How instinctive it is for one to raise their voice the minute one suspects one’s own folly! Haven’t you observed that? I mean in yourself not in others. I write this because the past few weeks had me gleefully expose this base instinct in many people (ex-employers, friends, colleagues, et al) and I immediately turned the spotlight on myself to see how different am I. Beyond the consciousness I bring to most of my actions so that I can continuously understand myself, I cannot deny that I am occasionally a criminal myself. So this is no longer about you or me. It is verily about the common human fabric that forms nearly most of us.
I start a discussion and the minute I notice the veneer of my self-attested brilliance peeling, I get annoyed, I get exasperated, I try mocking at the other person who clearly possesses sound logic and clarity, I simply disagree with him and aver that “I don’t think you are right” and side-step the vital responsibility in the wake of that statement, that of explaining why I think so.
It burns my skin to be caught wrong in public, as if I have been walking around naked only to realise that in the quadrangle of a forum and all that gaiety and confidence about my threads and demeanour are laid bare, literally and figuratively, not in the seclusion of my bedroom where none shall know other than the tales I carry out of the door, but in an agora where people rarely wait for me to explain for what is seen and heard is all that sells in the marketplace of human interaction. And then I raise my voice and rail about the atrocities of world in which we live, how morals have fallen, how the king is cruel and, the minute I find a few heads nodding, continue to dig into that one topic which seems to distract people from my nakedness.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (no less a victim of this phenomenon) calls this a relationship between images. We have an image of the other person and we have an image of ourselves. We wish to prove repeatedly establish our image to be worthy of the other image’s consideration. Ponder over that. What if I strip myself of any image and personas everyday as soon as I rise and before I even recognise the world around me?
This is not a mental exercise (as isn’t most of deep realisation). To shed our image, our preferred persona, is not something we can get up in the morning and say “Ok, today I have decided to not consider myself brilliant”. It is not that simple. It requires going into our mind and understanding why we are wounded when someone critiques us. Why are we hurt when we don’t win a game of table tennis? Why are we uncomfortable when another brings a more intelligent idea? A more beautiful illustration? A more creative plan? A more wise approach to a problem? A vital insight into a matter being discussed? Without that understanding (which isn’t mental or intellectual), without the clarity into why we feel what we feel and respond the way we do, there is no hope in our attempt at shedding this image. If we refuse to see what is, all attempts at transformation are abortive at best and ridiculous as a norm.