QA147 QUESTION: Why is it so difficult to accept being average?
ANSWER: In the first place, the word “average” can and often is misunderstood, and since there is a confusion about it, that in itself leads to conflict. The confusion is that average seems to mean not good, inferior, inadequate, mediocre. On the other hand, if the word “average” is properly understood, it means “to have in common with all humanity” – not only the limitations, but also the assets already realized or the assets that are potentially realizable.
Now, in that sense, being average is not a threat or implies inferiority. But even if it is properly understood, it still is difficult to accept for many human beings because it seems to them that one has to be better than others in order to be acceptable, loveable, worthy, valuable, deserving of respect. This is a very deep-rooted confusion, existing to some extent, in almost all human psyches.
Because of this overall confusion, societies are being built on an entirely wrong concept. They are being built on the concept of comparing and measuring oneself with the other person, which you know from our discussions is a distortion. But, it is not sufficiently clear in the minds and even in the superficial intellects of most of my friends, that this comparing misses the point of what is a human being.
It also implies trying to be better, getting the better over, winning out over, belittling the other, and setting oneself up. It may not be thought of in these words, but it must amount to this in the final analysis.
Now, whenever any one of you is fearful of others or afraid of competition, for example, it means exactly the same as he who wildly competes and even seems to succeed in triumphing over others. It is merely the other side of the coin – he who withdraws from the competition.
For him, competition is a winning out over and being better than others, and is so important that he is fearful of not succeeding. He who seems to succeed, or at least occasionally succeeds in winning out over others, may not withdraw from competition, but he is burdened by anxiety, by guilt, and by uncertainty, because he constantly measures himself on something that cannot be measured. He constantly has a whip behind him.
This is why the pursuit of being better than others – which is the same as not wanting to be average – is so damaging. It implies a separateness that if it is really analyzed says, “I must be the best. I must be better than others, and I do not care whether others are humiliated by my being better. I want to prove my being better, and if this costs the self-respect of others, I do not care.”
Now this attitude is bound to produce guilt, and it is bound to weaken the personality because of the guilt, and because of the threat that one has absolutely no way to know whether or not one can really succeed in this aim. It robs the peace and the self-respect that can only come when you accept yourself as being one out of a large human family.
This attitude of knowing the common faculties of human aspects and qualities and limitations not only brings peace, but paradoxically, as it seems, it also makes it possible for the individual to surpass himself and to truly become his very best. He can only be or become his very best if he is free from guilt, if he is free from anxiety, if he is totally convinced that his strivings fulfill a worthy goal.
It can never be a worthy goal if one has to belittle someone else. Therefore, the best potentials can only be realized and put into actuality when the attention is directly concerned with the activity one undertakes.
In other words, it makes a great deal of difference when the activity is undertaken with the vague idea, “I have to prove my superiority over others,” or when it is undertaken in the pure spirit, unpolluted by this other motivation, “I want to do this for the sake of itself.” This I have often said.
Whether this be for the sake of itself or as an activity that benefits others or even oneself, it is perfectly all right. If the activity is honest, it cannot harm others. For only in being happy can you add to other people’s happiness. Only in being happy and fulfilled can you contribute to the fulfillment of others.
So it is not selfish if an aim is destined to expand your own pleasure, if it is destined to widen the horizon and perception of the greatness, and the variety and possibility of pleasure and fulfillment and joy.
It cannot do that when even a small percentage of your motivation is geared to putting someone down in order to aggrandize yourself. Then, even the apparently selfish pleasure becomes unrealizable. The apparently selfish pleasure cannot produce guilt if it is pure in its aim, and therefore will ultimately not be selfish.
This is an extremely important point to realize, my friends, because it is a whole upset of inner balance when you are motivated by self-aggrandizement, which must always be at the expense of others. You must shortchange others and, therefore, ultimately yourself. You must hinder the process of full self-realization, where you truly become the best that you ever can be. If you want to call this average or not does not matter.
One might say, it is average that each human being contains greatness, and the possibility for greatness. This is an average, all-over human trait. It may not be realized, or activated, but it nevertheless exists. By the same token, it is average that you have limitations. When you accept all of them and do not try to be better than others, love is fostered. Union is fostered.
When you try to deny the sameness that unites you with all other creatures, when you set yourself above others, you must wind up way below your standards and also apparently, or really or both, below the standards of the so-called average person.
Anyone who pursues this Pathwork and finds sooner or later these aspects within himself, inevitably finds that these words are true. He or she may shy away from seeing this and admitting this because it seems so humiliating to accept one’s limitations, to come down from the height and be like others.
But he who has the honesty and courage to want to do this, and therefore to ultimately succeed in doing this, finds himself in the apparently paradoxical situation that by that very process he rises up – not above others, because comparison no longer matters or exists – but he rises up in himself and becomes more and more of himself.
So, on the road to self-activation, the pride and the arrogance and the cruelty that always is implied in the aim of triumphing over others, must be abandoned. It must be understood that the refusal to accept the common bonds with other humans even contains elements of cruelty to some extent.
They may not be actively executed, but in the emotions, in the emotional aim, cruelty exists, along with anxiety, guilt, and such an insecurity that nothing can be measured with any certainty. Therefore, the price for something unrealizable anyway is much too high, and he who realizes this and abandons the claim to be special finds relief and peace from a burden he had never fully appreciated, that he has carried around.