I hope I do not mislead readers into thinking that this is an article on a spiritual matter…there are many Great Gurus for that…who write and talk about the Inner Self, the Real Self etc. Also I do not pretend to lay claims to any great psychological insight in the lines that follow.
These are my own thoughts…those of an ordinary individual past his middle age, who is fond of observing life and the living. But I am quite hopeful that at least some of you will agree with the things I am going to say.
· OPINION ABOUT OTHERS:
Most among us are quick to form opinions about other people’s attitudes, mannerisms and behavior in general, aren’t we? We love to engage in this pastime either singly, or in groups. We can be quite merciless too when we form or create such images of others. Though we have been exhorted to ‘judge not’, we do that all the time.
Over a period of time, these ‘images’ or perceptions of our friends, foes or relatives crystallize and lo! We claim that we ‘know’ him or her very well.
Thus, in any society, we define a person as miserly, someone else as eccentric, and another as greedy…and so on. Often a single adjective suffices to describe an entire human in the circles in which the individual moves. Of course we can also be quite generous with some others when we attribute many positive qualities to them and even fit some among them with sagely halos.
How fallacious! That poor person whom we claim to know and whom we define has not evolved painfully over many Darwinian generations to be judged, classified and filed away in society’s image cabinets so casually. In reality can anyone be ‘known’ so accurately even after several years of close association? Many facets of a person’s total personality remain elusive in casual friendships and even sometimes in more intimate relationships. As we have all experienced sometime or the other, there can be surprising or unexpected behavior even from people whom we might have known for several years.
Often, unfortunately, such surprises- if unpleasant- can lead to ruptured relationships.
· KNOWING ONESELF:
That in turn leads me finally to another soul-searcher question… How much in fact do we know about ourselves?
The gut reaction to this question would be “Of course I know myself…I am like this… like that, and so on. But do others agree with this self perception?
Aah…There we have a problem, don’t we? Of course, what everyone does have is a self image of oneself as he perceives others to think about him. Alas, if it is put to comparison with the corresponding file images of society, results could be quite different, sometimes disastrous.
Complicated, isn’t it? I could help by complicating further when I add, as you already know, that each one of us has not one, but multiple images in society other than the self-perceived one. Images formed by the spouse, the mother, the boss, the friend, the sibling etc could all be different from each other as also from the self-perceived image.
The images formed about us by others are based primarily on how we act or behave in various situations. Since our response to the same stimulus varies depending on the place, occasion or person, it follows that the images too will be different. That also would explain why the same person is a hero to some, an ordinary person to others, and probably even a villain to others.
Then who is the real person behind all these images? Again I am not referring to the Self of the Spiritualist but only to the ordinary self. Knowing one’s true nature to any reasonable extent is possible only by self…if one is prepared to look inside oneself with the torch of awareness…and honestly acknowledge things as observed…both the angelic and the not-so-angelic qualities.
· ACKNOWLEDGING TO ONESELF WHAT IS OBSERVED:
Easy, is it? Think again.
Imagine you have an uneasy feeling after seeing someone. He would be a person you instinctively dislike for some reason. But your conscious mind may not be aware of the reason for your sudden moodiness when you spot him. If you probe in your mind for the reason, it is there…His mere presence has affected you by causing some negative vibes. But then how often do we acknowledge such feelings even to ourselves? Dislike for no reason?, hatred? “No no, I can’t be like that!”
“Do I feel envious on seeing a friend’s latest model car? No, no…not me. I am not a jealous person!”
“Do I feel attracted to that person…Certainly not, I can’t be a sinner!”
What happens is that our puritanical sense of right and wrong kicks in and we get shocked when we try to confront our real feelings. But then they are only feelings and they are there, whether you accept them or not. Feelings or thoughts do not come and go at your behest. They are always there whether you are a sinner or a saint. They are as much a part of nature as the cold, heat or wind. You can ask your child not to go out in the cold. You cannot issue an ultimatum that she should not feel the cold! Similarly there should not be any harm in just recognizing those feelings without actually acting upon them.
Needless to say, one should not act based on the negative feelings in us. But one can benefit by an inner honesty where we boldly confront ourselves as we are. Yogis say that even the mere act of recognizing or observing certain undesirable feelings or thoughts can help get rid of them. Also, many psychologists have discussed the danger of these pent up emotions bursting the dam of tolerance if left unnoticed for long.
How can we apply the balm of our acquired wisdom to alleviate these miseries if we are not even aware of them?
As it has been said by the wise, the courageous man also experiences fear when facing a dangerous situation. The difference between the brave and the cowardly is simply that the former has learnt to deal with his fears. The same logic can be extended to the man who is labeled ‘good’ versus the man labeled ‘bad’. The good man has probably learnt better to apply the appropriate controls in the journey of life- to avoid mishaps.
Except for that difference, it may be well said that every one of us is on a journey, the goal being the same. We are at different stages, that’s all.
What do you say?
I request readers to give their valuable opinion on the above article.