The Existential Moment typographic logo

The Existential Moment: The Parable of the Good Samaritan

“And Jesus answering said, a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him….” (Luke 10: 30-34)

The standard interpretation of this parable is about having compassion and charity for those in need, without expectation of reward. But what if we think about it slightly differently?

The Priest and Levite “passed by on the other side.” They are inattentive, representing absence, separation from now, being there but not. Alternatively, the Samaritan “came where he was.” He was attentive, signifying presence. And its healing power in an “I-Thou,” “love thy neighbor” relation.

That message, the healing power of presence in relation, is a core pillar of E-H theory. Presence comes from the Latin prae (before) and esse (to be). It means “to be before.” It includes awareness, acceptance, availability, and expressiveness (Krug, 2019).

The why of presence is healing and growth. Presence opens a clearing for grasping, a gathering place for recognition and realization (contrasted with an abstract understanding).

In being before, the therapist enters, participates in, and grasps the client’s world (e.g., self-world constructsprotective patterns, core wounds, etc.). The therapist then potentially holds a powerful mirror of disclosive possibility. Focus in the room is first on the “here and now” and primary process rather than secondary meaning-making or content. 

In presence, likewise, the client sees and knows. Whether self-discovered on the therapeutic journey or grasped in a relational mirror, the answer becomes clear: “How am I currently living?” It paves a path to the question and a subsequent answer of possibility: “How am I willing to live?”


Krug, O. (2019). Existential-Humanistic and Existential-Integrative Therapy: Method and Practice. In E. van Deurzen (Ed.), The Wiley World Handbook of Existential Therapy (pp. 257-265). Wiley Blackwell.

Links to Related Blog Posts:

Read all The Existential Moment posts about “presence” on EHI’s blog.

Read all the Existential Moment series posts on EHI’s blog.

Share this post

Related Posts:

The Existential Moment typographic logo

The Existential Moment: The “Good Enough Mother”

The “good enough mother” (later “good enough parent”) concept is not just a cute catchphrase but a powerful view into the parent-child relationship. It describes a mother who provides an environment that meets the child’s needs adequately but not perfectly, allowing the child to experience and manage frustration in a safe setting. This approach, often overlooked or assumed, plays a pivotal role in helping children develop resilience and independence as they learn that the world will not always cater to their needs immediately or perfectly. Winnicott argued that being a ‘good enough mother’ is crucial for healthy emotional and psychological development, as it balances care and challenge, enabling children to grow into well-rounded adults.

Read More »
The Existential Moment typographic logo

The Existential Moment – Focus on the Interpersonal

Say what comes to your mind!

Researchers have unveiled a powerful adaptation of the classic Rorschach inkblot test in a groundbreaking development that some say is set to revolutionize therapeutic diagnostics. Dubbed “The Existential Rorschach,” this innovative tool is designed not only to probe the depths of the unconscious but to directly confront individuals with existential angst and the most profound existential givens: the inevitability of death, the quest for meaning in a seemingly indifferent universe, the terror of freedom, and the weight of personal responsibility. Using computational models based on chaos math and non-linear dynamics theory, a carefully curated series of AI-generated inkblots resembles cosmic disorder and the intricate patterns of life.

Read More »
  • Search EHI's Blog

    Upcoming Events

    Ongoing series on Existential & Humanistic therapy

    Get Updates

    Join our mailing list and get the latest in news and events.

    Blog Archives