The Mirror of Truth
It is only when we shatter all mirrors that represent a false image of us that we will see ourselves in the mirror of truth. The person we perceive ourselves to be is not glimpsed through a glass darkly but through the looking glass of our own twisted perceptions. Must we break ourselves apart in order to see every part of ourselves, or is it enough to merely break the mirrors of our perceptions?
A man whose spirit has been broken, should he manage to transcend this, will oftentimes be more likely to see himself as he is than the man who has never suffered. For through anguish, we gain clarity. We may wish to imagine that clarity is something that comes from reading, learning, and studying. But in reality, these things must be backed up by experiences that have enhanced our insight in order for us to benefit. To gaze in wonderment at the beauty and mystery of the universe or to reach a state of genuine humility may be things that can only be strived for until we, in addition to our mirrors, have been shattered.
Many of us live our lives with the philosophy that the more we can circumvent the consequences of our ignoble actions, the more clever we have been. When we wish to find an excuse to justify our reprehensible behavior, we attempt to convince others that we could not control ourselves. We imply that we are “unbalanced” in order to be absolved of our transgressions and indiscretions. Yet make no mistake—we are the driving force within ourselves. Though we are quick to attribute our objectionable conduct to other people and outside circumstances, we are eager to take full credit when we behave in an exemplary manner.
We claim to live within the age of reason. But we let our self-deception hurl us into an attitude of hypocrisy and self-importance that completely obscures our rationality. We mouth the words of Kant’s famous saying, “Live your life as if your every act were to become a universal law.” Yet we live like hedonists.
We complain that we feel alienated from humanity when we have brought this alienation about through our own behavior. How? By thinking only of what living in our own shoes is like, while giving little or no thought to what walking in someone else’s shoes might entail.
Although we say we want love, friendship, affection, and camaraderie, we oftentimes envy those who possess that which we don’t. We are anxious to make a grand show of our support for those who are more fortunate than us. Yet deep within, we experience a feeling of resentment. How dare others have succeeded where we have failed we lament !
Then we are baffled by the fact we are unhappy. Are we not only ignorant but foolish as well? Whenever we are false to ourselves, saying we want one thing while secretly working for something else, we will never experience happiness. We say we want to be a “good” person. But most of us merely want the benefits that good behavior would bring us. Some of us yearn for sainthood, though it is a sainthood bereft of good works.
Yes, of course, we want love. But if we had our way, it would be a love that required only a small amount of effort on our part. And there is always the fear, lurking deep within us, that the love we give to someone else might not be reciprocated adequatedly. With this excuse, we are easily freed from loving anyone at all.
As for friends, we want only those who tell us what we want to hear and who are no more successful or fulfilled than we are. We are both vain and hypocritical. But we abhor those who see these qualities in us because it is more important to us what others think of us than it is what kind of person we truly are. .
What does it require for us to rip off the blindfold of self-deception and gaze into the looking-glass at our true selves? Do we find the solution in philosophy . . . in religion . . . in the theories of Freud or Jung? Or is it possible that Cioran was right when he wrote these words: “Deliverance, if we insist upon it, must proceed from ourselves: no use seeking it elsewhere, in a ready-made system or in some Oriental doctrine.”
The problem lies within our belief that we secretly possess all the answers already. Our pride has convinced us that we can dispense with all morality and virtue and live by our own set of rules. We see ourselves as the spider who awaits the prey and attribute all sorts of powers of bewitchment and entrapment to ourselves.
Yet the irony of this is that we are actually our own prey. We prey upon our souls for we go against that which nature intends for us to be. We look upon virtue with scorn because vice is more enticing. Why is that? Because it provides us with the liberty we need to live as we like. But like vanity, vice also obscures our vision for it removes our capacity to control our passions.
Nietzsche, with his usual hubris, once declared, “What does not destroy me makes me stronger.” What Nietzsche did not take into consideration is that we are often intent on destroying ourselves. And how can the man who continues to destroy himself be made stronger?
Strength is to be gained in overcoming destruction—not in continuing the process of it. Yet, we spend so much time focusing on the ways in which life has been unfair to us that we rarely understand how much of our pain has been caused by our attempts to destroy ourselves. Vanity convinces us that we cannot have been the instigator of our own torment. And vice beguiles us into believing that, even if we have, we could not help it. Then pride, which in a state of passion will always overcome our reason, tells us that no matter what we did, we were right.
But what does the mirror of truth reveal to us? Do we dare to unmask ourselves in order to find out?
Peace, Love, and Joy,
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This page and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2010 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved