Prejudice is considered incorrect behaviour, yet we create it and place it upon ourselves. To say that we do things because we are a Kiwi, Canadian, Indian, Jew, Christian, Chinese and so on, is to place that stereotype upon ourselves.
An animal in a cage is a frustrated animal. The way to cage a human is to limit their capacity to be themselves. We place each other in a box, rightfully so in some cases, but nonetheless, that is limiting and incorrect. We even do this to ourselves.
We deliberately place ourselves in a box and limit our own potential or ability to be what we are as individuals by associating and referring to ourselves as a part of a group, culture or profession. The uniqueness of each culture, and the experience of those differences is what makes life enjoyable and fascinating. I am by no means saying to eliminate differences and make us all identical, but realise you are doing it because you have learnt to do it. Do what you do by choice because you feel it is right.
If you say you do something because you are part of a certain group, then you have put yourself in a box and have restricted your possibilities to be unique. This goes for conscious and unconsciously learnt habits. Food is a common example, what the Chinese eat, or the Africans or the Europeans. Certainly each culture has their cuisine, but you, the individual you, do you eat certain foods only because that is your culture? How many other limitations do you have based on culture?
When we place ourselves in a box of any particular kind, we have equated our individual unique character to a trapped animal in a cage, and of course that will make you frustrated. Frustration eventually has to vent and the way it does is in an angry conflict. The worst part of frustration of this nature is that we rarely see its source. We can be frustrated with life and not know why. If you are in that situation, look at the things that put you in a cage, those that are imposed from outside, and those that you have chosen to impose upon your self. You may have some goals in your life that are not being achieved because of some subconscious fixation on a cultural preference.
Our culture has taught us to be a certain way, our sex has given us certain ways of being, enhanced by societal conformity of how a male or a female should be. We are told to act our age, our position in life with a family, profession and so on. But who said to act like you?
Understanding the cause of anger is crucial to eliminating it. We know we get angry, but often we don’t know why. We can identity that this or that set us off, but logically examining it, there was no justification for the reaction. So what is it that creates this storehouse of energy that vents in confrontations and conflicts, and in some cases, seeks out situations in which a conflict will ensue so it can blow off some steam.
Frustration is the seed that grows inside us and blossoms into anger which bears its fruit in conflicts. Yes, these emotions are growing and bearing fruit, all be it a bitter fruit, which blossoms into seeds which spread and invade the minds of other people who brush up against it.
The elimination of frustration is a good step to the elimination of anger and conflicts. If two people who are frustrated meet, there is a good chance a conflict will develop. But if one person is ripe to have a fight meets up with another person who has eliminated frustration from their life and therefore does not contain the energy of conflict, nothing bad will happen.
There are many sources of frustration in our lives. This chapter is about being in a box, consciously or not, put there by ourselves or not, and how that builds frustration. We notice and disdain anyone who puts us in a box, and then we turn around and say, “I am a member of this and that group, and we hate being put in boxes or looked at as all the same” What better example of hypocrisy is there than this!
There is nothing wrong with belonging to any sort of group, that is a natural part of the social aspect of being human, but are you still being you while feeding that need? Are you that culture or are you something that has been brought up in that culture and wants to experience more. There is only one thing that can never be taken away from you and that is your experiences.
Wealth of experiences is wealth in character.
The exercise for this chapter is to observe how you identify yourself with a particular group. Notice if your actions encourage how you want to be or are you following a crowd and doing things just because that is the way it is done.
Practice doing what you think is the right thing to do and live of your own volition rather than because someone told you that is the way to do it. Cultivate your individuality within the confines of correct conduct.
You will find that many inner conflicts will be resolved once you decide to live your life based on what you feel is right rather than what you are told is right. I have met some people who are in conflict about having children. They are not certain they want children but think they should have them. When I asked why they want kids, the reply is; “That’s the thing to do.” If we make the most important decision a human could make, bringing another soul into this world, based on being told that is the thing to do even though we may have some feeling that it is not right for us, then how can your life be balanced and filled with inner peace? And what are you going to produce?
Apply this example to everything you do, your profession, where you live, how you live, your religion, every decision of every day. Do live based on your own feelings or are you just a robot.
Correct conduct can be judged by how many people have you hurt today.
Include how many times you have hurt yourself in that count.
Look for areas in your life that you find frustrating and limiting and do your best to change them by realising that you yourself are the foundation of those limitations, and therefore you have the power to change them by being anyone you want to be. No one is putting a gun to your head and making you do anything at all, it is all up to you. You have freedom of choice if you choose to use it.
All this can only be achieved by a free person. If you live in a cage of identification to who you are based on colour, race, country, political alliances, associations of any sort, then you are locked in that cage, albeit a large cage, but nonetheless, you are in a cage.
From this moment on, when you are asked your religion, culture, or any other identifying questions, stop and ponder the question before you respond and go back in time to before your mother and father were born. Who were you then?
Any alliance to any fixed concept is a locked cage.