By Dr. Minnu R Bhonsle
We act escapist when we relate to things and people which do not reflect back our true face to us. But we must know that the self-analysis and self-awareness resulting from being mirrored in the face of relationships is a catalyst for self-growth
In the West particularly, Osho said, where love has been killed completely, people are in love with things or animals: dogs, cats, cars, houses rather than with people. It is easier to love a thing or an animal; a dog is more faithful than a wife ever can be
Keen observation is all that is required to learn and understand the games that the human psyche plays. And once you have mastered the art of observation, your life will be filled with unparalleled and never-ending humour. Yes, the human psyche is one eternal comedy and the clown of this circus is, of course, none other than the world-renowned comedian, Mr Ego. Seeing ‘Mr E’ perform his age-old antics through contemporary situations is hilarious. Which is why the Laughing Buddha shook with laughter his whole life. He had got the joke.
Let us see one of the age-old performances of ‘E–Man, Master of the Uni-verse’.
I was on my usual morning walk the other day, when I saw a Ms E feeding a bunch of hungry stray dogs, who were returning the favour by wagging their tails vigorously at her, licking her feet, looking at her devotedly and generally making complete asses of themselves. Ms E was looking positively radiant, and was beaming with all the attention that she was getting. She looked around the park looking for someone to notice and acknowledge how popular she was with those poor starving dogs. Usually, there were always a few suckers around the park, who would acknowledge her popularity and virtually view her as GOD of the DOGS. But, unluckily for her, I was the only one around on that day. She looked up and met my eyes expecting an appreciating nod, or at the very least a smile complimenting and acknowledging her good deed. What she got instead was a pair of eyes that completely looked through and through her. She became visibly uncomfortable, not knowing what to do and how to react next. And react to what? There was the dilemma of responding to a non-response. She had obviously never been faced with such a situation. Poor Ms E was dumbfounded.
This aspect of the human psyche is easy to spot in ourselves as well. We are only comfortable being in company where we don’t have to change. Change is uncomfortable. Truth is uncomfortable. So you see sick relationships of the needy and the needed, where one needs and the other wants to be needed, with both sicknesses fitting well into each other. Everyone wants to feel needed, liked, loved, accepted but no one wants to pay the price of ‘change’ and ‘transformation’. If one wants to have one’s cake and eat it too, there is only one way to go about it; and that is to find a situation where you can delude yourself into feeling loved and accepted without actually being worthy of it.
So very often you see people spending their lives with dogs, cats, birds, etc., people spending time with the disabled, the downtrodden; people spending time with children or with those much, much younger to them and generally with all those who do not mirror and reflect back to them. And there are innumerable opportunities for such comfort-seekers who want to have the pleasure of some form of relating without the pain of seeing their face in the mirror of relationship.
The latest addition to these opportunities is the introduction of ‘chat rooms’ on the internet, where you can say anything to anyone and get away with it. This is the most recent, advanced and hi-tech delusion of all times. The pleasure without the pain, the freedom without the responsibility. More and more teenagers and even so-called adults are getting addicted to this type of relating, in which even your identity need not be disclosed. You can falsify everything about yourself: your name, age, profession, likes, dislikes, lifestyle, behaviour. The other party can play the same game with you. So both of you can busily weave a web of illusion to each other. What a joke!
Let us not forget another new packaging to accommodate Mr E. It’s the phenomenon of ‘party lines’. Here you call on a telephone number and pay to have a ‘friendly’ talk with the ‘paid friend’ on the other side of the phone. Of course, this is definitely more fun for such comfort-seekers than to have a real, equal, honest, responsible, committed and face-to-face relationship, which will mirror their actual face and strip them of their masks. They would rather have a one-night stand than be in a committed relationship; they would rather befriend a parrot than a human being; they would rather chat on the internet than have friends over; they would rather do charity outside than at home; they would rather be President/Chairman of a social organisation than ordinary Mr/Mrs so and so or just plain Daddy and Mommy of a family. In short, they would go to any lengths to have the delusion of relationship while conveniently doing away with all the responsibilities of it.
What Osho has said in this respect is insightful: ‘‘In the West particularly, where love has been killed completely, people are in love with things or animals: dogs, cats, cars, houses rather than with people. It is easier to love a thing or an animal; a dog is more faithful than a wife ever can be. Whenever you come home, he is there to welcome you, wagging his tail, making you feel good. You cannot find a more faithful animal than a dog—he remains faithful, there is no danger. A wife is dangerous. A husband is dangerous; any moment he can mirror your true face. And when he mirrors, your whole ego is shattered, you feel hurt. To protect from that hurt ever happening, you start escaping from the husband or the wife; you start escaping from anything real so that mirroring can be avoided.’’
All this demonstrates a crucial and relevant aspect of the human psyche; the need to escape all possible situations which have the slightest possibility of mirroring the face you are uncomfortable seeing. The truth therefore is that Mr E, the escapist psyche, wants the comfort of being an irresponsible child at all times, and cannot, and will not stand the truth; therefore he is anti-truth, anti-love, anti-commitment and thus anti-life.
What then is the way out?
One cannot grow without the mirror of relationships. The danger always exists that one might delude oneself into believing that one is a growing and evolving person, and thus never really grow.
Personal growth is the outcome of personal interactions with people. You can learn so much while relating. Your interactions with others teach you many things about yourself, and about yourself in relation to others. For example, your degree of security and trust with others, your skills in getting on with others, i.e. skills of initiating and sustaining relationships, your submissiveness or domination, your cooperation with others, your positive and negative attitudes towards others, how far you are destructive or constructive in your remarks, how far you are selfish or unselfish, etc.
In order to learn all these things, you must first be aware of your feelings, desires, tendencies, and reactions. And then you must reflect and analyse yourself in various interpersonal situations. This requires complete honesty with yourself and a serious determination to enrich yourself. This self- analysis and self-awareness which is the result of being mirrored in the face of relationships is a great catalyst for growth, and therefore such mirroring should be actively sought out and received as a blessing and a growth opportunity.
When one is OK with dogs and humans alike, with being President and Daddy alike, with surfing the internet and being with family and friends alike, with solitude and the marketplace alike, when everything is loved equally and as one; ‘E-Man Master of the Uni-verse’ will no longer exist. Instead we will see New-Man, Lover of All Grades and Master of ‘ONE’.
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