Why do we watch other people?
Today, Michael and I were nailing pallets together making a compost bin. I gave some very short nails to Michael to nail thin boards onto the pallets and gave a warning: “Be careful that you don’t hit you finger with the hammer. You have to pay close attention when the nails are shorter.” Then, BeiYin shared this joke:
The preacher is repairing the church fence. A boy is standing nearby for a long while.
The preacher asks him: “Do you want to speak with me, my son?”
The boy replies: “No, I’m just waiting.”
The pastor asks: “Waiting for what?”
The boy says: “I’m waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his finger with a hammer.”
Well, we all know what the preacher might say if he were to lose his presence…
I can imagine that the boy in the joke had probably been told by a parent not to swear or God would be angry with him. Then I can see him coming up with this idea to get a proof that even the parents couldn’t argue with. Probably the boy wanted to be able to swear feeling important to peers, but also not knowing about God and his vengeance he didn’t want to risk too much. If the boy could get evidence that even preacher’s swear ‘at times’, then he would have an ironclad defense to be able to swear as he wanted.
There is another deeper aspect to this joke, and it is that we predominately watch other people for the purpose to gather evidence to support our personal viewpoint.
As we are, the ‘personality’ is a lie, and our biggest fear is that this truth will be found out. The last thing the personality wants to know is that, ‘as it is’ it is a fake and so to avoid one’s own conclusion of this reality, one has to prove to other people that it’s not fake. The personality survives by actively and continuously getting confirmation to support one’s own viewpoints. Given this aspect, all doings of the personality are entirely defensive by nature. All action coming from one’s personality are for the purpose to protect one’s self-image and the information being collected through observation are solely to convince oneself of how one is seeing things, to keep our lie in existence. So inside, we have a conviction that we want to prove that is part of our personality, and then we go about trying to gather evidence for it’s truth on the outside.
One typical way we like to prove an aspect of the lie we are telling ourselves is to do so by using other people. This we can do in various ways through what we do or say, demonstrating our great asset. So then people go to great lengths to become physically adept in the assets they value most highly about themselves, to be able to demonstrate or prove their proficiency to others to get back their self-confirmation. In conversation with others if we can find like-minded people who agree at the intellectual level with how we are seeing things, then this is the easiest way to receive confirmation of one’s viewpoint.
In general, if you look near to most conversations then you will see the different aspects of confirmation going on under the surface, either people are seeking to get others to agree with them, directly disagreeing with others, or they are expressing ‘some great aspect about themselves’, ‘how they know something’, ‘something they can do’, etc.
So in summary, I see that the intent of all our actions, whether passive or active, are to get self-confirmation for our lie. As long as this is true, then we aren’t able to purely observe anything – not ourselves and not others – instead our ‘act of watching’ others comes from our need to confirm our inside viewpoints, looking to gather information the way we want to see it, in order to prove to ourselves that how we want to see things is true.