I am afraid that my neighbours will find out – that my dog prefers their grass and leaves over mine. Watching my dog devour my neighbour’s plants made me wonder if he thinks the foilage tastes better on that side. To be honest, dogs are far superior to humans when looking after their well-being, so I doubt my dog compares. (Now, why is he eating grass is a conversation for a different blog)
But the fact that I think he compares is a projection of my thoughts and humankind in general. Human beings are conditioned from childhood to compare themselves with others – because, in some ways, that’s who we find out who we are. I am better at sports or best at education. Without this comparison, most humans would not know who they are – because, sadly, they only know themselves based on where they stand compared to others. Some humans may not use comparison at an individual level but may identify with caste, country, sports team, company… the list is endless.
The Ego in us needs the identity – comparison to know how is it doing. If there was no comparison, how would the Ego ensure that it is better than others? It does not matter what the thing is but the Ego needs to have more. It could be more money, education, prestige, sickness, poverty, or victimisation.
Society and the world around us survive on comparison – the world’s richest list, the best movies list, the top X things, most watched shows or movies. Or, it could be the sports team, beauty pageants, which products are best sellers, reviews, or ratings. It is so common, and we never stop and wonder at the number of comparisons we make.
Comparisons are not wrong by themselves – they serve their purpose. Reviews help us understand what is good or bad about the product. What would be the point of a sport if the teams did not compete against each other. The problem arises when we start to know ourselves from the comparisons.
When I came to Columbus, Ohio, from London, I went through a mini self-identity crisis. In London – London Business School has prestige, and I took it for granted when I was there, but when I came to Columbus, it was just another degree. And I wondered who I was without the degree from THE London Business School. Similarly, most of us have our identities hidden in comparisons like a better developer, doing more work in social enterprises, meditating for a long time etc.
In the end, all this comparison and identity is pointless. It’s like the ripples on the ocean comparing themselves against each other – Ripple, Wave, Tide or Tsunami. They are all part of the ocean regardless of their size and shape. It definitely makes life a lot interesting with all these different shapes in the water, but a ripple at the end of the day arises from the ocean and goes back into the ocean. Similarly, we can have all these comparisons and identities, but at the end of the day, we are all one consciousness.
Who are you identified with – Ripple or Ocean?