Self-assured or Just Superficial?
by Michael Mamas

Over the decades, there have been a number of trends in human behavior. Certainly, clothing style is an obvious one. The days of bell-bottoms and afros are long-passed. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on another more significant trend. It presented itself to me while I was watching a television interview of some teenagers. I couldn’t help see how self-assured and assertive they behaved. Yet, something was off. It seemed their attention was on how they came across, as opposed to where they were really coming from within their own being. I noticed this same characteristic when, after arriving late to my hotel room, I saw a superficial late-night talk show. Presentation seemed to count for more than substance. Reflection and depth were substituted with quick-witted sarcasm. All this really got me thinking.

Social change creeps into societies often unnoticed. In Hollywood, where are the role models of wisdom, dignity, and inner strength of character? I’ve heard that many actors are comfortable playing a role, but uncomfortable with their own self during an interview. I find this as interesting as it is universal. In times past, there were a number of actors who role-modeled inner depth. (Of course, whether or not they lived it was another matter.) The fact that they at least role-modeled it is significant. It represents an importance that society placed upon inner depth.

Through the years, I have found it disheartening to see how many psychotherapists focus on cultivating the superficial functioning of their clients. We, of course, call that Band-Aid therapy. It’s fascinating to note the numerous things people cling to in order to reinforce that superficial sense of self: money, education, social position, looks, and of course, the currently vogue, witty sarcasm and self-confident presentation.

Our relationship with money illustrates all of this nicely. I’ve noticed that many people who have money present themselves in a particular way—aristocratic, smart, better than, self-assured, etc. Studies have shown that people hold themselves this same way if they are the wealthiest in their village, even if, by Western standards, they are impoverished. I’ve also noticed how quickly this can happen. Many times, I’ve witnessed people who, after attaining instant wealth, immediately take on this characteristic persona of the wealthy.

The whole pattern of superficiality is particularly glaring to me. I have spent my life in dedication to the opposite. When I lecture, superficiality is far from my mind. My attention and focus is to present my Self, the depth of my heart and soul. I sit in front of everyone with no agenda other than that. I speak from that place, knowing that if I can do that, what comes out will be exquisite. I also know this is true for everyone.

Learn to come from your depth. That is your true strength. Cultivate a persona that presents your true nature, your divinity. This is what needs to be done to become truly great. What an exquisite universe that this is so. Yet, coming from depth is the last thing so many strive for. What a perplexing universe it is.

The biggest lie most people tell is a false presentation of their own Self. Pay attention to that. For when they are telling that lie, everything they say and do is colored, if not determined, by that lie. When you speak to them, you are not really even speaking to them. Cultivate the ability to see the true them, their divinity, who it is they really are, hiding deep beneath the shroud. When you interact with them, keep your finger on the pulse of the dance they do between their superficial self and their divine Self.

Please keep in mind this is delicate terrain. Clinging to superficiality is motivated by fear—fear that what lies within is not adequate, something to be ashamed of, something too slow, too frail, too vulnerable, too private, and too embarrassing. Who would think it could be so challenging and elusive to sit in a chair and just be who you are? This is everyone’s final frontier. It is the ultimate challenge. The path to it is the traversing of the razor’s edge, the path of discernment, the goal of life.

Remember, it’s simply a tilling of the soil. You cannot just decide to function from your divinity and do it. Tilling of the soil frees up the plant to grow, but only the watering of the root will enable it to do so. Resting into your divinity is a physiological process. Regular meditation is the greatest engine. It waters the root of your own divinity. It thereby nourishes the entire plant, enabling even the most superficial leaves to be full expressions of the divinity dwelling at the depth. This cannot be mimicked, it can only be cultivated over time. Find fulfillment in the sanctity of your own being. Based upon that, act in the world.

© Michael Mamas, 04/08