Chapter 2: On the Altar of the Real
The first question.
Today in lecture I looked at you and I felt myself so shallow and phony and false. There doesn’t seem to be anything deeper inside of me. Do these feelings show that I don’t have a center yet? It also shocks me that this seems to be my face at the moment.
Nobody can exist without a center. Life is impossible without a center. You may not be aware of it, that’s another matter. It has not to be created but only rediscovered. And remember, I am not saying discovered, I am saying rediscovered.
The child in the mother’s womb remains perfectly aware of the center. The child in the mother’s womb is at the center, vibrates at the center, pulsates at the center. The child is the center in the mother’s womb, he has no circumference yet. He is only essence, he has no personality yet.
Essence is the center, that which is your nature, that which is given by existence. Personality is the circumference, that which is cultivated by society; it is not given by existence. It is by nurture, not by nature.
As the child comes out of the womb, he comes for the first time in contact with something outside of himself. And that contact creates the circumference. Slowly, slowly, the society initiates the child into its own ways. The Christian society will make the child a Christian; and the Hindu, a Hindu, and so on and so forth. Then layer upon layer of conditioning is imposed on the child.
Basically, if you enter into a well-developed personality you will find these three things. First, a very thin positive layer - positive but phony. That is the layer which goes on pretending; that is the layer where all your masks are contained. Fritz Perls used to call that layer the “Eric Berne layer” - where you play all kinds of games.
You may be crying within, but on that layer you go on smiling. You may be full of rage, you may like to murder the other person, but you go on being sweet. And you say, “How good of you to come. I am so happy. Glad to see you.” Your face shows gladness - that is phony.
But to exist in a phony society you will need a phony layer; otherwise you will be in as much difficulty as Socrates was, Jesus was, I am. That phony layer keeps you part of the phony society. You don’t fall apart. It is a false world, what in the East we have called maya. It is illusory, it is all false and phony.
The other person also is smiling falsely as you are smiling. Nobody is smiling. People are carrying wounds, but they have decorated their wounds with flowers, they are hiding their wounds behind flowers.