31 | CR Book X, Chapter 3

The desire to think well of ourselves, which completely uncritical
and unchecked when collective, is partly due to a derivation of the sex
instinct, to narcissism, which again involves a split since the self is
lovingly reflected in itself, as in a mirror. The social instincts also
contribute. Self-assertion is partly due to the requirements of social life,
and partly to organic self-preservation. As long as I divide the things of
the world into "mine" and "not mine", I and my own qualities and
possessions take up much more space in my field of vision than they
occupy in actual reality. A faulty perspective almost forces us to over-
value anything which is so close to our self that we can imagine that it
"belongs" to it. When I reflect myself in myself, and in others, I treat
that which belongs to me almost invariably as dearer to me than that
which belongs to others. We are easily deceived about the things that
are dear to us. Everything would appear different if we were to efface
ourselves. Then, finally, there is the desire to conform to social pressure,
to which we owe most of the contents of the ideal pleasing image we want
to live up to. Outside its social settings, the self is a lump of shivering
protoplasm. To avoid a painful split between the public and the private
self, one prefers to deceive oneself in addition to deceiving others. The
ether we administer to others affects us, too. Striving after one of the
spurious forms of unity, in terror of isolation, we convince ourselves that
we are nobody, and we conform to the herd through self-concealment.

Chapter 3 - To remove the stain of self-deception from the core of
reality, we must negate ourselves, or negate the negation. The self-
negating attitudes must be directed so as to destroy their own mother.
After we realised what things, and, among them, ourselves, really are -
all one, and nothing in themselves - we can treat their multiplicity, and
our multifarious and separate self , as what they are - insignificant,
void, empty and vain.* The illusions of multiplicity will persist and
reappear as long as our body is alive, for the separation of this organism
from the rest of the world ceases only when it reaches its aim, death. But
we may learn not to be taken in by these illusions, and to accept, or to
treat things not as what they appear, but as what they really are. It is
probably wrong to say that reality is nothing, although one might assert
that the world arose because a nothing deceived itself about itself, and
thus became something. It is difficult to imagine this, but we are not so
much concerned with explaining illusions, as with removing them. In any
case, the way to the real reality of things goes through their nothingness.
We must beware of isolating Reality in its turn - to be treasured or
hugged as a cherished possession. "Neither heaven nor earth are my
shelter. Body and mind are illusions. Strike - and your sword, like a
lightning flash, will cut through a spring breeze." In this state of mind it
is futile to describe objects as either existing or non-existing, in the way
in which our ignorance leads us to imagine those two states. The mental
attitudes which give these words their meaning are transcended, there
being no obstacles to overcome.

There is a contradiction in our movement towards a perfect life in
that we have to strive both towards, and away from, social contacts and
community life. Only practical effort can solve this contradiction. In
some stages the detachment and aloofness from society will be
emphasised, in others the sinking into society. In the end, we learn to

*Book III & Book VII, Chapter 2