08/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

An Invitation: Suspend All Diagnosing

You are cordially invited and sincerely encouraged to declare one day a diagnosis free day. (It's not as simple as it may sound.) During the period of twenty-four hours, diagnosis of any kind is denied admission into your evaluation of yourself and others.

This day is by no means an attempt to demean or dismiss the importance of true diagnostic endeavors. Diagnosis is at the heart of most cures. It is the starting point of intelligent choice in any situation that needs correction. The Buddha's diagnosis that "Life is suffering" lead to his sublime formula for the release of suffering. Your doctor's diagnosis of your particular sickness directs proper treatment. Your own diagnosis about your life situation can lead to life changing decisions that are in alignment with your heart's desire.

But, like anything in our obsessive (diagnostically speaking) culture, we have used the powerful tool of diagnostic language to separate ourselves from others, and have suffered from the result. If someone radically disagrees with us, we can easily categorize him or her as imbecilic or delusional. How else could it be possible that they see the world so differently? If someone supports our particular world-view in a brilliant way, we diagnosis him or her as a genius. If someone suddenly feels and expresses inordinate, causeless happiness, do we assume they are having a manic episode? Do we assume they are enlightened? Both are diagnoses. Either may or may not prove to be true, but what if for a day we let it all just be what it is. What if we don't apply our vast accumulation of inherited and borrowed knowledge to diagnosing one another?

I recently had a conversation with someone who reported that she had an electronic chip inside the base of her skull. She was certain that the government had planted it there, and it was causing her great pain. The pain caused by the chip paled in comparison to the pain she felt when everyone she told about the chip dismissed her as crazy. In meeting with her, I told her it did sound crazy, but that in our meeting I would assume it was true. Then our meeting was no longer about the relative sanity or insanity of her experience, but about where she could find peace in the midst of her experience. For her, in that moment at least, she found some peace in having her experience accepted as valid. Then she was open to discovering that under the discomfort of the chip, deep inside her heart there was love and silence. I don't pretend to know how long she will be able to turn to the peace of her heart, but at least in that moment joy was present in her life. Perhaps a psychiatric diagnosis and treatment could support her in discovering and living a life of joy, but at that particular moment all she wanted was to have her experience believed and accepted, not pathologized.

For one day are you willing to withhold opinions of pathology? (You're looney! You're an idiot!) Are you willing to withhold opinions of elevation (You're cured for life! You're the best in the world!)? Are you willing to not make distinctions of worth based on distinctions of experience?

If you are willing, it begins with yourself. It begins with what you tell yourself about yourself, both good and bad. It begins with the willingness to let feelings be feelings without meaning anything at all about you. To let an experience stand on its own without defining who you are.

If you are willing, then you discover what is left when all diagnoses either disappear or are ignored. For one day you can allow others and yourself to be free of definition.

Who are you without diagnosis?

Gangaji will hold her next public meeting in Ashland, Oregon, August 16th. She will be in Boston for a public meeting September 12th, and in Woodstock for a public meeting September 14. She will hold a seven day retreat in Garrison, NY beginning September 16th. Read more about Gangaji's events and catalog of books and videos online.