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Another person may depend on the opinions of other people for certain things and he may not want their opinions for some other things or he may partly depend on other people for his happiness or confidence and he may partly rely on himself also. This person is a mixture of true confidence and illusionary confidence and he may be somewhere around the middle of his journey. Yes, people can be mixtures of true and illusionary confidence or even happiness and this is what majority of us are.
It should be noted that only a rare few people lie at the extreme ends of this journey, which means only a few people may be found absolutely dependant or absolutely free. It is the people in between, who are found in majority. For instance, if the state of absolute dependence is zero and the state of absolute freedom is hundred on a scale, the people having zero or hundred are rare to find. Most people will have scores between 1 and 99 as they’re on their journey from zero to hundred.
If a person is at 50, it means half of his confidence or happiness may depend on other people and half of it may come from inside. In practical terms, the criticism of other people can damage the confidence of this person up to a point and not beyond that. The 50% of his illusionary confidence may be destroyed whereas the remaining 50% which is his true confidence can’t be altered. For instance, if most people around him tell him that on a scale of 1 to 10 for physical beauty, he’s a 3, this is what may happen.
His true confidence may tell him that he’s certainly a 5 at the least and his illusionary confidence may keep adding or not adding a score of 1 to 5. It means when appreciated the most by other people, his illusionary confidence or his ego may add a score of 5 to the score assigned by his true confidence. Hence he may think that he’s 10 out of 10, at such a time. When this appreciation becomes less but it is still there, his ego may add a score of 2 and he may think that he’s 7 at this time. Likewise, if all people around him don’t appreciate his physical beauty, the score added by the ego may drop to zero and he may start feeling like being a 5.
Moving ahead, if a number of people around him start telling him that he’s a 2 or 3, he may not believe it. This is because a score of 5 is coming from his true confidence and hence it can’t be altered by other people’s opinions. Therefore, if the people around him keep telling him that he’s a 5 or anything above a 5, he may believe them because the score above five is dealt with by his ego and hence it is variable.
However, when these people try to make him believe that he’s a 2 or a 3, this may not happen. This is because these people can only control his illusionary confidence and not his true confidence. Accordingly; they can alter the score above 5 but they can’t alter the score up to 5. Hence when these people tell him that he’s a 2, he won’t bother much and he may think these people don’t know how to assign scores. He’s confident that he’s at least a 5 and no one can convince him against it. This is how we work, as most of us are mixtures of different percentages of dependence and freedom.
The more this percentage shifts towards dependence, the more we’re affected by other people whereas the more this percentage moves towards freedom, the freer we are from other people’s opinions. This is why you may see different people having different levels of confidence or happiness and you may also see the same person possessing different levels of confidence at different times. If that happens, it means this person is a mixture of true and illusionary confidence. Hence his confidence is varying between the point of true confidence and the scores added by the illusionary confidence, based on the positive or negative feedback of people.
Going back to the example where you’re a scientist, even this logic given by your intellect doesn’t justify your blind desire to finish this project; that you must finish what you start. Looking at this rule in its deepest sense, it should be rather understood as ‘if you start something, give it your best’. This line may look similar to the first one, it is a lot different and in fact this is the line which holds the true essence of this rule.
The first and the most important thing to understand is that no matter how strong your ego may be and how much push it may give to you, it is a fact that all of us as humans only have control over our effort and we have no control over the results. Even the smallest or the simplest looking things may become impossible to do for you and this fact certifies this rule. For instance, if you make as simple a promise to your wife as ‘I’ll make coffee for you tomorrow morning’; are you absolutely sure you’ll do it?
I mean can you be 100% sure that you’ll not fall so ill by tomorrow morning that you may not even rise from your bed or you may even live till tomorrow morning? We all know the answer and hence a promise even as simple as this is beyond your control because a number of outside variables are also involved. For instance, if an earthquake hits your city in the night and there’s no kitchen and no coffee left to start with, which means this earthquake may be destructive, how can you make this coffee? In this case, you may not even remember that you’d promised your wife a cup of coffee, as you may be so busy with other important things.
Therefore, when you make this promise, in sense it means that you’ll put in your best effort to make this cup of coffee for your wife and if the variables beyond your control don’t play against you, you’ll very likely be able to do so. It means nothing more than this and in fact, this is all it can mean at the most. Hence a person with grown conscience won’t attach too much to his promise beyond a certain point. I know it may sound strange to many people as keeping your promise is considered as the mark of a great man.
It certainly is the mark of a great man but kindly understand that keeping your promise only means doing your best and nothing else. Make a promise, do your best to fulfill it and whether it is fulfilled or not should be none of your business. This is because if it does become your business, your ego may be much more in percentage than your conscience. Kindly understand that it is your ego which attaches to such things like your image and it is not your conscience that does so.
One of the basic differences between your conscience and ego is that the former encourages you to work for the universal wellbeing even if you have to face individual losses for that, such as the loss of image or reputation. Hence a person with highly developed conscience may not be afraid of even breaking a promise, if doing so is in tune with universal will, in a particular situation.
However, if such promise rises from your ego, you may not care for universal wellbeing or anything else for that matter and all you may care for is your promise. This is because your ego cares for you only and it doesn’t bother about anyone or anything else. Therefore, if universal will is against your promise, you may not quit this promise and you may instead go against the universal will. Similarly, if variables beyond control don’t allow you to fulfill your promise, you may feel ashamed if you’re a man of high ego.
On the other hand, you may still be peaceful if you’re a man of high conscience because even while making such promise, you knew very well that making this promise only means that you’ll do your best to fulfill it and it may or may not be fulfilled, depending on the variables beyond your control. Some of you may think at this point that people with highly developed conscience may then keep breaking their promises as they may not attach much value to them?
It may look so but it is not. In fact, people with high conscience attach even more value to their words, in the deepest sense and this is why they operate in a different manner, like a person with grown conscience should operate. Hence when you ask for a promise from a man with high ego, he may give a straight promise if he’s willing to do so. It means he may tell you something like, ‘I’ll do it’.
However, when you ask for the same promise from a man with high conscience; he may instead tell you something like, ‘I’ll try my best to do it or if all goes well, it’ll be done’. You see, there’s an obvious difference between their answers as the former attaches all his ego to his promise and the latter only attaches all his effort to his promise, which is the best thing to do. It may look like you can trust the first person better than the second one, it may be quite the opposite in a number of cases. The promise made by a man with high ego can often land him as well as you in trouble, if you’re a part of such promise.
For instance, if you go to a person who has some type of authority and high ego also; and you ask him to help you out, this is what may happen. You may tell him that your son-in-law has beaten your daughter a lot, he’s thrown her out of his house after that and she wants justice but the police are biased as he has a politician to support him. Hence the police are not taking any action against him. You tell him that your daughter wants divorce and you want a criminal case to be registered against your son-in-law, for the wrong doings done by him to your daughter.
He may ask you some questions related to this matter and motivated by his ego, he may give his word that a criminal case will be registered against your son-in-law. It is natural for you to feel very happy as you know he’s a resourceful person and he attaches value to his word. The process starts and both parties are called to the police station for initial investigation into the matter. This person goes with you and your son in law is accompanied by the politician who’s supporting him.
During the course of arguments, suppose your son in law or the politician with him tells this person that there’s nothing he can do and the matter will decide in their favor. This is when his ego may get hurt and he may also make counter claims like they’ll face serious damages in this case. This matter goes on for some days and your side becomes sure of winning. It means the police tell you that they’re soon going to register a criminal case against your son-in-law and they’re going to put him behind bars.
Everything looks perfect till here and this is where the twist may come. Your son-in-law may come to you begging for another chance, he may ask forgiveness for his mistakes and he may even offer guarantees in written as well as some assurances that he’ll respect his wife in future and nothing of this sort will happen. His conduct so far may not make him worthy of being trusted and you may not have done so either, if it was a business deal. It means you may never work with someone who’s hurt you or cheated you.
However, relationships don’t work that way and they’re all about giving more and more chances to one another, so that a balance may finally be reached. Hence when your son-in-law says so, you may duly consider his offer and on top of that, your daughter may express her opinion very clearly that she wants to give second chance to her husband. This is because she may have seen some very good times with him and there may be a number of good things about him which may convince her to give it one more try. She may also tell you at this time only; that she was also partly at fault for the situation which went beyond control. Hence you all may decide to withdraw the police complaint and reunite this couple.
This is where your problems may start. When you go to this person and tell him that you want to settle, he may not like it at all and here is why. Kindly understand that he may have started helping you under any pretext but during the process, his ego has got attached to this case. It means that for you, it may be about the welfare of your daughter whereas for him, it may primarily be about winning one more case and proving his authority over the others, in order to satisfy his ego.
Such attachment may have intensified when they had an argument and the other party hurt his ego by saying that he wouldn’t be able to do them any harm. This may have provoked his ego to make sure that the other party faces serious losses so that they may come to know who they’re messing with. Hence this person may now be much more interested in causing harm to your son-in-law than in benefitting you in some way.
Therefore, he may not like the statement given by you that your daughter has reconciled with her husband and hence you wish to withdraw the police case. It may actually turn out to be a good decision for your daughter as the couple may gradually sort their differences out, after this reconciliation. However, it may certainly not be a good thing for this person as the other party had insulted him and all he wants is to put your son-in-law behind bars.
As your daughter has the right to withdraw her complaint at anytime and as he also knows it, he may not directly do much in this matter and hence may take an indirect approach. It means he may tell you that your son-in-law is a crooked person, he’ll trouble your daughter even more in future and hence you should not withdraw this case; and you should instead put him behind bars for the wrong doings done by him to your daughter.
If you still express your wish to reconcile, he may give you another reason and it may go on until he’s run out of the imaginary reasons and the real reason may come out of him. This is the time he may tell you that if all you wanted was a reconciliation; you should have told this to him when you first came for help. You said you wanted to put your son-in-law behind bars and you should stick to your word now. He may then say that in order to help you, he’s done so much effort and he’s even born insult. If you settle like this now, how will his insult be compensated?
This is what he may truly want. His ego may have got attached to this case and it may settle for nothing less than prison for your son-in-law or at least a due apology from him that he’s truly sorry for challenging his authority. You see, you’ve got yourself in trouble now. In the beginning, you valued him high for making a clear promise to you but now the same promise has become the cause of trouble for you. This person may not be willing to let go of his promise now and instead he may convince you to keep your word also, that you want to put your son-in-law behind bars.
The person who looked so good to you may suddenly start looking like a difficult to handle person and you may find yourself in trouble. There may only be two ways out of this problem now. The first way is for you to convince your son-in-law that he should come to this person and duly apologize for the challenges he made. Your son-in-law may not be willing to do so and even if he does so under pressure, this may lay the foundation of future problems between the couple. This is because your son-in-law may take it as an insult and as you may understand, the only person he’s capable of settling this score with is your daughter.
The other way out is that you don’t do anything he wishes you to do and you leave him dissatisfied. If you choose this option, kindly understand that you’ve lost his support for future and the chances are high that he may indirectly trouble you in future; and especially your son-in-law. This is how people with high egos operate and this is why you should be careful while dealing with them. Many of them may genuinely offer you help to start with, but before you know and even before they know, such acts of help may become the acts to satisfy their egos and this is when it may become difficult to disengage them from such acts, if the circumstances so demand.
Imagine another scenario and consider that this person is resourceful and he has high conscience instead of having high ego. In this case, when you go to him, he may not give you a promise of putting your son-in-law behind bars. He may instead say that he’ll do the best he can and he’ll try to ensure your purpose is served. It may not look as good a line in the beginning as it did in the first case; it may turn out much better than that, later on.
When he says that he’ll try to ensure your purpose is served, he may already have this option in mind that though you want to see your son-in-law behind bars, the matter may ultimately end up in a settlement and even he may be in favor of such settlement. It should be noted that for a person with high ego, everything is all about winning or losing whereas for a person with high conscious, everything is all about universal well being. Hence he may have already thought that if the situation turned out to be so that reconciliation became the best option, they’d take it.
Accordingly, he may help you in a way that your daughter may finally benefit in the end and not in a way that he should have one more victory in the end. Hence he may welcome your decision of reconciliation when you deliver it to him and in fact, he may himself start putting it into your mind from the beginning; that at a later stage, if you’re offered a chance to reconcile and you find it good, you should do so. Hence the approach of this man may be to keep war as the last option and peace as the first option. This is how the unclear promise of a man with high conscious can prove better than the so called clear promise of a man with high ego, in many cases.
Let’s now go back in time and look at one of my favorite examples from Hindu mythology, in order to understand the true value of a promise from lord Krishna himself. Before the war of Mahabharata began, representatives from both sides went to lord Krishna for his support. Duryodhana went from the side of Kauravas and Arjuna went from the side of Pandvas, in order to ask for support. Lord Krishna offered Arjuna to choose one option between him with the condition that he wouldn’t use any weapons which meant he wouldn’t directly fight this war but he’d do his best to help his side win this war; and between his army which was one of the largest armies of that time.
Lord Krishna told Arjuna that whichever option he chose, the other option would be given to Duryodhana. Having heard this, Arjuna chose weaponless lord Krishna and hence the army was ordered to fight in favor of Duryodhana. The war started and a moment came when Arjuna refused to kill Bheeshma who was his grandfather and who was fighting from the opposite side. Bheeshma was a great warrior and except Arjuna, no warrior could match him. The war started to turn in favor of Kauravas but Arjuna refused to kill Bheeshma, despite lord Krishna motivating him again and again. For readers who don’t know this story; Lord Krishna took the job of being Arjuna’s charioteer in this war.
Seeing this, lord Krishna called for Sudarshna which was one of the deadliest weapons of that time and which never failed. As lord Krishna was about to launch Sudarshna in order to kill Bheeshma; the latter bowed to the lord and said it would be his greatest fortune to be killed by the lord himself. He then reminded the lord that he had promised not to use any weapon and if he killed him with Sudarshna, the lord would become guilty of breaking his promise.
Hearing this, lord Krishna said that in the present situation, only two options were available. If he kept his promise, his side would lose this war as Bheeshma alone was capable of winning it for his side, if Arjuna didn’t stop him. The second option was to break his promise and kill Bheeshma. This way, he would break his promise but at the same time, his side would win. The lord then said that since his side is the side representing the truth, it must win in order for justice to prevail.
Hence he said that under the present situation, the victory of truth and the prevalence of justice were much more important than his promise. Therefore, if it came to choose between his promise and victory of truth, he would choose the latter. Accordingly, he would kill Bheeshma with Sudarshna and he would not care if the world called him a promise breaker. The promise of an individual could not be more valuable than truth and justice. Hearing this, Arjuna got enlightened, he asked lord Krishna for forgiveness and he engaged in war against Bheeshma. This war was ultimately won by Pandvas.
There are two ways of looking at this incident. The way a person with high ego may look at it is that no matter what, if lord Krishna made a promise, he was bound to keep it, even if the war was lost. The second way is the way of a person with high conscience who finds this incident beautiful and inspiring. This is because lord Krishna is willing to sacrifice his promise and he’s even willing to face disgrace, in order to ensure universal well being. Kindly understand that when you’re the most respected person of your time, like lord Krishna, it becomes supremely important to keep your words.
However, lord Krishna chose to break his promise in favor of universal will, though doing so might have given some people a reason to talk ill about him. Lord Krishna didn’t care about this and for him, universal well being was much more important than his promise. Breaking a promise can certainly hurt your ego but only if you have one. Lord Krishna was all conscience and no ego. Hence he always did what he felt was the right thing to do according to a given situation and he didn’t care whether it brought him good name or bad name.