“I’ll Be Your Mirror”
Recognize the Other Person is You
When the Velvet Underground sang the song by the same title as this article, they gave voice to an uneasy truth. As protégés of Andy Warhol (whose Factory hangout was, at one time, filled with reflective, silvery balloons), they were interested in exploring the liminal space between what is illusion and reality.
The song’s lyrics echo the words of other explorers of the same territory. “When you think the night has seen your mind/ That inside you’re twisted and unkind/ Let me stand to show that you are blind/ Please put down your hands/ ‘cause I see you.” Or, as Oscar Wilde put it: “the highest, as the lowest, form of criticism, is but a mode of autobiography.”
These expressive gestures reach toward a deep truth, the same Yogi Bhajan felt compelled to address in this second of the Five Sutras for the Aquarian Age. Though the approaches are very different, the gist is the same: that what is common between us far outweighs what is not.
Yogi Bhajan’s sutra, however, is not only much more direct, it pushes further. As a sentence, it is powerful. There is an imperative, to “recognize” the truth of the statement. Then, there is the statement itself, that the “other person” is not only like you, but literally IS you.
To seriously consider what the implications of literally sharing the being of another person at first seems beyond comprehension. To the Western imagination, with a politics and philosophy largely built upon the distinctiveness of the self, the result is akin to looking out into the stars and recognizing one’s insignificance. Then again, Western science has long implicated the smallness of the self in the face of the infinity.
So Yogi Bhajan’s Sutra issues a challenge. “Recognizing” the coexistence of two conflicting realities forces a counterintuitive leap, simply in order to deal with the paradox. Push past that conception and feel of its literal truth. Move from acknowledging that we all go through pain, past plain old empathy, to an actual sharing of the pain experience.
But how? After all, can one literally experience another person’s pain?
Consider the funeral for someone you held dear. Where is the line between your grief and another’s drawn?
In other words, this second sutra points back to the first, that understanding comes through compassion. But it also demands “recognition,” for the heart to master the mind, so that mental habits are imbued with and oriented toward compassion. In short, to use the metaphor of the Bhagavad-Gita, the soul must takes the reigns of the mind.
To this end, I’d recommend Kriya for the Magnetic Field and Heart Center in Sadhana Guidelines, which will also provide a good workout.
For a meditation, try Narayan Kriya, from Man to Man, which uses a breath to provoke fear and the mantra Sat Narayan Wahe Guru/ Hari Narayan Sat Nam to conquer it. This combination will strip away preconceptions about where you stand in relation to others and provide the courage to deal with everyone in a forthright, loving manner.