I can remember high-school on Monday mornings, where we would recite the characters from the latest Saturday Night Live skits. Later, in the busines world, we became adept at imitating seriousness, obsequiousness to clients, professionality.
We get so good at imitating that we even fool ourselves. We see, we copy, like copying a computer program.
I can imagine a wall covered in floppy disks, on each one written a specific computer program. On one, “Dutiful Son 5.0,” on another, “Top Student 2.7,” on others “Loyal Friend 8.2” or “Exotic Cook 2.0.” We can upload an uncountable number of programs, always ready for updates.
Later, on the spiritual path, we learn to imitate humility, gentleness, and stillness. New disk: “Spiritual Warrior 2.5.”
Then, if we get lucky, we meet our first “saint.” They say that a moment spent in the presence of a saint is your raft over the ocean of delusion. In my case, it only took twenty seconds.
Twenty seconds to understand that there was a way of being that was so natural, so calm and centered, that we are unable to reproduce it from the outside. It wasn’t going to be enough to just add a new program on top of the old ones. This way of being was too revolutionary for that.
Finally, something we can’t imitate. A door opens inside us, and we’re not sure we’ll be up to the task. Finally, we’ll have to ditch all our floppy disks and completely change our operating system.
We will have to become, gasp!, ourselves for once.