Pseudo Persona

 

By Sadhvi Nidhishree

 

The rose of affection
The dagger of deception
Veils all evil intentions
And conveys false impressions

Scarecrow, scarecrow, who do you scare?
On those who are filled with air.
What about those who don't have a care?
They'd scare me, but they're so rare.

The pseudo persona is much like disguise of a scarecrow. Sometimes we tend to behave like this scarecrow. A farmer put up  a scarecrow in his fields to help him protect his crops. He clad it in a kurta-pajama, gave it a human-like face and dressed it in flags and festoons. From distance it actually looked like a busy, colorful farmer. A wise man if it was not tried and so very bored of its monotonous posture. Did it not get scared by the vicissitudes of nature and a life of isolation? The scarecrow was quick to reply that it thoroughly enjoyed being a scarecrow because scaring birds and beast was so much fun that it compensated for nature's changing faces. If it were to project itself as its true self-that of a dummy - how would it ever know the sadistic pleasure of fooling and scaring others. Moreso, if birds and beasts realized it was a dummy, the game was over. The wise man agreed that to create and image of superiority in the eyes of others was indeed a rewarding experience - but only physically and short lived. The true reward was got only when it was possible to cast away this disguise and acknowledge it's true identity.

Another interesting story is that of a London photographer. He had displayed three portraits of the same person but with varying rates in his show window. The first portrait was priced at $ 5 depicting the person as he was. The second portrait price at $ 15 shows the person as he thought himself to be. The third portrait priced at $ 25 captured the person as he desired to be portrayed. Just then, a man entered his shop for a photograph to be taken. The gentleman was of a simple disposition having lived all his life in the countryside. On being shown the three portraits, the man got confused. He enquired as to why a person needed three portraits to be done of himself. On beings answered of the various conflicting personalities of a person, hence the varying prices, the man was even more bewildered. He settled for the $ 5 portrait , this time surprising the photographer. According to the photographer, he was probably the first man to have a natural portrait done on himself. Mostly, it was the $ 25 portraits that were much in demand. These deceptive portraits throw light on us as people. Anyone who wishes to be portrayed in a false but flattering manner can never make a true inward journey of self discovery. At best our perception is limited to the false external world.

My face to the world, my portrait
Hidden beneath are vicious traits
It becomes impossible to be straight
This portrait, a troublesome weight.

Life's tight rope twists and turns
Tugging our heartstrings as it churns
Unchaining shackles full of hurtful burns
And reach the light for which it yearns

Fame, popularity and a desire to be well known doesn't matter in what capacity - has become an urgency in our lives. The sooner, the better. Today, increasingly, this fame is like instant coffee. To maintain is longevity then becomes that much harder and tends to pull as deeper into the depths of our pseudo persona.

Sir Winston Churchill once gave a lecture in an American city. On seeing, such a audience, one of his colleagues commented that Churchill must indeed be very proud and happy at such a large turnout. Churchill, not one to be swept away by adulation, replied that had it been the day of his hanging, the turnout would be much larger, the applause louder and the excitement more feverish. What then, was the pride and joy in such and indiscriminate audience? Of what use was this fame and popularity which was not going to be a permanent feature in one's life?

The cognizance and understanding of oneself is a formidable task. Self assessment, realistically, is impossible till the constraints and bonds of individualism and pseudo personas do not slacken. This is comparable to a prisoner serving a life sentence. His only dream is to leave the prison walls as they are familiar territory to him-his haven and shield from the big bad world. Similarly, our programmed thoughts which have been cultivated over the years due to family, schooling and society in general, act as our shields, which we are reluctant to discard. Certain social norms have to be adhered to, even though the heart does not consent. As a social being it is necessary to keep up pretences. But, in doing so, we become so involved with the pretence, that the essential truth is lost. It also becomes difficult not to adhere to social pretences due to the sheer strength of numbers. No one wants to be the odd one out. He, whoever, does eventually transcends all barriers of the pseudo persona, thereby bringing to life his true person.

The innocence and subsequent conditioning of man starts early in childhood. Childhood is sinuous with innocence, truth, beauty and all things good and virtuous. The child knows no fear, greed, hatred, deception or any of these vices. It's conditioning, however, puts al these emotions into it. The child is born into a pre-determined situation. There is a way to live, a way to learn, a way to grow. For the child, its support systems are its  its Gods. Their teachings and conducts are accepted as the gospel truth. If these teachings are actually based on truth, then the child becomes a wholesome personality. If not, it fragments into a pseudo personality.

As the child develops into a youth, it too starts asserting itself and making itself heart in society. When its social surroundings acknowledge it, it too becomes caught in the world of pretences, thereby, losing all that it was born with. The degrees of course vary from persona to persona, but each one of us is a victim of this pseudo persona, this image of ourselves. How then, will that false eye see a beautiful vision of nature? Can a dried-up seed produce a sapling? Can a dry throat render a song.

The attachment to this pseudo personality lies in arrogance. This is visible in its tendency to create superior and inferior personalities. These comparisons are the inventions of a small mind. Every man is born to be himself and therefore as good as anyone else. But an egocentric man, finds only himself good enough and superior over all others. The desire to be better than another is of paramount importance. If falsely pad our ego and makes us feel larger than life.

Two gentlemen were sitting at a coffee house. Both were victims of this padded ego. The first one began recounting tales of his fishing experience. He said that he had caught many big and small fishes. Last week, however, he had the biggest of his life! He caught a fish weighing 60 pounds! His companion, not one to be outdone, stated that his fishing experiences had led him to have a prize catch of an old Greek lantern. This he said, was a genuine antique with the inscription of Alexander the great still on it. What was most fantastic about this statement was that the wick inside the lantern was still burning! The first one could not digest this and said that he was willing to decrease the weight of his fish, if his companion agreed to extinguish the wick of his lamp! This story highlights the extent to which we can go to make ourselves feel superior or to make another feel inferior.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who's the fairest of them all?
Today, this is a crucial call
For us - Alas! It leads to fall!

Chameleons change colour, only to survive,
Man does the same, only to connive
A chameleon rests when danger is abated
But man never rests even if berated.

Khalil Gibran had said that humans are essentially peaceable creatures. It was artificiality that was violent and unpleasant. However, emphasis on this artificiality,, decoration and showing off constitutes an important element of our lives. Today, is the age of artificiality. Outward pomp and show replace everything else. Out Gods, our heroes, our relationships, have all become artificial. Our humaneness has got lost in this era of glitter. Man is therefore unhappy - his soul has turned impure. We are all like diamond, waiting to be mined. The essential goodness is there within  each of us and in some strange way, we all know it. The diamond  hidden in the rock, covered in dust, has to undergo the metamorphic process. Only then will it be able to show its true luster. We are lie this hidden diamond. We must uncover this dust-filled cloak of artificiality. We must acknowledge this to ourselves and to the world at large, in order to shine. Only then, will we know our true worth.

To keep up pretences becomes difficult, The pursuit of reality is much easier. Each one is once a child, goes through youth, enters middle age and must see old age and death. The veneer of colored hair and a made-up face will become much too obvious as we get on in year. Pride in one's appearance is a good thing, but only to an extent. When it becomes an obsession, one actually believes that youth and beauty can be perpetuated. Cosmetic beauty must dull - but inner beauty always radiates. The quantum of artificiality in a person is in direct proportion to his level of  intelligence. So if you consider yourself really intelligent, jut decide on your share of artificiality!

My face is dimpled with laugh lines
But my soul is sour with brine
What should I do of this heart that pines
To make my laugh lines truly mines?

A man is like a diamond, 
Difficult to mine.
But, when it does emerge refined,
It's nature is to shine.

To begin with the process of self-discovery we must delve deep into the matter. We first have to admit to ourselves that are lives are superficial. The roots of this outward show, ostentation and pomp lie in the dependence of some motivating factors, some challenges, some experiences, some memories and some dreams. This dependence then becomes a way of self deception. Are we honest and bold enough to accept that we are unsuccessful, les intelligent, jealous greedy and suffer shame and guilt? We obviously cannot make these the roots of our dependence. So we invent our own set of roots of dependence - true to an extent but largely dressed with the arts of self deception. The more we deceive ourselves, the more powerful self deception becomes. As it gains power, we are given a booster of energy and capacity. this booster tends to lay the blame of falsity on others. To avoid this self deception means that we have no subject ourselves to a very strict discipline. Only then can we cut at the roots of self deception and ignorance.

Ostentation is a kind of self deception. We are ostentatious in our thoughts, our living and ourselves. WE create an image of ourselves and then try to mould ourselves into the frame. Deep down, we may be jealous, envious and angry at another's denounce such vices thereby actually denouncing ourselves. We project ourselves as full of love, caring and genuine sharing of another's joy. There is a proverb which says that if your share sorrow with another, it lightens and if you share joy with another it spreads. It is easy to partake in one's sorrow because the mind immediately rejoices - better you than me! But when it comes to joy, the plastic smile, the heavy heart and the jealous mind partake of it. The angry mind questions - why him? Why not me?

The play of light creates an illusion
The rope resembled a snake in this diffusion
Experience Truth to uncover this confusion
And makes your life a joyous explosion

The mask of diffusion
Uncovers eyes full of confusion.
Yet pretence is the order of the day,
Never mind, if life's full of dismay.

This situation is all too visible in our living. The idea is to project our self as "huge" even if you are actually "small". This is most obviously seen in the financially weaker segments of society. While inviting a guest over for dinner, almost all objects are borrowed - furniture, carpets, accessories and even the serving dishes. The idea is that the guest will only enter up to your  drawing room. The kitchen and bedroom tell another story. To add to all this, the host insist son proclaiming his well-being when asked a question about his health! acceptance of ourselves based on our false image is the only thing that matters. In the bargain, however, apart from cheating another we first cheat ourselves. Everything in our lives is borrowed-our impressions, our thoughts, our conducts and our speech.

We must wake up to this malady. If we do not, we can term ourselves as "mad". This feeding of the pseudo persona only increases the sickness. A small sore becomes a festering wound and then resides as a cancer in us. Life then, which should have been full of festivity, dance and joy becomes heavy, dull and full of dissatisfaction. The poet who is unsuccessful in love, writes heart rending poems on love. the one who is successful in love however, makes no exhibitions of it.

Another facet of the pseudo persona is the paradox between fear and valour. The weaker the person, the stronger his desire to prove his bravery. His acceptance amongst the tribe of brave (whether moneyed, beautiful, intellectual or famous) becomes his only goal in life. As a result he resorts to flattery. This can do wonders, open locks to hardened hearts and hidden treasures. It however, does not always lead to acceptance because essentially you remain what you are - even in the eyes of others.

This best illustrated in Aesop's fables of the lion and the donkey. The donkey's strong desire was to befriend the lion, the king of the jungle. Being gifted with the art of speech, the donkey gave long renditions, eulogizing the lion.. It lauded its strength, vitality and vigor. In fact, the lion was given the title of the king of the jungle by the donkey. The lion was mighty pleased and decided to appoint the donkey as his chief advisor.

One day, the two decided to go on a hunt. The donkey knew of a pasture where many sheep came to graze. He offered to take the lion there, promising him a sumptuous feast. It was decided that the donkey would distract the sheep so as to allow the lion to make them easy prey. The lion was only too happy to accede to donkey's plan. The donkey then approached the pasture and stomped his feet on great mounds of sand. Having created a mini sandstorm, the sheep ran helter skelter out of fright and became easy victims.

When the lion was busy gorging on its prey, the donkey came and enquired as to whether the lion was happy with his endeavors. The lion was, of course, more happy. He disclosed that the donkey had done such a brilliant job, that even he had got unnerved. He had to literally stop himself from running away. Remembrance of the fact that it was only a donkey who was raising the storm helped him to remain grounded.

This only goes to show that flattery only helped the donkey befriend the lion. It could not alter his status of that of a donkey. For the lion, he still remained an utter ass. To be fully accepted, you must first accept what you essentially are. If you desire to achieve something, you must achieve it on your own terms and the realization that it is best for you. Not on the basis of making you feel superior or wanted. Acceptance by another does not matter at all, for those who have to accept you, accept you anyway.

The one's who truly possess valour, strength and beauty are not exhibitionists. If reflects naturally on them. A beautiful woman needs no adornments. The sparkle of the diamond cannot compete with the sparkle of her lively eyes. The many layered personalities of a person is comparable to an onion. To unravel the mystery of man you would have to remove the numerous skins of the onion. At the end you are only left with the small seed. This seed of which we are born. Why then did we shroud ourselves with these layers?

 

Life's onion must peel
So that it can reveal
The beauty inside to feel
A person of true appeal.

The lotus with it roots deep in slush
Yet managing to keep its tender lush
Beckons us to slow our frenzied rush
And pour forth beauty, a silent gush.

 

This multi-diversified personality is best explained in Lord Mahavira's teachings. He is emphasized that man possesses many faces. The actions done by these many faces is like collecting water in a sieve. In the end only the sieve remains-the water has all drained out. It not only tells of our false actions but also of the weary toll it takes on us. We become like dry and wilted flowers, when our nature was to have flowered.

It takes a single truth to destroy all lies. Our foundation in truth, but our home is built lies. If you have the courage to a life of truth, then the entire edifice of lies will crumble. Truth needs no anchor, it is an anchor in itself. You just need to get anchored to it and direct the flow of your life towards it. The many faces you have worn will get worn away automatically. The pseudo persona will dissolve into a person-true, strong, wise and beautiful.

About The Author : Sadhvi Nidhishree was born in Bombay in a business family. She did schooling in Bangalore. Whilst studying to become a doctor she radically transformed when asked to become a "doctor of the soul". She joined ascetic order in 1982.

Compilation By : Ms. Nandita Jain, 14, Alipur Road, Civil Lines, Delhi-110054.

 

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Source: 'Pseudo Persona' By Sadhvi Nidhishree

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