Welcome to the Authenticity Test.
By the time you finish this essay, you will know “without a doubt” whether you are an Authentic Person or someone living an Inauthentic Life. If you have any doubts at all, even after you carefully read the entire essay, we will give you your money back, no questions asked. Ok?
Ok. So lets start out by defining some important terms.
Definition of Terms
When we rely on the opinion of others as the basis for our own opinion of ourselves, what we really have is “Else-Esteem”, not “Self-Esteem”.
When our sense of self-worth is derived from the opinion of others what we really have is a sense of “Else-worth”, not “Self-worth”.
Alright. So lets get started.
Here’s a short poem (plagiarized from Alan Watts) that explains the situation:
When a flower blooms, it is being itself–Authentic.
There is nothing shy or remorseful about how it blossoms.
When it comes of age, without the slightest trace of hesitation,
Entirely sure of itself, it springs forth,
as if to say boldly,
“Here I am world! Here I am!”
But why is it, when a teenager girl comes of age,
She stands there, at her debut,
All dressed up, and all made up,
Yet looking rather unsure of herself.
Shy and nervous,
a bit hesitant,
Why is this? Why is it, when our own come of age,
unlike the flowers,
they are so unsure of themselves?
We who have sold our souls to the opinions of others; who care dearly what others think of us, who’s “Else-Esteem” is derived from standards set by external authorities — to us “seeming to be” an authentic person is of paramount importance. Our very sense of self worth depends on it. Such are the woes of an inauthentic life. By allowing our sense of self-worth to be derived from an authority outside of ourselves, unknowingly we had silenced that very inner voice most essential for an authentic life. We see integrity as a series of accomplishments, recognitions, awards, diplomas & certificates. Enslaved to the opinion of others, we cannot help but try to contrive our image. Before long, we suspend our disbelief & become like method actors in our own portrayal of ourselves. We start to believe in our own bullshit(so to speak)–and become genuine imitations. We begin to believe that by emulating the symptoms, we had successfully brought about the cause. Then we teach our children to do the same thing. And so it goes on, to the next generation. And the irony of cosmic proportions is that, the whole thing is done in the name of “authenticity”.
Authenticity: entitled to acceptance of established credibility….
–Oxford English dictionary
SO WHAT IS AUTHENTICITY?
To understand authenticity, it is essential to first have a thorough understanding of what it means to be inauthentic. As light would not be known as “light” if not for the presence of darkness, and as poverty would not be known as “poverty” if not for the presence of opulence, we would not know what authenticity is, if not for the very presence of inauthenticity within us. It is precisely when inauthenticity abounds that authenticity, all of a sudden, becomes so valued and important. It is from within the hollow chambers of our inauthentic lives that the awareness of authenticity first emerges. The more inauthentic our lives become the more we yearn for something real and genuine – something that can legitimize our existence and restore meaning to our contrived lives.
Only to the inauthentic could authenticity become an obsession.
Every inauthentic person out there very well knows that a careful and thorough study of authenticity is paramount for the mimicry of its symptoms. Through emulation or patronage, inauthenticity is what glorifies authenticity. One does not become an eager patron of authentic art because one is authentic. A Van Gogh would not sell for millions, if not for the coveting hands of the inauthentic. It is to fill the hollow chambers of an inauthentic life that authenticity gains its prestige. In an attempt to legitimize oneself through association, the inauthentic are eager to glorify authenticity.
To the authentic, authenticity has no value. In a world of only the authentic, authenticity would not be so treasured, nor celebrated. The authentic are not authentic because they tried to be. The authentic just are. The authentic are, always, just what they are. There is nothing contrived about the authentic. They are genuine, not because they are trying to be, but because they are. Authenticity is not something one learns or acquires. Nor is it something one develops, or grows into.
Authentic is what you already are.
Every rock in existence is Authentic in that no two rocks are exactly alike. Even every Coke Can, fresh out of the production line, when examined under higher levels of magnification show that no two are exactly alike. At the molecular level, the very constitution of each & every Can contains uncountable features unique only to itself.
Each and every one of us cannot help but have innumerable unique & Novel attributes that, by definition make us Authentic. Every fingerprint on every finger of every person is unique enough that it can be trusted to identify each individual on the Planet. Authenticity abounds us. By virtue of the very nature of existence, all that exists is inescapably Authentic. Every rock, every tree, every person, every mountain, every planet, every solar system, and indeed every galaxy is unique. Authenticity, really speaking, is all there is.
Even the most inauthentic people among us are nothing but authentic beings.
They are authentic beings trapped, living inauthentic lives.
What becomes inauthentic is not we, but our lives.
There is no such thing as an inauthentic person, only inauthentic lives.
Inauthenticity has no existence in and of itself. Like a shadow, it has no substance of its own. It is an artificial construct in our minds–a delusion–an error in perception. It is a fiction that exists only in the minds of the inauthentic collective, as a mass hallucination. It is born of a false perception of reality, based on a framework of irrational thought, held together by errors in reasoning.
Inauthenticity is not rational, nor is it natural.
No one is born inauthentic.
As babies we were all at one time authentic. So what happened? What made us this way. We were made inauthentic, taught to be inauthentic, educated to be inauthentic. In a very real sense, we were robbed of our authenticity, our sincerity, & even our curiosity. In these Industrial Dark Ages we live in, inauthenticity is pandemic. It abounds in all walks of life and in every part of the world.
We live in a contrived world of rules & regulations, checks & balances, contracts & licenses, audits & fines, wherein it is implied that no one is “really” to be trusted, nor are we really expected become “trustworthy”. We are born into a world where the marriage vow has become an enforceable contract. We live in a world where we are groomed into superficial, image conscious, surface oriented, consumers. For all of us who are living inauthentic lives, a thorough understanding of inauthenticity, I believe, is our only hope for the reemergence our authentic selves. By examining its structure & formation and exploring it’s root causes, it is my hope that I too can one day restore my authenticity.
For what is authenticity but the absence of inauthenticity?
Authentic is what you are when you seize being inauthentic.
Beneath the delusion of our inauthentic lives, way down there at the bottom, our Authentic Self is waiting for us. And the first step is to see inauthenticity for what it really is – a delusion.But we do not see the world this way. Our minds have been trained to see the world in terms of broad generalities, where everything & everyone gets divided & lumped into categories, Categorical thinking assigns people or things into categories and then uses these categories as though they represented something real in the world. Categorical logic tends to go down a list asking questions like “is it a vegetable or animal?” If it is an animal, is it warm blooded or cold blooded? Is it bigger than us or smaller than us? Is it a carnivore or herbivore? and so on, each question narrowing the focus of the previous question, cascading down a series of subcategories. It assumes a “model” of reality, where you are either male or female but never more complex than that. A world where hermaphrodites & the venus fly trap have no place, and are thought of as “freaks of nature,” as anomalies in the system, as “mistakes” that should not have happened.
It is a “mechanical” view of the Universe, where everything has its place, and role to keep the status quo. It is a view of the world where the narrative is ignored, the context omitted; where the complexities that make each an every one of us unique vanish.
And as such, we see ourselves (& others)as a certain “kind” of person, of a certain “class”, of people, living a certain “type” of lifestyle, in a certain “income-bracket.” We see people in “categories” by race, nationality, gender, as good or bad, as “us” or “them.” To us a rock has become just another rock among many, a person, just one of many that either “fit the bill” of one demographic or other.
We begin to see people as quantifiable in numbers, as statistical entities. In school you have the “jocks” & the “nerds”, the “in crowd” & the “out crowd,” the “brainy” & “stupid”, the “squares” & the “rebellious,” the “normal” & the “weird.” And we all at one point felt we had to “fit in” so to speak, and be accepted into one category or other to become legitimate. This act of trying to establish our identity by trying to “fit in” to one category or other by emulating its symptoms, is what makes us inauthentic. In this way, trying to be authentic, is precisely what establishes our inauthenticity.
But to those who get well established at the top of a certain category then the idea is to be as different as possible–but not too different of course. At this stage, they believe that, to be authentic, one must work hard at it–as if authenticity was something you achieve. To them authenticity is the culmination of years of hard work, a craft one develops. This is when the “idols” become important–the Michael Jordans, the “Einsteins”, the “Maradonas” of each category are worshiped as ideal models. As leaders of their category, the idols become the subject of mimicry. It is this very emulation of what is believed to be Authentic, that makes for an inauthentic life. Inauthenticity is emulated authenticity. No amount of emulating the symptoms can ever bring about the cause. But the opposite is what is widely believed and indeed taught to the young everywhere. We are taught to “learn from the best,” to emulate them as best we can.
But Authenticity is not something that can learned, even from the best. Authenticity can never be contrived. If it were contrived, by definition, it would already be inauthentic. A truly authentic person has no care wether he is seen to be authentic or not. Because his self-esteem is derived from his own discernment of himself, he does not cling desperately to the opinion of others. And as such his self-esteem is self-contained, and thereby authentic. It is when we become enslaved to the opinion of others, it is when we fabricate our “else-esteem” through a collection of assessments by others, that we come to live inauthentic lives.
It is when we feel the need to influence what others think of us by projecting a contrived image of ourselves, than our lives become inauthentic.
In a world full only of authentic people, it would be virtually impossible to explain to anyone what an inauthentic person is like. But in the artificial, superficial, surface oriented, image conscious, brand-name driven, well packaged, mass produced, consumer driven, standardized, & commoditized world we live in inauthenticity is well known by everyone. This is because we see what we are. That is why we get so excited when we see rare glimpses of authenticity. In our world, inauthenticity is often understood as the state of “not being original.” More often then not people mistake “novelty” for “authenticity.” The common belief is that, “how unusual”, “how unexpected”, or “how unlike the rest” someone or something is, is what makes for authenticity. If this were true, in order to see if ones creative work was authentic, one would first have to examine the pool of existing art. This is ludicrous. Yet, how much one’s style deviates from what exists is the prevailing barometer for determining authenticity. So the artist strives to develop a contrived novelty, a new style cleverly crafted, primarily to be different from others. Yet, at the same time, he pays close attention to prevailing trends, so as not to step outside the boundaries of a given category and “go too far” which might make his work “unsellable”. In this way what he puts forth is usually nothing more than contrived-authenticity–different, but not too different–similar but just different enough. And then we call it the “X” factor. Those who deplore conformity, conform to non-conformity & call it “alternative”. This is insane, yet this is what most artists believe. The belief in the myth that authenticity equals novelty within the bounds of a certain category, lies at to root of all inauthentic art. Such are the woes of an inauthentic life.
Can one really be inauthentic yet sincere at the same time?
Isn’t “sincerity” inescapably bound to “authenticity”?
Isn’t “insincerity” inescapably bound to “inauthenticity”?
Isn’t it true that,
There is no method or discipline for Authenticity?
That to be authentic, all one has to do is be himself?
That Authenticity, is simply the absence of inauthenticity?
Isn’t it true that,
Authenticity is not something that can developed or acquired?
That Authenticity is not something that can ever be earned, learned, taught, or instilled?
That Authenticity is not something that can be faked?
That Authenticity can never be born of some type of effort to be Authentic?
Yet we all know that,
Authenticity is fundamental to existence.
Authenticity, IS what we already ARE.
Authenticity is me–just as I am, uncontrived.
If you enjoyed this article you are an inauthentic person.
If you didn’t understand it at all, then you are an authentic person.
OK! OK! HERE’S THE REAL TEST!
HERE IT COMES!
ARE YOU READY!
ARE YOU REALLY REALLY READY!!!
Lets say that you were in a stadium, a large stadium. The stadium is filled to full capacity with everyone you know, as well as everyone in your neighborhood, as well as a bunch of people you don’t want to know. There are huge screens all over the place, and you can see your own face on one of the big screens. You notice the multiple moving cameras hovering around you. Then to your surprise, you notice that all the big screens hanging everywhere are focused on your naked body laying on a glass bed on a well lit stage. “A glass bed?” you ask. The glass is there so that camera’s can capture your naked body from below, as well as from above. Its designed to be able to zoom into your every orifice and track it automatically.
There you are laying naked on a glass bed on stage in a huge stadium and everyone is looking — only at you. Only at you!
You notice a Big Screen behind you, and its playing a movie called “The Most Embarrassing Moments of My Life”. The gameshow host appears out of nowhere. “Hello I am your host, Mr. Papi!” The crowd cheers “Papi-Don’t hurt me!” Mr. Papi with a deep voice, “Are you ready to Ruuummmbbleee.” The crowd gets louder. “Welcome to the World Wide Broadcast of “How Authentic You Actually Are?” The crowd goes nuts. They begin to chant your name. Mr. Papi says: “So now! boys and girls, you all know the rules. If the person can actually fall asleep on stage they go home with 50 million dollars!” The crowd goes nuts. You see your mom and dad in the front row screaming “Fall-A-Sleep! Fall-A-Sleep!” The crowd joins in. The whole place is chanting “Fall-A-Sleep!” Then suddenly Mr. Papi claps his hands and the crowd goes dead silent. The lights go dim.
Mr. Papi then says,
“And now you have 9 minutes to fall asleep….starting NOW!”
If you think you can fall asleep– YOU OTENTIC!
If not– YOU HAVE ISCHUZZ!
This is a specimen of my mind for your perusal.
chai “mischievous” gatewalla