We cannot function practically without making some assumptions about ourselves, people and events and the universe in general. After all, it is impossible to get to the complete truth about anything. In a way, assumptions keep us sane. Just think about this: what would happen if we doubt everything and everyone with great intensity? But when our assumptions prove to be correct, we accept them as rules or absolute truths. But are assumptions proved correct because of our belief in them or because they are objectively true? When it comes to our relationships with ourselves and other human beings, more often than not, it is the former.
There are two assumptions that we make very early on in our lives:
1. . Solitude is abnormal
Solitude is a taboo and even beats sex, homosexuality and death in some parts of the world. It is natural to seek companionship. But why are we so close-minded when it comes to solitude? Solitude is indeed dangerous because you go to a completely unknown territory. And by solitude, I don’t mean physical solitude. We can live in Himalayas and still have a crowd in our heads. Solitude is going to a place in your head where you become totally alone: who are you without ideas, opinions, belief systems, language, sensations etc? For me, the best way to describe solitude is going back to your mother’s womb.
Human beings have visited different planets, the moon but they are still afraid of the content in their heads. Most of us are taught very early on that aloneness will kill us and make us sick. We are taught that we will become anti-social and we will be harmful to the society (it is a possibility but anti-social people hate themselves and hate solitude, don’t they?) But there are few people who have lived alone and have actually discovered the opposite: they have found universal love! Maybe, the critics of solitude should understand that solitude by itself is neutral: some people misuse it to harm the society while some people become more compassionate. It depends on the individual, so why do you condemn solitude?
When we assume that solitude is abnormal and that it is impossible for us to be alone in our heads, we form relationships that are not really out of choice but are out of dependency. We don’t explore ourselves and hence, we don’t know who we are. So, when a person who doesn’t know who he/she is, forms a relationship with another person who doesn’t know himself/herself, it becomes chaotic because we cover up our lack of knowledge with beliefs and impose those beliefs on the other. All the violence in the world happens because of lack of self-knowledge which can be only obtained through solitude.
2. I won’t find people who think like me
If assumption #1 is questioned, this assumption won’t trouble us much. When we assume and through self-fulfilling prophecies prove that it is impossible to be our own best friend, we look for solutions to the perceived problem. We start looking for people who think like us, who share our beliefs, eccentricities, dreams etc. More often than not, we give up on our dreams or our convictions not because we are afraid of poverty or death but because the unconventional path is lonely.
When we believe this assumption, we get frustrated when we don’t find people who think like us. What’s worse is that we inflict pain on the people who don’t think like us. We take out our frustration on them. We blame them: if only these people were like me, I would have been so happy! We act like dictators, we try to ‘convert’ them because we see no possibility of finding people like us. This leads to physical and emotional violence. The other solution is to inflict violence upon ourselves: we try hard to change our interests, passions etc.
Despite these deep rooted beliefs, we encounter evidence that is contrary. We hear about people who have done things that we wanted to do. But our beliefs are so strong that we dismiss them with, “No, I can never be so lucky. It is impossible. That person is faking it.”
You will be surprised to hear this but there are communities of men who believe that women deserve to be raped! Even suicide bombers and terrorists find people who think like them (that’s why there are terrorist ‘organizations’!). On the positive side, there are communities for people who want to share esoteric knowledge. There are even people who practice obscure forms of U.F.O religion! If such extremists can find like-minded people then why can’t we?
It is of course, very tough to find like-minded people if we are not ‘mainstream.’ But the quest makes us richer and when we finally find kindred spirits, the struggle of finding them gives us the joy.