August 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Developing a sense of identity is a process of determining who you are and who you are not. Much of this goes on in your formative years of childhood and is learnt from parents, siblings, culture, and religion, and then later from your own experiences as you meet the world head on. During these latter experiences some earlier beliefs will fall to the wayside as untenable. This is natural as it becomes necessary to deal with the world through the eyes of an adult instead of a child. Images of yourself that are no longer workable may, however, be hard to dislodge when you are particularly fond of them, such as being “good”, “right” or “popular” and “attractive”.
When you hold onto a cherished ideal that doesn’t really work you eventually bang straight up into reality. This is a logical consequence of using unworkable ideas. And if you insist that it is the world that has to change to suit you, then you’ll eventually find that banging sound you hear is that of your own head against a brick wall. Of course, with our present technological society it does appear we can shape the world to our liking. But if you look closer at the ecological disaster awaiting us you’ll see the fallacy of our present way of thinking.
The ability to accept the world for what it is and adapt to it is a necessary physiological and psychological survival mechanism. If our ancestors didn’t adapt humanity wouldn’t be around today. When you don’t adapt you suffer psychologically. The extent of the suffering is dependent on how out of whack you are with the universe and how out of harmony you are with your Self.
On a societal level it could be argued that each one of us has a responsibility to ensure we and our neighbors live in harmony. For this reason laws were created and rules of society enforced. When those rules and laws are equitable and fair then society gets along and people flourish. When they are not, society becomes oppressive and people suffer. A society must live in harmony with itself as much as with the world if it is to survive.
On an individual level it could be said the responsibility to self lies in being happy within society. That is to say, outer happiness should not be at the expense of others, where others include people, animals, plants and the planet at large. Socially and psychologically this level of happiness is also dependent upon how healthy the ego is. It is dependent on whether ideas about your self are realistic and work in dealings with others and the world at large.
Conversely, on a spiritual and mystical level inner happiness is dependent on letting go of the ego altogether. It is a direct consequence of giving up all ideas of self in order to realize Self. Although outer and inner happiness appear to be incompatible, closer examination shows there is no inconsistency. Outer happiness depends on a willingness and ability to change the self-image when old ideas no longer work. Inner happiness just takes this process of adaptation to its logical end where it is realized that all ideas about self are false and therefore ultimately unworkable. The spiritually evolving person therefore lets go of all views of self. She lets go of the ego.