'WHO ARE YOU? WHO – WHO, WHO - WHO?'
(With acknowledgement to ‘The Who’ and their song, composed in 1978)
WE ARE NOT WHO WE THINK WE ARE! NOR ARE OTHERS WHO WE THINK THEY ARE!
Really? What about that ‘idiot’ who cuts in front of us?
What about the mother-in-law who insists on running your life?
Or the boss who takes all the credit for your work, giving you none? Or the one who makes surreptitious sexual advances and presents to others ‘as pure as the driven snow’?
Or the white, privileged, male racist?
And the black, privileged, female racist?
And the black, underprivileged, female druggy derelict?
And the white, underprivileged, male druggy derelict?
What about the [fill in this space]?
Get to the guts of your intense dislikes, distastes, prejudices, hate even – your rage about them, those, that or it.
Yes, and maybe by now, about me too – my crassness, my ignorance displayed in what you are reading here. Go for it!
But please hold off with discarding this essay until you’ve read to the end. It might be worth your while.
Let’s make a difference in the world, together – a contribution to the common good.
WHO ARE YOU? WHO – WHO?
In a nutshell: we are each, a perfectly flawed human being doing the best we can see to do at any moment in time.
Why is that? The cause is simple, and the outcome complex.
If you have been battling through my essays or read my book, Possibility … a state of mind, you will understand the concept of our two states of awareness. But in case you are new to this perspective, here’s a summary.
One state of awareness is the source of our experience; the other state, the result of our experiences.
The state of mind that is the result of our experiences is the one from which we (mostly) experience who we believe we are. It is also the one from which we think we know who others are.
It is our conditioned mind.
That state contains the sum of our life experiences: those that are consciously recalled and, equally, those upon which we unconsciously act – the hidden context of our life. It’s that state of mind that has us cutting off others in traffic, and it’s the state from which we abuse those that cut us off.
It’s the mind that judges and is opinionated. Our ‘know it all’ state. It is home to our accumulated beliefs about everything – the state of mind through which we (in the main) see our world. Our conditioned state is that with which we identify. I refer to that state, for sound reasoning, as our state of ‘impossibility’.
That state, however, is not who we truly are. It is not our authentic or true self.
You may already understand why I use the word ‘impossibility’ but, if not, a brief explanation follows.
NO CHILD IS BORN A RACIST, OR ANY OTHER LABEL WE MIGHT USE – OTHER THAN ‘HUMAN BEING’
We learn to be racist – are conditioned – groomed to be racist. [Mostly it happens without the intention of our teacher – the one modelling that behaviour.]
Put a group of one-year-olds in a room together – black, white, olive, brown, or any mixture thereof – and they will play and interact with no heed whatsoever to skin colour. Some will play gently, some roughly, some will be withdrawn, others outgoing, some will share, and others will not. Each will have his/her own unique and developing personality. None will be a racist. Yet!
Nor will any be Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, Agnostic.
Nor will any be left-wing, right-wing or don’t-give-a-toss-wing.
No. Although the process will have begun, no child aged one will have developed, to any entrenched degree, their beliefs, opinions, or judgments. These limitations come with time, shaped by everything each child experiences – sees, hears, touches, tastes, and smells – as they grow.
BECOMING RACIST – OR ANYTHING ELSE, FOR THAT MATTER
We are animals with a more evolved brain. This brain enables us to think in ways, it would seem, that are more advanced and complex than our fellow animals. But our ‘superior’ mind comes with some pitfalls.
The process, for each of us, of becoming who we believe we are – i.e. our state of impossibility – usually occurs as follows:
- Our brain enables us to learn and behave in human ways – including some not very attractive ways.
- We create, in that process of learning, our reality – a reality unique to each of us.
- No two humans share, or can ever share, the same reality.
- Our reality reflects our way of experiencing life and everything in our life.
- Our mind becomes conditioned and we, without realising, become an innocent prisoner of that conditioning.
- We become lost in that thicket of our experiences, and we live in and from that personally created reality.
- It is a reality that spans the spectrum of our humanness – the so-called; good, bad and indifferent.
- Our personal reality is the sum of our beliefs, opinions, judgments and knowledge.
- That conditioning becomes ‘our truth’ – or, more dangerously, ‘the truth’.
- As said, each human being’s reality is unique – as unique as our fingerprints or DNA.
- Our reality might be that of a racist. It might be that of a pacifist. It might be what some call the mind of a ‘good’ person, or what some call the mind of a ‘bad’ person.
- If we fail to see our conditioning for what it is, we may contribute some goodness to the world, but we fail to serve the broader common good – no matter how laudable we might think our personal beliefs and contributions are.
- If we are of a ‘strong’ personality and in the thrall of a strong belief, we may become a racist, a zealot, a terrorist.
None of the foregoing represents who we are at our essence. It describes how we are conditioned to be. What follows explains how we can rise above that conditioned state of mind.
HOW DO WE TRANSCEND OUR RACISM OR ANY OTHER UNLOVING, UNKIND CONDITIONING?
How do we see beyond our racism (or any other counterproductive thinking) and into the realm of Possibility (with a capital P)?
To recap: our human faculty of thinking, from the moment we come into the world, conditions our mind. Even so, we humans – you and I – can still see beyond our current personal reality, our lifelong accumulation of beliefs, opinions, judgements and knowledge.
We can come to recognise our conditioned mind for what it is: a learnt accumulation of IDEAS WE ARE INDUCTED WITH, OR QUITE INNOCENTLY PIECE TOGETHER FROM OUR ENVIRONMENT.
And further, we can come to realise that our knowledge – even knowledge based on the best education available to the finest minds – is merely the best knowledge available at any point in humankind’s history. We can come to understand that it is the best we know now, but it’s not ‘the truth’.
We can transcend our conditioning and access original Thought (with a capital T). That is, we can see beyond our accumulated learning (our ‘truth’ of any matter) and see Possibility.
We recognise, in those insightful moments, our racist thinking as the ill-informed, destructive belief it is.
We see, in those precious, transformative moments, into a non-personal reality of oneness with Life. Our sense of separation and division evaporates – we are at one with our world.
WHAT DOES ACCESSING ORIGINAL THOUGHT – THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY – MEAN TO US AND THE WORLD?
We are set free from the shackles of our conditioning.
Our prejudices, biases, bigotries, chauvinisms, intolerances, injustices, partisanships are dissolved by the love, understanding, wisdom and common sense inherent in our core being – the Realm of Possibility.
Consequently, and more broadly, we realise, without ambiguity, that without changing, humanity faces a questionable future – environmentally, economically, physically and socially.
We become a citizen of the world – not just of a specific country – race – religion – or belief system.
We understand from personal experience that our awareness of Possibility is not something anyone needs to acquire: we already have it. Possibility is part of us. It is who we are, and it’s who others are. It’s our natural gift of understanding our self and our fellow humans.
We understand that, with a more in-depth investigation, each of us can discover exactly where it’s hidden and how we access it.
We realise, most importantly, that in transforming our self, we transform our world.
And the world heals, as we do.
Warmly … John
25 July 2020