Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Last night, I saw a documentary on the comic actor, director, and producer Mel Brooks.  At one point, he says that his comedy comes from knowing how much we each love ourselves.  I suppose it could be added that comedy arises because we love ourselves and don't really know it -- because comedy requires a disjunction of some kind. 

Adyashanti interprets the Biblical passage, "Love another as yourself" not as it's usually interpreted -- as an admonition -- but as simply a fact:  because we are in fact one, we cannot do other than love others as ourselves.  But perhaps the more usually interpretation also is profound because in fact, we usually are not aware of how very much we do love ourselves.

We are taught very early that being narcissistic is bad.  This is part of socialization.  "Don't take all the cookies for yourself:  give Johnny half of them."  If we weren't taught that, I don't know if we would learn it anyway as our brains matured, or not.  But the way that lesson is conveyed can make a difference.  The nonverbal message, "You are a selfish pig," can easily be slipped into the overt message about sharing.  And then we start to dislike ourselves.

I'm not sure it's that simple, but it is patently observable that babies love themselves, so self-hate seems to be learned.  And once we learn that we should not even be dedicated to our own selves, all hell breaks lose.  We worship others or ideas outside ourselves, and at the same time we hate anything in the world which seems to reflect our own self-hate.

Really, all love starts right here at home, in my own heart, and it starts with loving myself.  And if I can't do that, nothing else I do is going to benefit anyone. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Two Kinds of Unity

Lately, I've been thinking about two different psychological processes.  One is the process of identification with others.  For example, children identify with their parents.  As young adults, we often identify with someone we admire, or even worship.  But although the admiration is conscious, the identification is less so.  Thus, we may find ourselves adopting ideas and attitudes of this people even when those ideas and attitudes have nothing to do with the reason we originally admired them.  It is as though we unconsciously imagine that if we become like them, we will also acquire the wisdom or beauty they have.  And once the psyche really does believe that these attitudes are its own, it is virtually impossible to un-do the process, even when it becomes clear that those ideas or attitudes don't serve us. 

The second kind of unity is when we realize that we in fact are one with someone (or everyone) already, that it is our basic nature.  In this kind of unity, the self doesn't take in something from the outside; rather, it sees itself in a new, expanded way.  Oh, I'm so much larger than I ever imagined!  It's as though the self, instead of taking attitudes or characteristics in from the outside to make itself bigger, realizes that it already is infinitely large and doesn't need any additions.

And, I suppose that the motive for the former process could be said to be the desire for the latter.  That is, we want to be larger than we experience ourselves, and if the only way we can imagine to do that is to identify with others, then that is the way we will do it.  But it never satisfies; only the second kind of unity satisfies.