(Above: An orderly bicycle. Photo and title by the author)
I was watching a YouTube video the other day. Made by ‘Sadhguru’ – a favourite spiritual teacher. See end of this post for an example of one of his talks.
He came out with the phrase; “I do not give you permission to upset me”. His audience fell silent. Who had upset him? And how did he propose this ‘permission’ would avoid him being upset?
I’m a bit less reverential; largely because I know exactly what he’s talking about, and over a glass of water, we might smile. Water because he’s a yoga guru, but never uses the ‘guru’ word. He’s not remotely pompous. He describes himself as an untutored person, no academic standing, though he speaks to large audiences all over the world. He’s simply a teacher of how to live life on a higher level of involvement with the real.
The real is the world we come to live in when we strip out the accumulated reactions of the personality. Most of what we dislike we were taught to need…
The world had another simple man who said much the same thing: turn the other cheek.
turn the other cheek…
The idea that both these figures tried to put across is that much of what we attribute to the ‘out there’, in terms of negative effects on us… is generated by us.
We humans have many outstanding attributes. One of the most powerful is the desire and ability to imitate. As young children, we copy those closest to us: our parents, first; then our close friends at school. Later, possibly, our heroes in films, or even fictional books.
Jonny Commando is tough. He fights for good and has an intolerance of low-life scum. It’s important to him to be reactive. He needs to show you that you’ve upset him. By repetition – and possibly a few broke bones – he’ll show us how important it is to be like him.
But the genuine adult, looking for the depth in life, will examine this and see the flaws. It’s okay for comic-book heroes to be tough, as long as we know it’s fiction and will not bring us what our hearts desire – which is to live in truth. Escapism has its place – but it’s just that – an escape from reality. Reality is hard but it’s the truth – and that has a power that many don’t realise. Equipped with reality, I can choose how I react. I can look at that person who wants to upset me and deny the ‘apparent other’ the effect.
They’re going to look at me as though I’m soft. That’s fine. I will look back with understanding that their vocabulary does not include this non-response – my stealing of aggressive energy from the useless and unreal; the cheek turned. I did not give them permission to upset me.
Usually this gets people walking away. That is good. We have avoided confrontation and they content themselves with the fact that I’m weird. To them I may well be… But I am the one smiling. for some, they sense something deeper… calmer. In this situation, the world of truth – reality – opens up.
The ancient Egyptian priesthood had a whole way of life based on it; expressed in the word ‘Cromaat’ – literally ‘So be it in truth’. They were laying out their truth second by second, in front of them via speaking truth. A deeper path through life, one more real on which to walk.
There are a great number of Sadhguru talks on the internet; many on YouTube. Here is one.
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.