Do you realize how we imitate one another a lot, all the time? It is not a conscious choice – it is part of the way the mind works. I’m sure you do observe very frequently that whenever someone around you yawns, you could not help but yawn too, unless you are conscious of the act before it arises. We are unconsciously picking up behaviors. It was said that our behavior is being observed and mimicked by our children all the time. I also observe that when one is in a group for a long period of time, he or she will pick up significant characters – either for the sake of blending into the group, as a kind of tribal instinct to feel belong or, as a conscious act of improving one’s life. Rarely, the latter applies.
Is this mimicking occurring all the time? You bet so. The mind learns through what comes into its senses. It picks and chooses what it thinks is appropriate – either from wisdom or ignorance. In truth, our personality is a summation of ideas – ideas that comes through our experiences. We are all great copycats, so to speak.
I do also observe similar patterns arising between spousal, teacher and student, and also amongst friends. Spousal co-dependencies are a common pattern of this mimicking, as a process to blend into a relationship. It takes deep commitment to move out from such conditioning, more so when either one wish to outgrow the other in term of spiritual growth.
Does our personality evolve around people whom we mix with? Could it be because of this unconscious act that many Masters encourage disciples not to associate with the fools but with the wise? This can be explained by the law of causal relationship occurring in every one of us. We could also refer this to the law of attraction. By default we grow by learning what is within our parameter of experiences. Like it or not, the Ying will always attract the opposite, the Yang. Like process of osmosis, both of these forces intermingle with each other to blend into balance. If we have wisdom as our root, we will only pick up what is essential for our growth. If ignorance is the command of our being, we can be sure of picking up stuff that is unnecessary and burdensome!
Mimicking is not the pathway to realization or wisdom but it can be a prerequisite to the journey. Gross characters are detrimental to the peace of mind. When someone mimics the positive qualities of another, a great part of the work is done. But the work does not end there. It is just a means but not the end. Mimicking not just occurs on the body level but also the mind, sometimes refer to as synchronicity.
Minds are attracted to each other, like tuning fork reverberating to one another. We synchronize according to our needs. Even the level of thoughts or wisdom can arrive at the similar level within a group if there is a concerted connection with each other. Modern researches call it morphic field. On many occasions I have observed that what I am blogging here is also being shared by other entries and vice versa around the same period. Similarly when certain new experiences are being achieved by a meditator during a retreat, a deeply-connected friend from home also experience similar realizations in his or her daily living; a far distance from where the retreat is. Could it be for this reason that in certain tradition, a living master is a necessity to the student for the spiritual journey to be accelerated?
The rule of thumb is this – if we really wish to align with nature, we have to work with nature. If we wish to align with wisdom, we have to “rub shoulders” with people who are wise. It is simply a natural law working within this existence and to make full use of it, we learn to listen deeply to the needs of our heart and let it flow towards the direction it chooses to grow by surrendering – surrendering to where our heart is directing us.
Thus it is natural that when we wish to grow spiritually, we are already unconsciously telling the “universe” that we are ready to be molded for growth to take place. And usually, growth can only arise where there are lessons to be learned. So be forewarned that the spiritual journey will take us on a roller coaster ride! To cushion ourselves in the journey, we seek for protection and guidance from higher sources. Remember, ask and you shall be given!
And I do invite you to consider this – when you grow in wisdom, your personality becomes an example to the world. You teach the world through your actions.