You: A Hypothesis for Personal Joy and Freedom
By: J. Marlando
By the time that most of us are in high school we have formed a persona self. That is, a personality that is based on how we want people to see us and how we think people see us. In this way we attempt to live up to our own mythology. I believe that males are, in general, far more apt to hide behind an artificial personality than most females are. For only one thing, women are life-givers and therefore experience more “value” in themselves than men typically do. This does not mean that women are any less apt to endure low self-esteem than men but this is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about creating a personality that we wear—like a mask—for the public to see while keeping our “true” personality out of view.
For example, Carl Jung tells us that when some men marry that they project the mother image onto the wife and either becomes childish, sentimental, dependent, and subservient, or else truculent, tyrannical, hypersensitive, always thinking about the prestige of his superior masculinity. (As we all know, sooner or later after marriage we begin to expose our real natures to our mates; our true personalities. This is one reason that the first few years of marriage are called a period of adjustment).
What is being said in the above is that while we all, so to speak, put our best foot forward in social situations including romance, we simply can’t hide our frailties and faults for very long if we are living our daily lives with someone. This is a common reason why so many married people will say, “I sometimes feel I am living with a stranger.” This, however, is not an article only about the aspects marriage. This is an article that will attempt to lead the interested reader back to being fully and wholly a self while casting off the shackles of being deceptive to self and others.
This task begins with uncovering where our concepts and beliefs arrive from—all the stuff that forms the complex personality that we call…a self.
If any reader is not prepared to self-examine and contemplate him or herself in the world of others, he or she should not read further as this article probably will conflict with at least some of his or her certainties. With this in mind, we will make the overall statement that the world is not what you’ve been told that it is and, as the old axiom states, only the truth will set you free.
Concepts and Other Entrapments
I was reading awhile back that, under the Soviets, visitors to Russia were always accompanied by an official to keep the Russian people from outside influences. This was of course a system of keeping the people “in line” by not permitting their indoctrinations to be penetrated by outside information. While this sounds like terrible tyranny—and it was—it is not so far from how all governments and most religions maintain their populations. For example, the men who drove jet airliners into the Twin Towers were not born hating America and Americans. They were indoctrinated by the significant others in their lives who turned potentially good human beings into zealous monsters.
We are all subject to being enslaved by the concepts given us. This typically begins with our parents who indoctrinate us with the social mores and memes of their era by passing down their beliefs, values and morals to us, their children. As a result we spend most of our childhoods believing that our parents’ world is the world.
Because of this we simply believe what our parents tell us—if, for example, we are constantly told that we are lazy, stupid, clumsy, sloppy, bad and inadequate we will slowly take on those characteristics living up to those concepts given us. This is also true if we are called wonderful, talented; smart, good, neat and so forth. Later our teachers and preachers become additional authority figures in our lives.
This is a major reason why religions have their members baptize their infants in the faith—they not only grow their followers this way but begin their indoctrinations as early as possible. This reminds me of a Mormon friend that I had. He was forever preaching Mormonism to me so I asked him if he had ever studied other world religions. He said no, why should he when he already possessed the truth.
In this regard, this is the very reason that Hitler began indoctrinating children at ten years old in the concepts and ideologies of Nazism. Once a concept or dogma is accepted as truth by a person, it is projected into their reality as being real. For example, all racism and sexism are learned prejudices—no one is born hating anyone else because of their race, color or creed. These prejudices have always been born out of those two tyrannies, nationalism and religion.
We’ll return to the subject of the crazies who murdered so many innocent people on 9/11. Had they been born in Tibet or Maine or Paris and raised by different parents and given different religious/socio concepts they would never have conceived of such an absurd notion as a holy war much less being convinced that murder can be righteous.
The question then becomes how much of our own lives are enslaved by indoctrinations and the concepts given us by others and by traditions.
As long as we are “conditioned” we cannot be free.
The Mirrored Image
When we look in the mirror we might love ourselves or not even like ourselves but it is the self that is reflected as being thecenter. This is why we pay so much attention to our flaws. In our times advertising has convinced us of what we should look like
The irony is that we are taught, even by the most devoted and sincere parents and teachers, that being ourselves is never quite enough. We therefore mirror ourselves as inadequate no matter how much or little we accomplish. As a result we become enslaved to the concept of inadequacy which means we could be and do better. While it is quite impossible in any situation to do better than we have done since we can only do our best at the time of doing anything, we are nevertheless indoctrinated in the belief that we always fall short of perfection. This is especially true in capitalistic societies but nevertheless true in so-called civilization, world ‘round, in any case.
As a result we spend lifetimes in the absence of things; we mostly live in a world of the stuff we DON’T have. Like Samuel Beckett’s characters, we are forever “waiting for Godot.”
As far back as 200 B.C. Ericurus summarized this by saying, “The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live.”
We are always waiting to pay off the bills, to have the big house or car; to hit some jackpot before we imagine ourselves as being happy; as being able to (really) live. This is yet another reason why we mirror ourselves inadequate; we are seldom ever where we want to be.
When we stop and think about it, we “chain” ourselves to the concepts of lacking of doing without and being in need and yes, if you will, of the glass being forever half empty. We might give ourselves moments for celebration when we get the new car or move in to the better apartment but soon enough the newest wears off and we return to living in the absence of stuff again. And, by and large, when it comes to the world of homeless, hungry, suffering people we imagine them being outside our centers giving them labels like “unfortunate” or “sad,” those who we would help (if not save) if we were only better off ourselves.
Do not misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with wanting more or better, no one is advocating complacency here. What is being advocated, however, is to break free from the wanting and, if you will to wake up and smell the roses.
In the regard I remember interviewing the famous cancer surgeon, Bernie Siegel a few years back. He said. It is important for each of us to decide how we’re going to love the world.
There is secret about this, however. As long as anyone mirrors themselves unlovable their world becomes unlovable too. In fact, we can only love the world and others to the degree that we love ourselves. On the other hand, as soon as we can forgive the past and stop living for the future we free ourselves from the prison that exists between those two imaginary worlds.
The prison I am speaking of has millions of self-condemned prisoners—people who carry the weight of their pasts on their shoulders and the uncertainty of the future in their minds. When people like this look into the mirror they see despair and anxieties. As a result, they are most apt to retreat into the shadows of their own centers ready to surrender to or attack a hostile world. After all they live in a world expecting to be hurt, betrayed, rejected or, in the least, unloved.
It is probably safe to say that such negative expectations have persisted since their childhood but we won’t attempt to get into that. In any case, we have all known folks like this as they are quick to anger and quick to blame, nothing makes them truly happy although they may project a persona of being generous and loving; of being the good guy or gal personified!
The problem is that they are scornful of the self, mirroring themselves as hurting, betrayed, rejected and therefore unloved. They have not decided how to love themselves and so their world remains unloving.
The metaphor is that we see the world as we see ourselves.
By changing our minds about ourselves we change our world. Thus, a first lesson in being free is to look into the mirror and see the loving and lovable. No one has to be what others have told them they are or live up to their negative or positive expectations. The first step into freedom is to consciously stop…performing.
Who You Are Not
You are not what you own or what you do not own; you are not your wealth or your poverty; you are not your yesterdays; you are not even the body that you live in. There is a wonderful old poem written by Rachel Field that summarizes what I am attempting to tell you here:
My Inside-self and my Outside-Self
Are different as can be
My Outside-self wears gingham smocks
And very round is she,
With freckles sprinkled on her nose,
And smoothly parted hair,
And clumsy feet that cannot dance
In heavy shoes and square.
But, oh, my little Inside-Self—
In gown of misty rose
She dances lighter than a leaf
On blithe and twinkling toes;
Her hair is blowing gold, and if
You chanced her face to see
You would not think she could belong
To staid and sober me!
If we could see ourselves by looking within we would all be perfect and beautiful, loving and lovable. This is our true natures although our brains can distort and derange. For only one thing your brain believes that it is you. However, it as Dr. Paul Pearsall tells us, “.the ‘I’, the self, is much more than the reverberation of neurons and we are much more than what we ‘think’ we are. We are also what we believe, hope, feel, and sense. We can tell the brain not only what, but how to think.”
The brain, in fact, houses the ego and the ego is, beyond all else, a materialist. Indeed Eckhart Tolle explains this much better I can. He says: “As long as the egoic mind is running your life, you cannot truly be at ease; you cannot be at peace or fulfilled except for brief intervals when you obtain what you wanted, when the craving has just been fulfilled. Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. It needs to be both defended and fed constantly. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”
Until you can fully and wholly grasp this, you will remain trapped in your own center, the very thing that you must abandon if you are ever to truly be free.
The goal then is to permit your inside-self to manifest in your personality; exposing itself without fear of rejection or being hurt in any other way. This includes loving without the desire for reciprocation, helping without notions of being compensated; being at service without the motive of being compensated and to simply give without the aim for reimbursement. And, if you will, to treat others as you would be treated. None of these qualities are possible for the *ego driven individual.
None of the above suggests that you be saintly or turn into a holier-than-thou personality which are ever as egotistic as any other form of greed. On the other hand, what this suggests is for you to permit your true nature to be exposed and so, if you will, listen to your heart as opposed to your body/brain; and so to tear down the walls of your center and freely open yourself to the world.
You are not your ego or, perhaps better put, your ego is not you; your ego is a brain function that is, at root level, a protective component that motivates you to lock your doors at night, not to drink yourself into a stupor; to take care of your health, not to let people cheat or mistreat you and so forth. This, we can say is “good ego” but it is ego all the same which means it is a process of the physical brain. I dare not go into this further but the point remains that while “good” ego is necessary to have “bad ego” keeps you from your essence, the “I” of you that is both loving and lovable.
You can never be truly free or joyful as long as what we are calling “bad ego” manipulates your motives.
*I have used the term ego in the common meaning of the word and not the complex way Freud connects it with the id.
Persona, Personality, Joy and Freedom
We human beings, at root level, are frail. And, especially in our Western culture we are parentally and culturally taught to cover up (hide) that frailty. From the time we are quite young we have heard all the social warnings—trust few…make sure she/he isn’t using you…don’t be fooled…watch your back….read the small print…remember people are out for themselves and so on. And, the truth is, we live in a culture that is socially Darwinistic; a culture where traditionally management takes advantage of labor…employer over employee…rich over poor…strong over weak…bureaucracy over the individual…and only a few short decades ago it was male over female and white over black. In other words, there are discrepancies in our social justice and sense of fair play. We are far more apt to deem cold and hard business—good business as opposed to fair and compassionate business which is typically seen as weak in the overview of our culture.
As a result of all this self-centeredness we create persona selves that we wear as armor to stop others from seeing our real humanism. It is as Karl Menninger says: we wear “the masks of repression that have been forced upon us by convention and culture. It is this that leads us to shun intimacy, to maintain friendships on superficial level, to underestimate and fail to appreciate others less they come to appreciate us only too well.”
The hidden self behind the mask, however, is always a prisoner of the persona personality because he or she is never free to be fully and wholly themselves. They are instead condemned to constantly be the self-observer—Am I making the right impression…Am I looking cool...Am I being too aggressive…Am I being too passive and so forth. In this regard we can sometimes lose track of what we really are…our inside-selves or our outside-selves. And, there really are people who believe they are who they pretend to be.
The more “pretending” (we can call it role playing) that we do however the further we grow from the self and so the joys of simply being. As a result we are apt to be unloving and unlovable in the guises of being loving and lovable or, in other words, we base our love on conditions. I’ll love you and be nice to you as long as you…I’ll be loving as long as you’re loving and so forth. The cultural-socio metaphor of this is found in the phrase, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
Living in a world where dissemblance (putting on a false appearance) is an activity of the status quo, we all end up as players on Shakespeare’s world stage where we lose ourselves in the roles we portray. Because this is so, the path back to self—and therefore joy and freedom—is to deconstruct the persona and, in the doing, to demolish the invisible walls of the center we are used to living in, revealing the loving and lovable person who we began life being.
This can only begin with ridding ourselves of our indoctrinations and freeing ourselves from the concepts and ideologies we’ve deemed as “reality” and therefore to returning to the “I-am” of ourselves; the open and caring human being that we once were.
All this takes deconstructive insights into self and others in order to fruitfully deconstruct the delusions of certainty and to free ourselves, as much as it is possible, from cultural influences, religious dogmas and social ideologies.
None of this is saying that we human beings have but one true self only that the loving, lovable self exists in the essence of each of us. In this regard Eckhart Tolle tells us that it is through “the inner-body that we are forever one with God. He says, “The key is to be in a state of permanent connectedness with your inner-body—to feel it at all times. It is only when we are in this state that we are truly free and illuminated by joy.
Granted this is probably an article only for those who are seeking a new road to travel since the old road—as its opposite—is a highway of ideologies, mores and other cultural and religious indoctrinations; the stuff that, in a term, enslaves the mind.
The proposition is that we do not find freedom or joy in anything outside ourselves but already possess it within. The challenge is in the willingness to let loose of our learned concepts and therefore shed the fear of demonstrating our loving, lovable selves in our human action.
And finally, since we know that all information creating our prospective is a product of cultural-socio influences that our ultimate aim is to transcend them becoming fully and wholly our loving and lovable selves
Introduction: That we are a product of our own dissemination or, in other words, we make ourselves up as we go along.
Concepts and other Entrapments: That we are subject to our indoctrination.
The Mirrored Image: We imagine ourselves as being the physical image that we reflect and how we reflect ourselves is how we project the world to be.
Who We Are Not: We are not what we own or what we possess. We are not our flaws or frailties, our mistakes or faults. We are the “I,” (call it consciousness) within, where we are always both loving and lovable.
Persona, Personality, Joy and Freedom: Until we decide to deconstruct the concepts, ideologies and social memes that compose reality for us and choose to step out of the *center we can never be free or joyful.
*The assumption that there is a center is to live in a false reality in any case—the universal truth is that there is no center except in the constructs of the mind.
Brown, Norman O. * Life Against Death *Wesleyan
Jung, C. G. * Aspects of the Feminine *Princeton/Bollinger (Translator R.F.C. Hall)
Menninger, Karl * Love Against Hate *A Harvest Book
Nishida, Kitaro * An Inquiry Into the Good *Yale University Press
Tolle, Eckhart * The Power of Now *New World Library
If you enjoyed this article you will probably enjoy An Interview with God
or Mankind: The Story of All of Us
A Most Interesting Read
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