One of the ideas you hear very often in spiritual circles is that “the world is a mirror of yourself”. This is an analogy, not a fact. We will explore this concept, keeping in mind that, like any analogy, this too has its strong points but also some limitations that can create misunderstandings. 

What is a mirror? A mirror is a device that reflects a clear image of the objects standing in front of it. It is most useful when you want to see things you cannot see otherwise. If you can see something without a mirror then the mirror has no value to you. For instance, if I want to see the watch on my elbow, I don’t usually use a mirror, but I look at it directly. But if I want to see my face, or myself, my body, as a whole, I need to use a mirror. Therefore, a mirror is showing that which cannot be seen by direct perception.

What is the world mirroring for us? The world is reflecting that which you cannot perceive directly; the thinking, emotional and behavioral patterns that are unconscious or have become automatic to you. What’s important here are not the images shown by the mirror, but the reactions these images create in you. You react to the images by thinking thoughts, manifesting emotions and exhibiting behaviors, all according to the patterns, or habits, that you formed in time. Having been formed and groomed for long periods of time, some of these reactions are automatic, and many of them are unconscious: you do not realize you have them. And this is the value of the concept: it allows you access to the patterns you are no longer in touch with, and therefore cannot control. You can learn to identify these patterns in order to release them, heal and grow.

The trap with this idea, that what you see in the world is a mirror of yourself, is the tendency to explain it simplistically or superficially. For example, if difficult things start happening to you, the superficial explanation would be “because you are doing something bad or wrong yourself”. You reap what you sow, you get what you deserve, etc. This is guilt instilling, and therefore completely useless to your process of healing. Such an explanation should be decisively rejected as soon as it arises in your mind because it is very damaging and ultimately useless. You will lose time and energy if you go in the direction of guilt. If you have done something wrong you will have plenty of opportunities to deal with it when you are healed and actually able to deal with such things. 

What the mirror is showing are your thinking, emotional and behavioral patterns, which you can know by your reactions to what is being shown. In order for this mirror to be of any help, one has to go deeper, and inquire into these reactions. Where, when, and from whom did you learn it? It may be the patterns that pertain to you, in particular, as an individual, or it might be that you are seeing patterns belonging to your family, which you inevitably picked up during childhood. It can be the patterns of your ethnic group, or society, or humankind in general. It might be that you are being shown even more deeper and all-encompassing patterns. The world is not showing you only patterns that are particular to you as a person, but also patterns that you share with the groups you belong to. You are a human being, therefore you share beliefs and patterns with all human beings. You were born to a certain ethnicity or in a particular type of society; you belong to an age group, gender group and many other groups, therefore you will embody beliefs particular to these groups, whether you know it or not.  And, with respect to these shared patterns, your reaction is similar to that of other people that share the pattern. Especially if you don’t know it, the mirror will show these beliefs to you. 

Many of your beliefs are beneficial to you and you use them in order to grow; even if you are not aware of them, they will be reflected in positive ways. You will feel good about these. The other ones, the beliefs and patterns that you hold and are no longer of any use to you, are the ones that cause you pain and problematic reactions. These are reflected in negative ways in order to attract your attention to the fact that they need to be acknowledged and released. Most of the time we tend to stick to some old patterns without being aware, just because we did it all our lives, and possibly, because they were useful to us for a long time. The world-mirror will powerfully reflect these back to us when we can no longer grow from these but instead they have become a hindrance to our development. This is the moment to acknowledge these patterns and release them.

We should keep in mind that the mirror is a concept, not an ultimate reality. It is a tool amongst others that we can use to grow from our experience in this world. The best use for this tool, that I know of, is to identify patterns that have become automatic or unconscious. The biggest trap is the guilt trip. From there on, if releasing these patterns is necessary, there are other methods suitable to employ. But you cannot release a pattern that you do not know is there in the first place; bringing the unconscious into the light of consciousness is the most valuable way in which to make use of this concept.

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