Mental Help Net
Wellness and Personal Development
Basic InformationLatest NewsBlog EntriesVideosLinksBook Reviews
Therapist Search
Find a Therapist:
 (USA/CAN only)

Use our Advanced Search to locate a therapist outside of North America.

Related Topics

Anger Management
Stress Reduction and Management
Weight Loss
Emotional Resilience

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
Blogs about inhabiting this present moment

The Fun House of Mirrors Seeing Light in Everyone

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 3rd 2014

The world is a looking-glass,
and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.
Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you;
laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion...
—William Makepeace Thackeray, from Vanity Fair

mirrorThe experience of walking through a fun house of mirrors offers a metaphor for what is real and what is illusion. Having sampled this experience, people laugh at themselves or others that appear distorted—bodies that look short and round, long and tall, or twisted and squiggly. Egos place everyone in compartments—age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, attractiveness, body type and so on—that are usually taken seriously. Are these attributes any less ridiculous then the fun house caricatures?

Sage Ramana Maharshi offers a complementary example. Images of fire and ashes, water and destruction appear on a cinema screen, but the dry screen remains unscathed. The projected images are not real; only the screen and its light are real.

The perceptions, the very lenses one peers through, are in fact grist for the mill of healing. In an oddly ironic way, there is no one "out there" other than oneself. Whomever one rejects or accepts, shuns or embraces, loves or hates is oneself. The possibility is to see through each mirrored image as no one projecting nothing onto no one, and purely a figment of one's imagination. A still mind that accurately reflects reality sees Truth.

A mirror is a lovely metaphor for essential Being and True Nature since at once it is steady, unchanging and empty as well as transparently reflecting all it beholds. In other words, a mirror gives you a taste of both the timeless nondual Absolute with its subtle stillness of space itself and a taste of time-bound duality in the empirical world with the movement of experiencing perceptions, feelings, thoughts and actions all at once.

The mirror reflects the image but the image does not improve the mirror. You are neither the mirror nor the image.
—Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That

On the level of ego in the relative world, one keeps "running into oneself"; that is, running into one's current level of consciousness. One is ever attracting and engaging one's present developmental level of consciousness. This is a spiritual principle: one will not attract anything unless there is something inside of oneself to attract it and draw it to one. Submissive, passive people may attract dominant, aggressive persons (and vice versa), each drawing to them what is unfinished within that person. Each one is a vital complementary resource in completing what is unconsciously incomplete. Each has an opportunity to face the next level of developing consciousness and transform oneself.

Similarly, greedy people looking for a good deal often find con artists eager to offer them nothing, but at a terrific price! With this opportunity, both can learn about greed and responsibility, exercising good judgment and maturing. Until the lesson penetrates deeply into one's being as reflected in intention and behavior, the same pattern is repeated. Freud named this "repetition compulsion." One who is aware can see this feedback as the surfacing of unfinished programming and conditioning.

I am only acting as a mirror to your life, in which you can see yourself as you are; then you can throw away the mirror; the mirror is not important.
—Jiddu Krishnamurti

Once one transcends a previous level of consciousness, not only does one no longer attract such experiences, one actually releases and surrenders them. One outgrows experiences of that previous level. Thus, in every moment, it is clear that one's present level of consciousness is precisely what is in this life, what is attracting and selecting, tightly holding or freely letting go, every moment.

Everyone lives according to one's own level of consciousness, along with anything that is incomplete in one's openness to being whole, being One. One tells others what one is here to hear, just as everyone is teaching others what is essential to learn oneself. A Zen saying goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." Equally, "When the teacher is ready, the student appears." Therapists find the most fitting clients and vice versa. We all find ourselves in each other.


Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician in private practice in Pleasanton, CA in the East San Francisco Bay area. Licensed as a psychologist in California since 1987 and in the field since 1976, he specializes in Presence-centered therapy principally with adults and couples. Presence-centered therapy is a conscious attuning to the richness of this present moment (sometimes called mindfulness or wakefulness) along with witnessing, that is, observing what the mind is up to now by looking from outside of it. His practice is centered upon inhabiting this present moment, witnessing and "buying out" of the ego-mind's unworkable patterns, desensitizing root emotional charges, and gaining effective tools to thrive in the world. He specializes in providing therapy for adults facing anxiety, significant stress, work issues, relationship challenges and depression as well as couples with marital issues, communication issues, self-defeating behavior, divorce mediation, co-parenting and pre-marital counseling. Core to his approach is installing, building and developing strong internal resources, an enhanced capacity to hold, bear and tolerate strong emotions, and highly adaptive tools to better thrive in the world.He can be reached directly through his website (featuring over 215 articles, 27 YouTube videos and pages upon pages of highly practical annotated resource links) or by email at . Dr. Friedman is available for business consulting, business training and executive coaching (detail on his home page).

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Follow us on Twitter!

Find us on Facebook!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.

Powered by CenterSite.Net