Sakyamuni Buddha replied, "I understand the situation, but which is more important? Finding that woman, or finding yourself?"
|Screenshot from the Buddhist film The Osha Castle Tragedy
We tend to think that we are fully aware of our self, but it's actually the most difficult thing to know. This is why since ancient Greece it has been said to "Know Thyself." (Reason, p. 103)
We are all seeking for happiness, but if we don't know our true self we will not be able to attain it.
Thus, the key to happiness is to know our true self.
These days we know all about the vast distant galaxies in the universe and even about the tiny specialized cells within the human body. But do we really know any more about ourselves?
There is a very simple reason behind why we can't know our self. It's because we're just too close to it.
The human eye can see outwardly many things at great distances, but it cannot see inwardly the things that are very close.
|Original Photo by benjgibbs available on Flickr.com
For example, can you see your eyebrows with your own eyes? ... Didn't think so. Our eyes cannot see our own eyes, just like a knife can't cut itself.
In order to see something that is very close to us, we use a mirror. (Reason, p.107) There are three kinds of mirrors to see ourselves: rectangular, oval-shaped and round.
Why? It's because we think our true self is reflected in this mirror.
|Original Photo by dearoot available on Flickr.com
That's why we get upset when others are talking badly about us. But suddenly when something good is said about us, we get happy and our feelings can suddenly jump way up.
According to what other people say our feelings go up or down.
Does this mirror reflect our true self? ... Not really.
It reflects a distorted image that relies on others and their convenience. (Reason p.108)
Let's assume a policeman is coming toward you, when you have just been threatened by a robber. The officer must look like an angel to you!
Later you make a left turn a little too late at a red signal... and see the same policeman.
He must look intimidating when he is holding that ominous yellow ticket in his hand. He looked like an angel before, but now he looks like a real devil. So which one is he?
Depends on your convenience, right? This is because it is all according to your own biased evaluation.
Others are doing the same thing. They judge us according to how beneficial we are to them. With this mirror, we seem like a bad person and a good person on the same day. Which one are we truly?
- Pride of looking down on others who are below you
- Pride among equals
- Pride over superiors
- Pride even though I know I'm wrong
- False pride in the belief of having attained enlightenment
- Pride in humility
- Pride of wrong action
It's all because we're wearing those tinted glasses of partiality. In plain terms, we are conceited.
If we could see our true self as it really is, then this mirror would be true. Since it isn't, we must look to the last of the three mirrors to see if it is true.