It Is An Identity Crisis
To learn about a thing, we, for the most part, observe it. When observing a thing we always find that it has primary and secondary characteristics. In yogic terminology, just so you know, primary characteristics are known as svarupa lakshana while the secondary characteristics are known as tatastha lakshana. Primary characteristics are the qualities that are constant. Secondary characteristics are the qualities that are transient, impermanent.
When observing ourselves, we find that there are two parts to us: primary and secondary.
Secondary part is transient. So what is it about us that is transient, impermanent, and changing? Our hair, skin, bones, organs, shape, size, likes and dislikes, taste, mind, etc. are some of the things about us that are transient. I am sure you could probably think of bunch more. All those changing characteristics indicate the secondary self.
The primary part is constant. What is it about us that is constant? That which observers the changes is the constant thing. It remains the observer throughout all phases, throughout all the changes. It observers them. That is the soul. The soul, the conscious self, observes the body limbs, the activities of the mind, the activities of the intellect, it observers everything. The observer, the soul, is the constant self, the primary self. Our eyes, and other information-acquiring tools, gather data about the world outside ourselves, but the eyes don’t read, interpret, and understand it. It is the primary self, the conscious self, the soul, who performs that function.
A good indicator about the primary nature of the primary self is the fact that any or all aspects of the secondary self could be pleased and satisfied, yet the self may not be satisfied. Without satisfying the primary self, no one becomes a satisfied person.
Problems arise when we treat the secondary self as the primary, or when we treat the primary self as the secondary! Primary self should be of the primary importance and the secondary self should be of the secondary importance.
Secondary self tends to decay – memory fades and the bodily beauty brakes down. Just try not to wash your body for a week and see what it turns into. Its inside will come out. Have you ever looked to see what is it like on the inside? No, you have not? Search youtube for a video of an autopsy if you dare. You will get to understand the meaning of the saying “Beauty is only skin deep.”
THE LYING PROCESS
There is a saying, “If you lie once, you will have to continue to lie.”
Because lies are not in sync with reality. That is a basic definition of a lie. Therefore, after saying a lie, you have to continue to make artificial arrangements in order to coverup the lie, to make it look like a truth, to make it fit in with the rest of the creation. This process is troublesome, disturbing, and painful.
Here is an example. Physical body is not beautiful and it is not the primary self. But because we artificially promote it, in our minds, to the position of the primary self, we have to cover up the fact that it is actually ugly. Thus you will find girls, when pictures are taken of them, trying to make their lips look fuller and more sexy by pressing them together and pushing them out. They will buy bras that enhance the shape of their breasts, wear clothing that will cover up the “imperfections” etc. What the heck are they doing? They are telling lies. Even though their lips are thin, their breasts and backsides flat, they are trying to lie about it and make it all look the way in reality it just doesn’t look.
You can imagine the embarrassment when the truth is exposed. What is really embarrassing is not the fact that the girl may have thin lips and flat breasts. It’s embarrassing that she’s been trying to lie the world about it.
I remember when I was a teenager, a pretty girl sat next to me and placed her hand on my arm in the area of the bicep muscle. I immediately tried to make my bicep appear bigger and stronger than it really was. I was always a skinny guy and never had much going in the muscle department. Instead of learning to be satisfied with my real self, the truest self, I resorted to lying the world about my self, trying to make it look more muscular than it really was.
I had a friend, a girl who used to keep padding in her bra to make her torso appear more attractive. The scheme worked good during the winter months. But during the summer months, in Mediterranean where we lived and where everyone spends lots of time on the beach, she had to continuously turn down people’s invitations to join them in the summer fun.
Often so-called spiritualists like to lie, too. They like to present themselves as more advanced, enlightened, and “pure” than they really are. But all it takes for the circus to be exposed is just one adequate situation.
Lying is a stressful process. When you lie once, you need to continue to lie. Thus the illusory structure continues to grow more and more complex which makes its maintenance very difficult. It is so much easier to be honest and transparent. However, when we artificially promote the secondary self to the primary position, we are in the situation where we need to accept the fact that the secondary self is not pretty. Even if it externally appears pretty, that’s only for a short period of time. A youthful body that used to make heads turn, as it ages, moves around unnoticed and neglected. That is painful. The whole problem can be easily solved if the person keeps the secondary self secondary and the primary self primary. The secondary self is transient. One day it is pretty while another day it is ugly. The primary self is always beautiful. After all, most of us want to be accepted for what we are. So what are we? We are not black, white, or yellow. We are not men or women. We are not heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. We are not tall or short, fat or thin, rich or poor. All those things are peripheral, transient, they are the secondary self. We are, in the deepest and truest sense, the conscious self, the spirit soul dwelling in the body, the body that is the secondary self, built around the primary self.
Personally, if someone values me for my bodily characteristics, I get very disappointed with that individual. Such a fellow can never be a serious and close friend to me.
Unfortunately we are living in a society where secondary self is artificially promoted to the position of the primary self and therefore it is given primary attention. This insane society is directly rewarding people for their secondary but attractive characteristics and is indirectly punishing them when their secondary characteristics are not attractive any more. Thus all the girls want to be tall, skinny, busty, etc., while all the guys want to be muscular, athletic looking. I just remembered a girl’s disappointment when a pretty latino guy took off his straw hat to accidentally reveal his bald head. Her remark was, after he left, “too bad.”
We should not allow the society to impose its artificial values on us. If our friends treat and value us on the basis of the secondary self, then we should know for certain that they are not our friends. Such friends are best to be given up. We’d be better off making new friends, hanging out with people who love us for what we are, who love us on the basis of the primary self. We clearly need a new culture, a new society based on our intrinsic values, based on the value system that’s build on the primary, rather than the secondary self.
Sthavira-bhakti Däsa Vanacari
Great article Mahat Tattva Dasa! You have "hit a home run" with this article!