both the Witness from Gestalt Therapy and with the causal development of us. It turns out that this causal line comes to fuller development in the transpersonal stages of its development. The fact that this is in the higher regions of human development, confirms again that it is necessary to already have a significant personal development towards those stages in order to deal with the witness and at the same time it explains why the concept of the proper attitude is so hard to grasp. Still, it pays off if the right attitude can be found so that effective and beautiful communication and interaction can be achieved with other people.