Excerpt from Let the Moon Be Free, by Eric Baret
What disturbs you in the presence of someone else is something you carry in yourself. You come into a room where thirty people are gathered. Twenty-nine of them do not bother you too much, but there is one whom you cannot stand. Why do you target this one person more than any other? Because they mirror something that you cannot abide in yourself and that you’re not aware of. Seeing that in the other is triggering.
We are always challenged by the pathology which is the closest to home. When you decide that a situation is unacceptable, it is because you don’t listen and you don’t understand.
There is nothing intolerable that you do not carry within yourself. This does not mean that you should stop yourself from reacting if it goes beyond your capacity to welcome it.
What is truly unbearable? The conviction that you know what is right. If you hear words that point to a different world vision than yours, you get offended. What’s offensive is the pretense of knowing. If you let go of all pretense, nothing is revolting, there is understanding. At the level of the body, it’s a different story, but to be psychologically disturbed by someone or something is a fantasy.
What is said here is not about creating a new attitude, but rather about being available to what’s here. That’s the only possibility. What is intolerable to you is something that, for the moment, you cannot acknowledge in yourself; so, you project it onto somebody else. Sooner or later you will see the mechanism.
Do not force yourself to accept things that exceed your capacity but rather, take advantage of the “intolerable” situation; go home and give life to that residue, that intimate echo. Little by little, you will see that less and less things will be unpleasant, until nothing is unpleasant anymore.
Intolerable means that something disturbs your pretense system and challenges the world that you have created in defense of yourself and of your existence. If you meet a very rich man and say to him, “In reality, you have nothing,” he could be shocked by your remark because he has spent his life building the image of himself as a wealthy man. If you meet a homeless person and you tell him, “In reality, you have everything,” he could be hurt because he lives with this deep certainty that he has nothing, that he is unhappy.
We must live with reality. Acceptance replaces intolerance. When you no longer picture yourself as rich or poor, nothing is psychologically intolerable.
You think that a rapist or a murderer are abominable, and then one day you look, and you understand the inner functioning of the one who needs to rape, to kill and to create suffering in order to find a few moments of happiness. When you become aware of the distress, of the sadness, of the despair that is there, you no longer find it intolerable, you just understand what the right action is.
The intolerable is the defense of one’s world. It is the origin of fascism. Our most common attitude is to forbid what is intolerable to us.