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Maria threw her coat on the bed and turned the heater on. The house was cold on her return from the meeting.

“That was a disgrace,” she fumed to Amira. Gortaithe looked sympathetic. He would always be a one-eyed supporter. Amira, however, didn’t say anything. “Conceited, arrogant, egotistical, delusional,” said Maria. She had been thrilled with the invitation left in her mailbox a week ago.

You are warmly invited to the first Co-operative Meeting of Eraldus Professional Healers which will be chaired by the esteemed Bliss Kurt.

There were several semi-famous healers and self-help writers living in Maria’s area. Bliss Kurt was one of them. Tall with long, loose, blonde hair and excellent posture; she was an imposing figure. She had an equally good looking partner who Maria later discovered had only been around for the last six months. They looked like a cross between hipsters and movie stars.

Bliss was not exactly what Maria had hoped for but she told herself that everyone is different. Maria happened to be in the bathroom when it was empty except for, fortuitously, Bliss. Great, thought Maria, I will be able to connect with her when no one else is clamouring for her attention. However, Bliss took one look at Maria, acted like no one was there, and started preening in the mirror. After that, she seemed to have made a mental note not to look at Maria, let alone allow her to speak.

It wasn’t exactly a “cooperative meeting of Eraldus healers”. It was more of a presentation of the past achievements and future ambitions of Bliss. Of course, such meetings are full of the words love, peace, and humility. There is an equal abundance of hugging, oming, and namasting with hands prayerfully clasped together. In spite of all the “love”, there seemed to be an uneasy feeling of spiritual one-upmanship. There was lots of name-dropping. One story which particularly annoyed Maria was Bliss’s recollection of socialising with a world renowned spiritual and self-help leader.

“I’m not planning on coming back,” he said to Bliss. He came from an Indian background and the wheel of reincarnation was an inbuilt part of his view of evolution. “I want this life to be my last,” he said. “I think I’ve done enough to warrant it.” Maria thought that anyone who was not coming back would not be talking about it. However, this man had done a lot to help humanity so he was probably entitled to a bit of enlightenment self-promotion.

“I totally agree,” said Bliss all arms and drama. “I’ve done soo much to help the world that there is no way I am coming back.”

You’ve done enough, thought Maria, to promote your own pseudo-guruship to last several lifetimes. I am not sure how much you have done to actually help the world.

However, the worst thing was what Maria witnessed when she decided to quietly leave the meeting through the open kitchen door.

“Excuse me, Bliss,” said a softly spoken woman in her fifties. “I was wondering if I could join the audience for some of the presentation.” She was wiping her hands on a tea towel after preparing food for the evening.

“Oh, sweetheart,” said Bliss patronisingly. “You are coming along so well with your studies but you are not quite ready yet to sit with the others. They are professionals, after all. I will let you know when it is time. Continue with your service to the Divine, help me with the privileged work without complaint, and the Great One will bless you as it has blessed me.” Bliss then dismissed the woman with her hand as she was very busy. The woman didn’t look in the slightest offended.

Maria continued walking through the kitchen. Just outside the door, a man was sitting holding his hand. He had burned himself on the stove. The woman came out to help him. She looked at him with as much love as if he was the most precious being in the world.

She took his hand and said, “Edward, dear, don’t be upset. There is nothing wrong with you.” The love and peace radiated from her and Edward decided to jump up.

“You’re quite right,” he said as if he couldn’t remember what the problem was. “I have things to do.” He happily returned to the kitchen and the woman serenely followed. Now, there’s a healer, thought Maria.

“Healing is simple,” said Amira, “if one is healed. The unhealed healer teaches what he or she lives which is the ego.”

“It’s my ego that is so annoyed with her, isn’t it?” asked Maria. “Bliss is my peer and instead of showing me respect, she acted like I didn’t even exist.”

“What else can get offended but the ego?” said Amira. “God is not a professional. Truth is not a profession. The spiritual path is more of an unlearning than a learning.”

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