There is a tyranny of the ‘real’ similar to the tyranny of the thoughts. Thoughts become tyrants when they, instead of serving the master, usurp his throne and make their master a prisoner. The master loses his space, freedom, peace and autonomy and suffer. Fortunately we don’t suffer this indignity always; normally we retain some wit and presence to recover our autonomy before it is too late. The constant static noise of thought running in the background of our mind is our normal misery. It is the tyrant to which we all are familiar. But there is a tyranny of the ‘real’ whose scope, power , operations and activities we have not sufficiently awakened to. This article tries to map its activities by beginning with an example.

A few days ago I read a story in a newspaper which sort of triggered this article to be written. The story ran like this:
In a small town in India, a young man of twenty committed suicide by jumping before a running train. The suicide was mysterious because there were no causes known even to his parents for his taking this extreme step. But police investigation led to the discovery of his diary which unearthed, may be partially, the mystery behind his suicide. The boy was courting a girl over the net. After some months of chats, where both expressed their longing for each other, the boy invited the girl to his town so that they could meet each other for an hour. The girl agreed to the proposal. They met for some time at the railway station. But there the boy got the shock of his life. He found to his horror that the girl was ‘homely’ which may be translated as just ‘ plain ’. Thereafter they both parted and went their separate ways. The boy was determined, almost viscerally, that he would have no further truck with the girl. Had he made this discovery known to the girl, then probably this tragedy won’t have happened. But he kept his discovery to himself. How could the girl know that her lover had serious reservations regarding her beauty? She kept on trying to chat with him but as he stopped being available on chat, she began to phone him. Even over phone he couldn’t tell her the reason for his change of mind. So the girl continued to ‘pester’ him over phone. The day he committed suicide was the day the girl had informed him that she would be coming again to meet him, this time at his home with his parents, to discuss about their marriage. The boy got panicked because he had kept everyone in the dark about his amorous activities over net. In a state of confusion and panic he jumped before the train. Nobody in the small town had ever seen the shy boy with any girl; so the discovery of the truth was a surprise for all.

In the story above we find an example of the tyranny of the ‘real’ over our lives. What the imagination and affection had brought together, the ‘real’ was allowed to ride rough shod over it. I am reminded of one of Keats’ most famous letters to his publisher wherein he stated, ” I am certain of nothing except the holiness of heart’s affection and the truth of imagination”. Had the boy believed in the holiness of his heart’s affection and the truth of his imagination, instead of lending his power to the tyranny of the ‘real’, he would have lived on and most probably would have led a happy conjugal life with the girl who was so deeply in love with him. How I wish that the boy had told to himself, after his discovery of the girl’s plainness, ” I refuse to be cowed down by the rude jolts of the ‘real’. Whatever my heart feels a kinship to or develop an affection for must be holy and true. Why should I give preference to my eyes over the matters of heart ? If I have imagined her to be beautiful and lovable she must be really so, notwithstanding what she appears to my eyes. Eyes can’t know the real, but the heart knows.” It is one of those scenes in the theatre of life where one is impelled from within to rise up from the spectator’s seat to shout, “ Don’t do that, young man, to yourself, do this instead.”

This tyranny of the ‘real’, the tyranny of what appears to be infallibly true to our senses has made this world a graveyard of relationships and marriages . People court the other passionately, declaring themselves to be in love from the top of the roofs and marry or begin to live with each other with high hopes and expectations but soon surrender their power, their freedom, their autonomy to a tyrant named the ‘real’ or ’reality’. They forget that the “real” is to be found nowhere except in their imagination. If the beloved didn’t look attractive any more, didn’t seem as lovable as before then the cause might be with their perceptions rather than with the ones in whom they had felt the vibrations of their hearts’ affection, in whom they had seen their truth of imagination revealed. But living a life with reference to a centre placed outside of our selves, how can we see the holiness of heart’s affection and the truth of our imagination? No wonder the appearance is taken as reality. When men and women will begin to live authentically, convinced of what Keats had been deeply convinced about, living from a centre within, dropping into their essence more and more and surfacing only as situations dictated, then this tyrant will be dislodged of its seat which has outlived its reign. Then when confronted with pieces of evidences of ‘reality,’ men and women would shout in their actions, ” Fie with you ‘reality’! Get out from my life. My beloved has nothing to do with the evidences you produced. To you she may be fat, short tempered or unfaithful or he may be bald, limping or impotent but that has nothing to do with what I have felt in him or her with the holiness of my heart’s affection and the truth of imagination. She or he is me, there is no other over there. I have heard or seen your evidences from outside but I know the truth from within.”

The name of the game is a sense of lack. It is an important part of the theatre of life. Through this device the master illusionist creates dissatisfaction, discord and disharmony. Where we lack nothing, we are constantly prompted in the ear, “There must be more to life and living. It feels imperfect and incomplete. I must get something to make myself more complete, more perfect. I must find a better partner who will fulfill me, make me happy.” It becomes a major tool in the hands of the tyrant to crumble all our relationships and happiness under its weight. But living life from the centre, from a space deep within us, dropping more often into our essence at ease will again redeem us from this fallen, mired and sorry state. Then all the challenges will only make us more present, more alive and more attuned to the truly real in us. As someone said,” What is precious in us doesn’t come, doesn’t go, and it does not depend on performance.”