Even if I need to see my figure, I have to become the other in a mirror; I have to be at a distance from myself – only then can I see my reflection. Seeing the reflection in a mirror means my image is at a distance, and now it is visible to me. All that a mirror does is present your image at a distance from you. The intervening space thus created enables you to see.
In order to see, a distance is needed. For one who lives identified with the body, or thinks he is the very body, there exists no distance between him and his body.
Once there was a Mohammedan mystic called Farid. A man came to see him one morning and raised the same question you have asked me. He said to Farid, “We have heard that when Jesus was crucified he did not cry out, scream, or grow miserable. We have also heard that when Mansoor’s limbs were cut off, he was laughing. How can this be? This is impossible.”
Farid didn’t say a word. He laughed, and from the coconuts offered to him by his devotees, he picked up one that was lying nearby and gave it to the man. Farid told him, “Take this coconut. It is not ripe yet. Break it open, but make sure you keep the kernel from breaking. Break the outer shell and bring me the unbroken kernel.”
The man said, “This is impossible. Because the coconut is unripe, there is no space between the kernel and the outer shell. If I break open the shell the kernel will break too.”
Farid said, “Forget this coconut. Here is another. Take this one, it is dry. There is a space between its kernel and the outer shell. Can you assure me you can break only the shell and leave the kernel intact?”
The man said, “What’s so difficult about this? I will break the shell and the kernel will be saved without any problem.”
Farid said, “Tell me why the kernel will be saved.”
The man replied, “Because the coconut is dry, there exists a distance between the shell and the kernel.”
Farid said, “Now don’t bother about breaking open the coconut; set it aside too. Did you get your answer or not?”
The man said, “I was asking you something else, and you have gotten me into talking about a coconut. My question is, why didn’t Jesus cry out when he was crucified? Why didn’t he weep? Why didn’t Mansoor writhe in pain when his limbs were cut off? Why did he laugh? Why did he smile?”
Farid answered, “Because they were dry coconuts, while we are wet coconuts – there is no other reason than this.”