June 14, 2007


This post is as a result of a series of exchanges between Suchitra and me. During the course of the conversation, we came upon a topic, which on her request I am reproducing here with some minor alterations.

The question that is being asked is what to do when we notice that people are destroying the image that they hold of themselves at the feet of someone else. Is there a way that one should react to the same?

In case there is something that needs to be held as dear as the self, is it then better not to have that precious thing at all, not to find it at all, let it sleep? Rather than have it, and struggle to safeguard it, would it not be better to go with a time-tested route, and not lose anything?

My take on this is simple.

There cannot be a reaction to such a situation. In case one wants to do something about it, the only thing is pre-emptive action. Actually, I really do not care if the self of others is destroyed. For me, if one is not able to safeguard what should be their most treasured commodity, then they do not have the right to have it in the first place.

The ultimate aim of any man is and has always been peace. There are two ways that a man can reach that peace. He can either understand what he is looking at thereby find peace. Or else, he can suspend that desire to understand and therefore not be bothered by it.

To the sane mind, the second possibility should sound very insane. The reason I say this is because the ability to think is what makes us humans in the first place. If it were not employed, if that faculty was ignored, not made use of, is there anything that separates us from the dogs, cats and all the other animals and plants that coexist in the same world?

Moving from the concept of self for sometime, I will try to throw some light upon why does a man claim a thing as his own. By doing this, I shall try to show why are there different levels of possessiveness for things that a man claims his own.

There are two instances when a man claims something as his own. The first is when he has been given something. This can be a gift or an inheritance. It is when he did not have to do anything to get that. He has it because he is alive. In such a circumstance, the receiver will know heart of heart that he has done nothing to have possession of that. In such a circumstance, he will know that as it comes so will it go. This means that the amount of possessiveness, though present, will be less.

The other thing is something for which he has toiled. The very fact that he has toiled to get this means that he wanted it in the first place and then when he got it, it is so important to him that he will over possessive about it. This can be anything ranging from a book, to the all-important self.

The concept of the self is the latter. One develops a strong idea of the self only after having gone through tremendous amount of psychological trauma and having literally walked through fire. This means that the person will be so possessive of this that no one can come close.

The logical question is why does one have to toil for the concept of self? The answer is because no one is born with it and no can learn of it from others. The only way that one can understand the concept of self is either by realizing it or by losing it and then finding it out.

This comes to the question why it is this important. I shall ask one in retort. How long can one be someone they are not? How long can one live of the ego of others?

Everyone has some amount of self-importance, the feeling that he is someone in the whole jigsaw puzzle of life. Every time they acknowledge the fact that, they have taken someone else’s ego to make themselves feel better, they shall lose some of that self importance. It is but natural that after some time, that shall start telling them, “Enough is enough. It does not matter how difficult it is but start acknowledging the fact that you are as important as anyone else. Even if you are not as successful, even if you are not as beautiful, even if you are not as brilliant, you are you and that makes you unique.”

When this happens, it is natural for them to start developing their concept of “I”.

When one lets it sleep, they are putting themselves to mud. They are telling the world in not so many words that they are scum and that they do not deserve to live.

There is no time tested routine. There is no path that has been walked on previously. Even if someone has been on this, one will not know unless they are on that path themselves. That means that they have already made that choice before they know who else has either made the choice now or had made that choice in the past. Therefore it is not possible to let it sleep.

When you ask me this, if it is not better to let the self, sleep, think of what it means to let that precious thing sleep. It means that you yourself deny your right of being yourself. If you are not you, then who are you? What is your identity?

Think to live,
Understand to think,
Know to understand,
Search to know,
Yourself, search.


Lazy Lavender said...

This question reminds me of something I read about a year back, "Kill the thing that you love the most". I think it was in "The Valkyries" by Paulo Coelho; I don't really remember. I think I even talked to you(the author) about it.

Anyways, my question is simple. Once someone has developed the concept of self, once someone gets the maturity of having a "self", call it ego, or esteem, or respect or any name it goes by, why would the problem of being destroyed by others arise? Struggle to safeguard - safeguard one's idea of oneself? From whom? And why? I mean, where does the concept of the self getting destroyed come? Sorry to say, you're not very clear about these destructive forces or their modus operandi. If safeguard comes with the meaning of "defending", I ask, where does the "offense" come from? Aren't we the ones that are involved with our self? And even in case there of offenders, why is the safe-guarding a struggle?

This putting oneself to sleep, and letting the world take one along only reminds me of "The Stranger" by Albert Camus. And do tell me in case I got the post all wrong.

BTW, what happened to the title?

Lazy Lavender said...

I guess there was some prob with my browser.. I couldn't see the title "Identity" when I fist read the post.