We seek advice from a religion, a master or a guru; we follow a system (which may be religious or it may be some other form of society, club or identity marker) in order to uncover who we really are, what within us is true and what is false, to ‘find ourselves’ and end our search. We see that the image we have of ourselves may be a lie and to expose this lie, we seek the company of a wise teacher, whether dead – Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed – or a living guru. We hope that this system or teacher will present us with a way of living that cultivates understanding, greater clarity and goodness within; and so we immediately become dependent upon this system and its projected authority. In order for us to see ourselves with clarity, we need the guru or the messiah and his system; we need his presence in some way because without this the clarity of our idea of our own fallibility is lost. In order to attain any sense of clarity we now need the master, we need the comparison. What value is there in clarity gained through comparing ourselves with another? What are we really saying about ourselves? Do look into this for yourself, rather than wait for an answer.
So we compare ourselves to others, to ideals, in order to see things clearly. But any clarity that is rooted in comparison has no value whatsoever. In fact, when based upon comparison and measurement it is not clarity at all; it is the worst kind of disorder. There is no freedom and no acceptance of what you already are. Instead, comparison builds up pressure, moving you away from your Being towards an image that you have formed in your mind as to what you ‘should be’. All activity of comparison and measurement is a prison, and in this prison there is no love. Not only is there a lack of love for oneself but when I, for example, compare myself to you – by judging you or finding weaknesses in you – I no longer honour you.
You show another love and dignity only when you look at them without comparing, which is to move beyond the resistance of the self. Comparison is not needed for clarity. With clarity, you see that comparison is an escape from what you are. Such an escape breeds illusion and only adds to your conflict and confusion. Comparison is the conflict between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’. True clarity arises only when one is able to see the conflict within one’s mind, able to see why this conflict continues. In true clarity, one is able to see the disorder of comparison and the lack of love for oneself in comparison. Clarity is the seeing of ‘what is’ that comes with the total acceptance of ‘what is’, without the distorting comparison with ‘what should be’. Any notion of ‘what should be’ is an ideal, an escape, and such self-projections prevent understanding. Comparison is a way of avoiding oneself, and in this there can be no clarity.
Nor is there clarity in dependence. You chase the guru, the messiah or the master for answers but when you chase, when you really want something, you leave yourself open to deception; not necessarily deception by the guru (although many so-called gurus deceive) but self-deception driven by desire. Deception is only possible when you want something. When there is no wanting and no needing – when there is humility and freedom – then deception is impossible. If you have allowed a messiah or a master to become a crutch for you, then you are deceiving yourself because you are operating under the influence of another. Freedom cannot flourish from dependency on another and goodness cannot flourish from the following of authority, whether external or internal. Freedom and goodness only flourish from one’s reason and one’s capacity to work things out on one’s own. Then you don’t depend on the rabbi, the priest, the guru or the messiah; you don’t depend on anybody at all and that is when intelligence comes into operation. You face your own disorder alone, you learn why you conform, why you imitate, why you control, sublimate and suppress, why you submit to your fears and why you are easily led by your desires. As you learn about these ‘why’s, your self-understanding deepens, and with it come order and a virtue that is your own. This is authentic virtue. It is only through self-understanding that humanity will ever be good.