Mirror Image: Ego and intellect wreck the innocence of the self

The mirror reflects both the outward physical disposition and also the inner personality and beauty, writes Ravi Valluri.

Let us pause for a moment, and visualise the statues of Gautama Buddha, the commonality in them. They may be in Lotus pose, Namaste or reclining posture; however, he sports a calm, contented look and a beatific smile. Why is that so?

Upon attaining enlightenment, on annihilation of his ego the Buddha could maintain his freedom, poise and innocence which could perhaps best be captured by amirror image.This was several centuries ago but reality will never be transfigured. It was true of the Buddha and is true of any genuine or an enlightened soul.

Meanwhile in the tumultuous pace of the world today a trendy and effervescent middle aged couple flush with affluence, accompanied by their sprightly daughter loaded with bottles of coke, cups of coffee and chips walked into an apparel storebefore catching the latest Bollywood movie in a multiplex.

The trio were horrified looking at their bloated images in the trial room. Years of partying, reckless eating and some moderate to practically no exercise took agrievous toll on their bodies. Their faces were careworn, and instead of being jaunty and cheery the family appeared cloudy and lethargic. Baggy eyes, dark circles and ever expanding waistlines werea giveaway. They struggled to fitinto a pair of jeans and T-shirts. Sales boys and girls simpered and perforce faced the dudgeon of the family. This is inevitable when humans are in love with their ego and intellect and not their true self. Ego and intellect wreck the innocence of the self.

As children we have all been told the simple but poignant fairy tale about Snow White. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” The plot and other similar fairy tales are not merely about fairies, goblins, trolls, witches and gnomes but are case studies in human psychology. The witch is covetous of the little, innocent princess and her harried mind incessantly plots evil designs to jettison the princess’ happiness, indeed her life.

The mirror reflects both the outward physical disposition and also the inner personality and beauty. The spectre of endless plotting, tactics, planning and strategizing in order to succeed under all circumstances, anyway, results in humans losing theirobjectivity,innocence and balance. What we see in the mirror is an iniquitous personality in place of the beatific and serene smile of the Buddha. We are judged not just by good looks but by exemplary character too. The mirror captures both seamlessly.

Buddha says, ‘You can search throughout the universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You love yourselfas much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.’

In in the real world the position is quite contrarian. Humans expect to receive endearment from others and in thebargain beginneglecting themselves. They try too hard to grab eyeballs of othersforgetting that loving one’s own self comes before loving others. Humans cannotselflessly love any animate orinanimate object withoutunderstanding their own mind and psyche. Therefore it is paramount to take a hard look at one’s own mirror image as we cannotmasquerade our true self in the reflection.

A Zen teacher lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day fourtraveling monks surfaced and asked if they could make a fire in his yard to remain warm and stave off the biting cold of the winter.

While they were building the fire, the Zen Master heard them arguing aboutcerebral concepts like subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them andventured, “There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?”

One of the monks replied, “From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I reckon that the stone is inside my mind.”

“Your head must feel very heavy,” observed the teacher, “if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind.”

The mind of the monk was inveigled in predictable patterns and he wasoperating from merely an intellectual plane without appreciating the trueessence of the teachings of Buddha. As the mind was not free, the mirror could capture the hardened ego and intellect of the monk. The monk was overflowing with information but did not blossom with truth and knowledge.

Emotions and avarices such as anger, arrogance, greed,jealousy, lust, obsession, attachments and entanglements stick like glue to our minds. This coagulates our egos and humans adopt unbending positions. Such stances are espoused and become inflexible over a period of timeas our intellect and not superior intelligence cloud the delicate innocence which is within all of us. This predisposition thwarts both our physical and metaphysical growth process.

The image in the mirror reveals the truth;however much we may run away from this reality.

The family which visited the multiplex was saddled with 3C’s- coke,coffee and chips. The mirror image would be a horrific and asymmetrical one. Let us contrast this with a calm, clear and composed picture. This does not imply that a householder or the family in contention needs to give up on materialistic pursuits. It is just projection of positive thoughts which can dramatically change the mirror image.

Buddha further says, ‘We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.’

For the mirror image to be as perspicuous,humans while adopting the modern life style, need to remain focussed and be in the present moment. It should lead such a life that the mind harbours no guilt or regrets.

The mind needs to be as innocent as that of a child and develop the qualities and characteristics of a beginner. It should clearly know as to what to do, what it wishes to achieve and not be dragged down by unwelcome botheration. One should be wary of being wheedled into complacency, cajoling or corruption. In such a scenario we view our true self in the mirror and not a morphed image.

The image in the mirrorbecomes pristine when the demons in the mind pave way for angelic innocence.

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