Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Menacing “ME” – A short essay



The Menacing “ME” – A short essay

The need to constantly assert oneself in every situation is the heaviest burden that we carry around most of the time. It becomes almost unbearable. From the time we wake up, every act needs a persona to enact it - as a Son, A Father, A professional, a friend, a citizen; the list is endless. It is almost as if we are ashamed of ourselves being utterly naked, and the compulsive need to become socially acceptable has become almost a neurotic obsession.  No wonder, we keep often keep slipping into a somnambulistic state of depression and constantly attempting to pull ourselves up, by tugging at our shoes laces. It is a self-defeating act. No matter how hard we try and how competent we are in “acting up”, there are those deep evanescent moments in time, when the dress slips and we are forced to look at ourselves as we are.  To most of us, this can be an unnerving experience; because all that we have “stood” for, or tried so assiduously nurture and preserve, suddenly seems so transient and ridiculous. These can be true moments of liberation, but we miss it due to fear of being annihilated and ostracized from the make believe world that we  have surrounded ourselves with.

I was reading Joseph Campbell’s wonderful book named “ The Hero with a thousand faces”,  where he talks about the archetypal man receding  to a state of aloneness and wilderness in search of himself and then returning to the world firmly balanced and rooted to his self. The story of Buddha is illustrative of this condition. Having witnessed the misery of human life caught in the throes of psychological pain, destiny summoned Siddhartha and transferred his center of gravity from the pale zone of society to a terrain unknown – a place of strange fluidity and impossible delight. Men can go there of their own volition, as the Greek heroes Theseus or Odysseus did: as a casual adventure; when the passing phenomena of life lures them away from habituated paths of man and nudges them into a discovery of their own true selves, with nothing more than a passing hint or a subtle clue into the deepest paradoxes of life.
Obviously, We do not have to be heroes to undergo this transformation. Our everyday life affords us enough episodes of deep insight which can be opportunities to “lose” ourselves in contemplation of something seemingly mundane –the passing beauty of an ephemeral flower, the sudden whiff of a delicately intoxicating scent, the elegant poise of a lady walking with ineffable grace down the street, the innocent rollicking smile of a child playing in abject dirt, the feline grace of a cat cuddled up on the bed, A casual moment of peace in a busy day at work:  All these moments can be a trigger to descend into the abyss of our own selves.  Just being; without being something is the greatest blessing.

Having said this, the masks that we put on socially are important, but the point is that they have a place and a time. Education should ideally teach us the art of unmasking. Psychologists have also documented enough evidence about “near death experiences”, which bring about such a change in the inner fulcrum of one’s life.  It has also been the tasks of myths in every religion to supply the necessary symbols to make this transition. In fact, we may be bold enough to venture that, as adults, we have lost the mystery of live that so captivated us in our childhood. The stories of mythical heroism emphasize and value the need to descend into our subterranean depths before ascending to normal forms of living. Professor Arnold Toynbee in his epic six –volume study of the rise and fall of Human societies make reaches an important conclusion that there is a need for constant renewal ( paligenesia) within every social body; otherwise, nemesis is wrought. And this renewal and rejuvenation can only be bought about within individuals who are open to be psychologically dismembered, resurrected and reborn as an organic whole and in tune to dance with the cosmic symphony.

So long……….

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