Are we at a loss if we don’t have an idea about ourselves? Would it be so that one feels as if something is taken away, such that one may find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning? Is consciousness a matchbox idea of oneself or is there more to life than the content of our consciousness, as we know it now? Does life have an immensity that is not measureable, an infinite depth to it? If we don’t investigate our confusion today and find out if there is something deeper life becomes an empty shallow pool; a petty and shoddy box of pleasures and pains little different from a gift box of ashes. This many call ‘living’. Living this way we miss the sacredness and beauty of life.
Can there be relationship, in the true sense of that word, if one has a self-image? ‘Neither praise nor blame moves the wise man’ the ancient sutra says. Many understand insult and yet are still moved by flattery. Watch and observe; it always creeps in if one does not remain constantly alert. Insult and flattery are two sides of the same process. Where there is an image, an idea about oneself, there is pleasure and pain; they go together. Must this process go on endlessly? It will and it does so long as we make the mistake of thinking of the observer as different from the observed and accept the idea of the ego as a real and discrete entity. Read enough Western psychology and you will believe the ego is real. A hippy may dismiss the ego and but then he will say the centre is real, but they are the same thing. The ego is a moving thing that attributes to itself a sense of permanence, but it is not permanent. The ego has no fixed abode. Naturally one cannot ‘let go’ of the ego, such an idea is absurd; who is the entity letting go?
What is one to do? To be nobody is what is extraordinary. This does not mean average in the sense of being comfortably numb or plain dull, nor does it mean being humble. Humbleness is another form of vanity, not far removed from the pride of contribution we see in ourselves under buckets of ice water or in those billionaires who donate to charity. It is humility that is the very basis of love and humility cannot be cultivated. To cultivate humility is to deny it. Real learning is deconstructive and apophatic. Insight emerges when we see what is false. A belief system, a pattern of thinking, repeated over and over can appear automatic and natural when it is in fact learnt. Our entire way of living, the way we have organized ourselves as a society and have been taught as children promotes the fundamental belief in the self. It started out with the soul, now it is the psychological ego. It is important to question the origin of our sense of self. Is authentic existence an ego state or a non-ego state? Is there such a thing as a healthy ego state? Will not whatever we do always be confined to adjusting the known? What does it mean to be indivisible, a healthy sane individual who is free of psychological conflict? Is it a constant struggle of integration of fragments around a centre and therefore forever perpetuating psychological conflict or can the process of fragmentation be seen in its totality and wiped away in an instant? It is through love – which is not romanticism, sentimentality or emotionalism – that what has no beginning or end comes into being. There are no power relationships at play, no need for psychological strokes; it is strength beyond measure. Empathy and compassion are what are most powerful.
Compassion begins not just in seeing the self-image and image making process but also in the perception of the deep current of human sorrow which moves under the surface of the river of consciousness. One is never diminished by it, what is blissful cannot diminish. It sees what is actually taking place in the world, the sorrow of humanity without dipping into politics, theories or ideals. It sees how trauma is transferred, how identification grips us, how we imitate one another, how the conditioning process operates across time. Most importantly it sees how we relate to one another. The majority of us, as we know ourselves now, are a whirlpool on the surface of the river of human consciousness just trying to survive. It is sadly a very shallow affair. We relate to each other as fragments, through the image; expressed in relationship most commonly as mutual usage and convenience. We are so frightened that we seek safety in the concentration of our energy to secure a little corner of the earth called ‘home’. There is the abomination of work for a corporate master, bringing into being a system of division manifest as the presence of walls, barriers and fences invading everything. Clarity is seeing beneath the self-image and the image making process that drives it, it sees the actuality of the illusionary idea of psychological security. This is work we can do as adults, as mature individuals undoing the drivers of psychological conflict inflicted in our early years, all of which serve to separate us from one another. We are collectively deeply traumatized; our consciousness is not separate from the consciousness of humanity. Our personal insanity is just a matter of degree. In today’s world, just like yesterday and in the century before, madmen still lead the blind. Why do we accept authorities? What is it about our psychology that craves ‘big daddy’?
All of this has roots in the child raising methods of the past, the poisonous pedagogy. The parent neglects, represses or harms the child due to an image they have about themselves. The child who is neglected and harmed has no choice but to suppress their natural way of being, their biologically mandated expectations as a child born into the world. He or she creates the idea of not being enough, develops a distorted and confused sense of rightness or rather non-rightness of being. The subsequent stress arising from many unnecessary power dynamics in what we call the family are all written into neurological networks as the child learns and experiences. It is extremely rare to find a person unaffected by their infant experiences. It is a process of conditioning that transfers between generations, slightly modified but in essence largely the same. Tradition, as we know it today, is betrayal of the present and it is in the present that we can unlearn what we have learnt – from our parents and teachers, from the landlords and masters of the world. It is clarity that rewrites neurological maps. Meditation, which is not a system, is the process. Healthy community is a consequence.
There will be no peace until we see the sorrow of human consciousness, what thought has done in this world, the brutality of it all. To see the limitation of thought is an exceptionally rare and powerful insight. It changes everything. In this perception there is transformation. It is much more than an intellectual perception. Can we remain with what is actual and real without getting caught up in intellectual castles in the air? It isn’t easy because we are trained to think a certain way, to add in psychological time as a factor. We gain satisfaction from it. Clear perception is right action, it brings compassion without start or finish. There is energy, not to do mischief but rather to do what is right. When there is right relationship between fellow man, woman and child there will be no need for peace prizes. What kind of person accepts a peace prize, usually a president or leader. This itself speaks volumes.