The harrowing sense of insecurity and over-stimulation that prevails in our time produces a weak and very questionable authenticity. Truth be told, most people are too busy standing guard over their beliefs to connect with self-conviction, and behind this lamentable condition, we crouch in a mythical make-believe of privacy and autonomy.
We are strongly influenced by what another person sees in us, whether we agree with it or not. We are mirrors to one another, ill-fated to respond to reflections rather than to inner stability, integrity or conviction.
It may appear that we can keep thoughts to ourselves, and mask feelings. However, anger, sadness, excitement, inspiration, or the heaviness of indifference colour the atmosphere always surrounding us. There is nothing personal about it. Human beings constantly emit fields of energy and forces that are in perpetual motion and infiltrate our fragile physical structure, floating and mixing with surfaces much like dust moats in the air. Thoughts and feelings shape our experience of reality and there is minor difference if they are outside expressions or if they respond to our inner world. We also carry an arsenal of past beliefs and experiences, as thought forms, surrounding us at subtle levels. Each person exerts an effect upon others at multiple levels and it is extremely difficult to know what begins or ends where.
We think we are impregnable, without considering that the body-mind reflects the state of persons we are with, places we find ourselves in, and even the weather. A mechanism of energy projection underlies relationship and communication at basic levels. Imperceptibly, it can build up until we no longer stand upon our own experience. Furthermore, we are not aware of how we too are labelling and influencing others. It is programming on top of programming, conditioning upon conditioning. All in perpetual motion.
Basic upbringing shapes our responses, overlaid by every contact, and experience we have. These form indelible impressions that act as imperatives until and if we become conscious and strong enough to resist, live, and discern what is authentic.
And, just what is “authenticity”? It is certainly not indulgent spontaneity. Genuine authenticity is coloured by something else – aware feeling sensibility. To be authentic is not just doing what we feel like or imposing an especially saintly aspect of ourselves. Neither rebellious nor obedient, it responds to a truly present stance that reflects the environment and others, the moment, and our ideals in full coherence with the direct untainted inner experience we have of ourselves.
Here is where the difficulty sets in. Being ourselves in the world is invariably and subliminally linked to others’ references. In adolescence, for example, we drift from one identity to another desperately trying out positions until we find what feels good or suits our purposes. Whatever we do or not, always reflects and affects others, further complicating the issue.
How do we know when we are not being shaped by the very forces that we are responding to? How do we know that what we accept as genuine is not belief? How do we know that we are not distorting our perception with our own expectations? Most of the time we are so involved in reaping effects that we do not look any further.
Others’ mirrors construct a labyrinth of possibilities.
It is easier to cling to first impressions and accept them as true. If we are intelligent, we acknowledge the existence of selective filters and collective programming, but even this acknowledgement becomes an opinion that we hold to sustain our own convenience. The problem is compounded when everyone holds opinions about everything. The pressure exerted through running commentaries is so strong that it distorts everything.
We are constantly making noise and issuing effects. A person’s physical presence, a name, or just a memory is enough to taint our perception of the present. What we think of someone, or someone thinks about us constitutes one of the most common and yet lethal forms of impingement. Remember how you feel when you are facing someone who knows your deep dark secrets? A guilty person carries guilt written all over him. We sense rather than “see” it. Is he guilty or do we project guilt onto him and therefore he looks guilty?
When you misbehave, don’t you feel how your face becomes disproportionately huge? We can barely hide our thoughts and feelings. People carry the memory of transgression; it is substance-like and readily felt, whether it is your own or another’s.
Emotional response is virtually impossible in a reality of constant counter influence. We might as well try to live without breathing. And, positive affirmations only serve to deceive us, adding veneer to already camouflaged elements. Silence and spontaneity are mutually exclusive.
We do not notice how a person responds to our expectations, nor do we question the self-preservation impulses that drive us to disregard others. However, when it becomes obvious that someone does not like us, we feel uncomfortable, irritated, sad, depressed or a mixture of all the above. Even headstrong bullies, or impermeable intellectuals shrivel before the quality of another’s opinion.
It’s very messy. Everything influences our reactions, a fleeting meeting, a phone call, a tantalising social imperative, a to-do list, or a lifelong habit of self-centeredness. Sadly, most people would do anything to not feel and carry the weight of being whole and responsible for their own and others' lives.
The result is the current situation. Insensitivity blocks superficial stimuli and deadens sensibility with pills, sleeping aids, anti-depressants, technological advancements, and artificial stimulants. Controlling, delaying, side-tracking or avoiding – anything is better than the painful sensibility of awareness. Authenticity is not pleasant for either the subject or the object; it requires courage. Besides, receptivity also works in the inverse; we have the very same effect on others who in turn ricochet back to us. Can we accept another’s authenticity?
Authenticity has little to do with what we do, think, or feel, with calling attention to ourselves or withdrawing from social intercourse. Reflecting a philosophy of life rather than a state of being, so-called authenticity reveals where personal focus as priorities and intentions lie. What passes for authenticity is subject to peer pressure and approval ratings, a mentally sustained reflection of precarious beliefs.
To be genuinely authentic would entail manifesting the emptiness that lies at the core of our inner Self. How can one express the nothingness that contains All? Rather than trying to be authentic, effort should be placed in refraining from inauthenticity. This means awareness evoked in a state of constant self-inquiry, something intolerable for most people. Used to depths and peaks of excitation and equally intense performance, the modern mind finds it all too boring, preferring to talk about it, be outrageous, act it out symbolically, and fancy oneself a unique individual.
Energy invariably looks for ways of adapting and merging with surrounding force. Like anything real, authenticity cannot be “done”; it emerges from deeper sensibility, fullness, and autonomy. These require the ability to know and be fully present in the very midst of life. Unless we stand whole and aware, we are helpless victims of procedure.
Let us not pretend we are authentic unless we are living in close rapport with our inner self. The funny thing is that in this state of being the issue of authenticity never arises. Like awareness, authenticity is the height of sensitivity and intelligence. It does not have to be anything.