Faking Authenticity?

The late mystic Osho related a story about two friends setting out for a walk early one morning.  Said one to the other, “Oh, look at that lovely rose; the bud is just starting to blossom and looks beautiful with dewdrops glistening on its unfurling petals in this early morning light”.  With barely a glance and a nod, the companion moved on, saying “I have seen many beautiful roses; what is so special about this one?  They are all the same”.

Osho said that we miss the point when making a statement like the second man did.  He reminds us that the rosebud at this moment will be very different from the one seen later in the day, for it would have bloomed to disperse its growing fragrance further afield.  A day later, that same rose’s petals would wilt and not provide the lovely smell it gives out at this moment.  Just like the rose while our physical appearance changes, our inherent values remain.

However, some writers have suggested the concept of the individual developing an Authentic Self, Adapted Self or a Performing Self to succeed in this competitive, discriminating and bigoted world.  I find this very hard to understand; because, unless I adhere to my inherent core values would I not just be faking “authenticity” to conform to situations or people’s perception of me?  We can pretend to be someone we might idolize or choose to ape.  It is only the “I”, which cannot be contained in or defined by “my” brain, mind, heart or any bodily organ that is immutable and remains grounded.  It is this self that sets policy and provides tactical direction to my daily behavior and dictates claims to my being an authentic person, a principled man.  Trying to go against this “true self” gives rise to inner turmoil and causes us pain.

The Sikhs’ Guru Granth Sahib states “apnaa mool pehchaan” (discover/identify with your authentic self) in the following verse:

Mann toon jot saroop hain aapnaa mool pachhaan O my inner-self, you are the embodiment of the Divine Light – recognize your own origin

Sufi masters like Bulle Shah and others exhort each of us to discover our true inner self.  Famous philosopher-poet Allama Iqbal used the high-flying majestic “Shaheen” (Falcon) as a symbol of Khudi (self-discovery, comprising of both self-discovery and self-respect) and recited the following lines which have become legendary:

Khudī ko kar buland itnā ki har taqdīr se pahle Elevate thine self to the level where, before issuing each decree of destiny
ḳhudā bande se ḳhud pūchhe batā terī razā kyā hai God him/her-self inquires of you: Tell me, what is your intent (what do you wish to write as your fate?)

Osho states simply:

“Know thyself.  Be thyself ….

…. The work is not important but what happens within you, doing the work – that is the decisive point. If it brings light in your being, if it brings a deep fulfillment, if it makes you more loving and more joyous, then it is absolutely irrelevant what you are doing; do it and do it totally ….

…. Everybody has his own purpose, that’s right, but to find your purpose is impossible without finding yourself. And the moment you find yourself, simultaneously you will find your purpose. So, there is no need to be concerned with the purpose. The whole concern should be knowing yourself ….”

“Fake it until you make it” is an English aphorism worthy of TED Talks and may be the gospel for many believers.  Peter Pan and the Tooth Fairy are great distractions too, but are gone in a flash.

Do try and reflect on the suggestions by the Sufi and spiritual Masters even if seemingly fanciful; perhaps these might help you navigate through the work or family environments that oftentimes start to feel toxic.



4 Replies to “Faking Authenticity?”

  1. Thanks. Wish I knew.

    A good friend, who made a very successful career with two world-call Consultancy firms told me “You have it made if you can fake sincerity!” Both the “buyers” and “sellers” today appear to be interested more in the packaging than in the contents inside. The number of “views”, “hits” and “likes” settles issues, not the substance.


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