Self Image, Illusion or Reality?
Most of the intimate distresses and difficulties with interpersonal relationships arise from the image (of our-selves) that we project, cultivate, nourish, serve and worship. This is the main source of inner frustrations and clashes in fellowship.
This appears to be madness or alienation. But we live this way, between desire and fear. For half of his life, people struggle on the offensive to bring to light, to nourish and “build up” (inflate) his own image (personal prestige, popularity). In the other half, a prey to fear, they struggle on the defensive to preserve that prestige.
The majority of people are not interested in what a person is in him or herself but rather how that person appears to them. The image interests them more than the reality, the lie more than objectivity. And so, the individual in society launches out in pursuit of a career of appearances in the typical game of who deceives who, and how to produce the best impression.
Entire books could be written demonstrating how the world is a big stage, and the pride of life plays the great “match” of labels, social conventions and displays of wealth, a competition for the social image, a battle in which being does not interest anyone. Nor even having, but only appearing.
How can we liberate ourselves from those illusions which have given rise to so much personal preoccupation and so much misery in our life? We cannot live in that tension, continually tossed about between the social name and impossible dreams. Neither is inner peace or brotherly love possible in such circumstances. A large portion of our energy is wasted on those preoccupations which only serve fantasy.
It is sad to see how a person suffers, how one struggles, how so many swords are forged and spears are broken for the fleeting appearance of a name which, ultimately, is not the truth of the person.
The important thing for the majority of us mortals is not that we realize ourselves but that we may be seen as realized. And we are considered realized not because of our effective and objective production but because public opinion considers us to be a winner or successful. And so, mounted on the colt of deceit, we go galloping ahead, fearful and anxious, about unreal worlds. From the deceit of life, deliver us, Lord!
Prepare the roads to fraternal understanding. Cast down those lofty towers, built not from stones but from idle dreams. Awake from those dreams. Renounce the worship of empty images. Free us O God from so much anguish and allow us to enter into the kingdom of peace.
Let the kingdom of wisdom and objectivity come. Let in the pure heart which is detached from appearances and freed from mania, poor and wise at the same time, because someone poor is always wise.
From the book Come with me by Father Ignacio Larrañaga.