Looking back on years of conversation both in and outside the classroom, I remember the voices, the faces, the handclasp of a stream of students. I see them in my mind, and in doing so I realize they stand in for profound others who have walked this way before. I hear their footsteps. It is as though you and I are walking through life but a few paces behind these great others.
The eight great people I discuss here—psychologists, philosophers, writers—have spoken through the voices of these students. They have awakened and sharpened otherwise sleeping parts of myself. As I try in these pages to distill what I have learned, I find that—
From Carl Rogers I learned to trust myself.
From Sigmund Freud I learned to dispassionately search myself.
From B. F. Skinner I learned to condition myself.
From Carl Jung I learned to find a place for all that I find in myself.
From Ralph Waldo Emerson I learned to trust the Interior of myself.
From Martin Buber I learned to trust the duality of relation and the sacredness of the Encounter.
From Abraham Maslow I learned to acknowledge the Transcendent wherever it is found.
From Eugene Gendlin I learned to trust the feel of meaning, even before I understand it.
I don't agree with everything these deep thinkers say. I don't claim to practice well the ideas that come from their better selves. But I do appreciate them. By now they have taken up roots inside me. I have come to regard them as significant pieces of who I am. I am fortunate to have heard and resonated to their rhythm.