Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) is quoted as saying “A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.”
When we are mistreated, most of us react, and reactions are emotional. We get angry, upset and we grasp the wrongful treatment with both hands, like a crab might his dinner.
We look up at the ideal we fall so short of, embittered. If only that target wasn’t so high, or better again, if it didn’t exist at all, we wouldn’t appear so dreadful! In doing so, we bring the heavens crashing down to join us in the slums. Now we are level.
Like handing someone a glass of water while they are engulfed in flames, it does very little. The danger is that we are only really fulfilling our own need or want to be ‘compassionate’ people, in this vain sense.
Why would we assume bad intent? Maybe because we believe, on some level, it is no less than what we deserve.
With these lies we build a fragile fantasy that is not in line with the truth. Our perception is delicate, constantly threatened by exposure. On the other hand, when we align ourselves with truth, we start working with the world, rather than against it. There is harmony.
We don’t want to venture down there and face the damage we have caused. The alternative however, is more devastation every time the truth comes knocking; and it will keep coming. So, we muster every ounce of courage we have left, open the hatch door, and delve underground.
Even though we may think the ‘reality’ we have built is solid, when it holds no truth, it is under constant danger of collapsing. One cracked brick is no big deal, but if every brick we use is cracked, we end up with a completely unstable structure.
When we compare ourselves to others, we highlight our differences and in doing so, highlight our own inferiorities. We start believing that we are unhappy because of these things we lack in comparison, and envy creeps in.
It has endless potential for consumption, and if we don’t recognise it and stop it from latching on, its influence will spread.