The overrated self

You first need to have an ego in order to be aware that it doesn’t exist.

Matthieu Ricard

I think that there is a major fallacy at play not only in Haven teaching but most new-age movements. The attempt to get rid of the narcissism of being concerned with approval and acceptance from others has lead to a focus on the self. Missing that these are flip sides of the same coin. Authenticity is not gained through self-analysis. At Haven I started to feel like I was in the director’s cut of a movie, and I desperately wanted to be in the movie instead. This was true of my time with leaders or long term followers more so than other participants. There also seemed to be less awareness than there was amongst outsiders.

In Shakespeare, the most authentic character is the fool. The fool works by mocking the self-obsession (to be or not to be) and the focus on the other (Juliet is the sun.) It is only through mocking the form we are in that we are able to succeed, but the director’s cut seldom has the freedom to mock its form.

To truly be authentic is to realize that who I am is ultimately irrelevant and go on living in the movie version, content that there will be misunderstandings, irony, humour and worlds of missing information. That is the point of existentialism, you choose the meaning in the movie, not to destroy the meaning there is by taking a sidetrack out of the film and into the director’s cut where the only meaning gained is that you have information others lack.

I would be a hypocrite if I claimed that the information provided by that way of living has no meaning or use to me, so it shouldn’t anyone else. However, if we want an objective look at what it means to be authentic, this version should be questioned.

Animals are incredibly authentic. The one thing that separates them most from humans (with the exception of primates) is that they have no self concept. A self concept is usually tested by if an animal or human attempts to get rid of a red dot on their nose upon looking in a mirror.

We cannot stop noticing the red dots on our noses, nor should we try. But to be truly authentic, we need to stop gazing.


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