Q: And notice how often you put yourself down.
R: Tell yourself off.
Q(1): For thinking it!
R: One discovers that the way one tells oneself off; if one were to talk to another person like that – a friend – one would not have any friends left. You have to live with yourself twenty four hours a day; if you are talking to yourself in such a way that you are not a good friend to yourself, then what are you doing? If I were to talk like that to you, be sharp with you, you would have nothing to do with me. Are you not sharp upon yourself?
Q(1): I am very sharp upon myself.
R: It is a good thing to become friends with yourself, to decide not to tell yourself off any more: ‘Okay, I will make mistakes from time to time, because I am still human, but if I ‘goof-up’ I will not exacerbate the situation by imposing a condemnation upon myself.’ One always has another chance, another moment in which to do better, to make it work this time. It is always a quick thought, a swift reproach: ‘Oh, you fool!’ or ‘You shouldn’t do that!’ or ‘How stupid!’
Q: Or you’re not good enough: ‘You should know better than that!’
R: It is good to cease doing that because only you live with yourself for the twenty four hours of the day. Everybody else comes and goes, but you remain, ever constant … for the rest of your life. I can not stress enough how important it is for you to be your own best friend. For then you get to know yourself – you are no longer against yourself. You can discover things about your own make-up: ‘Oh, isn’t that interesting’ or ‘I like that one’ or ‘I didn’t know I was carrying that’ or ‘I’m glad that one is out of the way’. Sometimes, of course, something can come back, three days, three weeks or three months later: ‘Goodness me, I thought I had eliminated that one’. See how vital it is that you are your own best ‘buddy’? You say: ‘Well, I thought I had dealt with that but never mind, I have another moment here, another chance’. This way you work with yourself, instead of in opposition. It is very important.
And it is such good fun! Then, everything you do in your daily life, moment to moment, is taking advantage of multiple opportunities. Every moment again is an occasion to improve your lot … when you are interacting with someone, either face to face or on the telephone … or a back-ache: ‘Oh god, how terrible!’ … another opportunity. It is bad enough to feel pain, why make it worse by adding an emotional suffering like ‘I feel terrible’? To feel terrible, emotionally, on top of the physical pain is simply silly when it is possible to disentagle oneself, emotionally, and still feel good about being alive, about being here. This is being sensible, is it not? To feel good, if not happy, all the time?
Enjoying one’s own company
VINEETO: By getting rid of my own complaints, boredom, annoyance and irritation I succeeded in enjoying my own company and I increasingly became aware that I like my fellow human beings. With this liking comes hand-in-glove an appreciation of my fellow human beings and an admiration of the astounding human ingenuity and caring in many fields of science, engineering, health and safety.
One thing that played a major part in my increasingly liking people-as-they-are was the acknowledgement of my own malice and sorrow, that I recognized it as being due to the human condition and that I understood that everybody, through no fault of their own, is born into the same human condition. I then put this intellectual understanding into daily practice whenever I interacted directly with people, read or heard of other people or read or heard of other people’s views of other people.
Nevertheless, I am often left bewildered at the fact that most people prefer to remain in the situation they find themselves in. But then again, most people I know choose to spend their lives as they do – my aim is to live in peace and harmony with people-as-they-are, without exception.
VINEETO: Just to clarify – when I said that ‘I genuinely enjoy the company of anybody with whom I interact’ I did not mean to indicate that my day is filled with social interactions (editor’s note: see also Instinctual Treadmill). I have far less interactions than I used to have in my days of needing to belong to social groups. I take pleasure in being at home where I enjoy my own company as well as Peter’s.
The terms ‘loner’ or ‘hermit’ usually carry an implication of social values that I no longer subscribe to – values that apply ‘in the marketplace where there is a premium on acquired social ‘skills’’, as you say. I may be a ‘hermit’ in other people’s eyes because I don’t frequent the pub or go to social gatherings but I am not ‘hermit’ who retreats from the world despising the company of others.
With no social identity to maintain and no social ladder to climb I am now free to set my own pace as to how I like to spend my time – except for the time that I sell for a living, in which case the pace is set by those who employ me.
VINEETO: I was quite happy to be alone many times in my life and I certainly had many, many days when I was unhappy when I was not alone as in being in a relationship. One thing that became obvious to me early on in my investigations into the human condition was that it was essential that I be happy alone – or that I alone needed to be happy – if I at all wanted to be happy whilst living with a companion. Or to put it another way, if I was not happy with my own company, how could I expect another to be happy with my company?
PETER: I also found it essential to stop beating myself up and start liking myself, to start to enjoy my own company which in turn led me to start being interested in being here, which in turn led to a naïve curiosity about life, the universe and what it is to be a human being.