“Why does the mechanism of image making come into being?”
Public talk 3 Ojai, April 8, 1978
When you do something thoughtlessly, impulsively, and the consequence is serious enough that you feel remorse and regret, do you review the incident, or just try to forget about it? Usually it’s the latter. But sometimes, you have to understand why you behaved badly, and you review the event to find out what you were thinking when you acted. Invariably, you realize you were not thinking but reacting, responding reflexively. You mistook what was happening for something that happened to you in the past, or something you’re afraid of happening to you in the future. In other words, the situation was more about you than the others involved. Your self-centered mind did what it always does. It interprets the present in terms of your past…all the events and incidents that have formed your world view, your values, and coalesced into an image that represents that view and those values. This image, your self-image, is like your flag, your symbol. It embodies everything that left a lasting impression on you, and it turns rational response into knee-jerk reaction.
We are victims of our inability to get over traumatizing, bewildering, and confounding events in our lives. We don’t always perceive reality as it is because unresolved past incidents remind us of our greatest fears and desires, making rational thought and response impossible. What are we to do about this?
If we take every incident of irrational response seriously enough to reflect on it and find out what’s behind it, we can learn about the way we think and process experience. We can learn how to think things through instead of drawing hasty conclusions. We can do this, or we can soldier on in the same old way, learning nothing and repeating the same mistakes over and over.