BATURAM NAYAK charts out a strategy to shatter our narrow cocoons and live a life full of happy interpersonal experiences
One of the most important aspects of our living is interpersonal experiences. How we see and experience the world, understand the experiences of people around us, reinforce one another in matters of life and living, and accordingly act or react, has a bearing or impact on us, as we live together, not in isolation.
Given its importance in our life, the study of the complexity of interpersonal experiences has been the central theme of all great spiritual and philosophical traditions. The finest among them have succeeded in finding a pathway through the maze of these experiences and devised a creative principle or a constructive theory for man to safeguard his homeostasis, thus sustaining the sanity of his experiences with the noble purpose of service to humanity. This has been the essence of all humanistic studies and all great religions.
Ronald D Laing, one of the greatest psychoanalysts of our time is a pioneer in this field of study. His studies have helped in unravelling the labyrinth of interpersonal experiences, thus showing the way to preserve the sanctity of humanity, primarily by safeguarding the sanity of man.
In his epoch-making work, The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, he says: “We act not only in terms of our own experience, but what we think they experience, and how we think they experience, and so on…in a logically vertiginous spiral to infinity…my concern, my concern for your concern, your concern, and your concern for my concern…is an infinite spiral, upon which rests my pride and shame…our language is only partially adequate to express this state of affairs.”
How can one deal with this maze of experiences, which Laing terms as the ‘Politics of Experience’, in such a way that one safeguards the purity of one’s own perception, facilitates and promotes the purity of others’ perception, and in that process, live and let others live with sanity and dignity, so that the fabric of society becomes clean, reaching its highest integration?
Is it not a compelling necessity, for each one of us to care for one another with a reciprocal concern and be loyal to one another, as G.K.Chesterton urges, so very humanly:
“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea,
And we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”
Man is so delusional that he is audacious enough to believe that we have a strong control over our own experiential reality. We wrongly believe that our life and living shaped by our subjective experiences are in our strong grip. The reality on the ground, as evidenced by the facts of life is different
Life is complex with many more aspects, and the truth is one can’t just see and act up on a situation…this is easier said than done. A person may be very judicious and selective about the aspects that concern him, but it often happens to be with a utilitarian, even ulterior motive.
A higher degree of interpersonal perception is required to understand life’s situations, and more than that, a greater amount of magnanimity is needed to get along. It is necessary to understand that, “The other man too is as important as me, and like myself he/she too has a right to exist with equal dignity”.
Failing to understand this may result in a world of dichotomies, fragmentation and a life, which is half-baked and doesn’t seem spontaneous and genuine enough. In the worst case scenario, this may result in misery and even disease in the person with such a myopic vision.
Abraham Maslow has so eloquently phrased the pathological condition of such a dichotomised life in these words: “Dichotomy pathologizes; Pathology dichotomizes”.
God has gifted humanity a wholesome world. However, because of our parochial and divisive mentality, we build for ourselves ‘our-worlds’, which are nothing but narrow cocoons that may seem cosy from our point of view. However, such a world is alien, spiritually speaking, and a far cry from what God created, in its pristine glory ― a world of love, brotherhood and harmony.
Is there a way out of it? Can we be rescued? Yes, of course! But the rescue mission has to begin, as Dr Laing recommends, with the realisation that: “What we think is less than what we know; what we know is less than what we love: what we love is so much less than what there is. And to that precise extent we are so much less than what we are.”
The more we understand our own limitations, the better we can open up to the promising and even grand possibilities in the world, which in the first place will help us to evolve as better human beings and highly sensible and intelligent persons.
Thereafter, our growth trajectory is limitless. From a narrow cocoon that we had created in the past, we can metamorphose ourselves into open-minded, free-thinking, vibrant human beings, sagacious and capable of reaching the pinnacle of intellectual and spiritual growth, in a world that is happier, inspiring, and blissful.
Baturam Nayak, a postgraduate in economics, joined the banking sector in 1983 and retired in June 2020. He is a firm believer in simplicity and minimalism. “My faith is Oneness, एकत्वम्; that’s the way I would express myself and live in harmony with everything,” he says.