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I have noticed that an interesting disparity exists between how we treat ourselves and how we treat others, and that our society holds a double standard in regards to this.

We have rules, regulations and customs governing our conduct in society which prescribe and instruct us on how to interact with other people, which tell us what is and what is not acceptable social behaviour.

Yet there seems to be no social contract and no established set of morals that are concerned with how we treat ourselves. Morals, ethics and laws seem to only cover interpersonal relationships. Sure, the society becomes concerned if you harm yourself on a physical level, yet it is completely indifferent to the way your mind assaults and violates you.

Seemingly we live in an orderly and law-abiding society which we all pride ourselves on, yet in our inner world, no laws or boundaries are sacred. The things that you would never do to other people you do freely to yourself and if you did treat other people this way, you would be censored, punished or ostracised by the society.

With inner attacks, it seems that anything goes for they are not seen by other people and so are immune from their judgements and condemnations. Because they are inwardly directed, these acts of violence are free from the moral bounds that constrain our actions towards other people.

Also, because these attacks occur on the inner level, society doesn't take them very seriously. The very language that it uses to describe inner aggression, such as for example: "Stop being neurotic and pull yourself together. You are being self-indulgent and navel-gazing, while other people in the world are having real problems and undergoing real suffering. Snap out of it." reflects the dismissive and belittling attitude that society holds towards the self-abuse that the mind inflicts upon you.

The other salient difference between outer and inner aggression is that while in the outer world you can get help from others or the law against attacks, in the inner world it is entirely up to you to protect yourself against the mind. Certainly, you can get advice from others about the various defence strategies that you could employ but ultimately you are all alone on the battlefield and it is a fight between just you and the mind.

Boris Glikman

Submitted to

Swami Shankarananda gave a talk about this piece at the satsung on 11, Nov. 2006. Hear the full satsung (approx. 50 min. 20mb mp3 files), live streaming satsung on Saturday nights and many others recordings at the ashram website
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