By Angela Slezak
One of my meditation teachers often says, “The mind lies.” In her example, the mind tells you that you can’t stand another minute of sitting still but then you do. The average anxiety attack, she once told us, lasts only several minutes. If we can wait it out, it passes like a wave. But during the event, it doesn’t feel like a passing emotion, the mind makes us believe it’s much longer.
In Asia, I was exposed to “the mind” as an entity much different from the brain that we identify with here in the the west. The mind is not the real you and “object of thought” is considered a sense like hearing, taste, touch, smell and sight.
In this way, the mind is object not subject. This is threatening, especially to the individualistic west, as it tears away at identity. If I disengage from my mind, my intelligence, my personality, then what am I?
As I thought about the mind lying, I thought “the president lies a lot too.” Why do we engage with a president that lies so much? All politicians lie but this one is an egregious, unapologetic liar. Why do we engage with a president and a mind that lies so much?
When thinking about lying, I often think of the documentary The Imposter. The tagline reads, “There are two sides to every lie.”
The reason for that tagline is that a 12-year old boy in San Antonio goes missing and later turns up in Europe. The imposter (no spoiler here as it’s the name of the documentary) is the wrong age, wrong nationality and even has a foreign accent.
How did this liar convince a judge, the FBI and the boy’s family that he was the missing boy? That’s the interesting center of the film. Was the family so eager to see their son/brother that the overlooked the obvious? Was the FBI interviewer so enthralled by the tale of kidnap and horror as to welcome the relief of safety and reunion? Was the judge happy to have reunited a family?
It was an investigator covering the story for Hard Copy that immediately suspected him of being an imposter. After examining the physical evidence, he alerted the authorities.
There are two sides to the lie – the person lying and those wanting to believe the lie and ignoring what appears very clear evidence against the lie. Are we our own imposters? Do we participate in the lying of others because we lie to ourselves?