QA139 QUESTION: Would you say a few words about a very strong wash compulsion that I have?
ANSWER: Yes. I’ll be glad to, for it is indeed an important problem. You see, whatever the psychological reasons behind this, this will not be difficult for you to work out. It is so almost self-evident, I will not use too many words for that, except just to say briefly that it symbolizes your fear of the world, your fear of others. It is symbolized by the fact, “Everything is dirty and dangerous, and I withdraw from living, and I live in a glass cage. I put something between me and others so as not to contaminate myself with that dangerous feeling.”
Again, this is a projection of your own resentments, which are a result of your unreal concepts. Now, my advice about how to approach this problem on a more direct scale – indirectly it will go away as you proceed in this work anyhow – is that on the entirely conscious level, on the outermost level, when you feel compelled to wash, ask yourself why you do it.
You will come up in all probability with answers such as, “I will be dirty, and this dirt will harm me.” And then ask yourself, “Is it true that this dirt will harm me? Why does it not harm other people? Why should I be harmed? If it is not true and I cling to this wrong concept, why do I do this? Maybe I use it as a subterfuge. Maybe this is not true that I even believe it will harm me. Maybe on a deeper level I playact. What do I really express when I do this? What is behind this wash compulsion? How much do I miss out in life by this, and what is the significance and the implications of this compulsion?” Look at this in reality.
You have to come to the point where you discover that this is not a real belief you have – that you will be harmed by dirt. It is a displacement you almost playfully use inside of your psyche. But all of these playfully using, destructive and separating acts become stark reality. Because one loses control over what was once instituted as a deliberate act, but which then controls you.
This wash compulsion has you in its grip now. It prevents you from many things. It makes life difficult for you. It induces you to build your life in many ways around this, so that you become a slave to a misconception. You cannot lose this unless and until you are fully and objectively aware of the fact that this is so, and how much you are enslaved and how much this is a misconception.
Only when this is the case – when you fully realize that you are enslaved to a misconception – will you then pronounce and mean the intent and the wish: you no longer wish this state to continue. As it is, you cling to it. You do not want to give it up.
You do not want to give it up because you do not allow yourself to objectively see that you are enslaved to an error, to an untruth, to a lie. It is not true you will be harmed when you touch this or when you do not instantly wash.