The Fun House
by Patrick Drysdale
Once upon a time there was a traveling carnival that had a fun house in it. It stopped in every town and advertised that its fun house contained the ultimate challenge. The manager told the crowd that the only rule was that everyone had to walk in alone and that anyone who could stay in for five minutes would receive a sack of gold.
A businessman volunteered to be the first. He said that facing angry clients gave him nerves of steel and walked into the fun house. Within a minute he came running out, his face covered in fright. Then a lady stepped up who declared that she’d been through five husbands and that there wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. She walked in and a minute later ran out screaming hysterically.
Next a soldier boldly came forward and said that he was trained not to feel fear and walked in. A minute later he came rushing out, trembling in terror. One by one, the people from the town went in. Those who egotistically boasted that they were the bravest turned out to be the ones who came running out the quickest.
Finally a young boy said he’d like to try. The manager opened the door for him and he walked in. Thirty seconds passed. One minute. Two minutes. Three, four, five. He was declared the winner and received a sack of gold.
The manager opened the door to let everyone else see what scared the people so much and there was nothing inside except a full length mirror. But this mirror had magic properties. It showed everyone who looked at it what they were really like on the inside and reflected everything the people didn’t want to face about themselves, all the embarrassing and shameful personal secrets that they kept well hidden. Everyone ran because no one wanted to face the truth about himself.
The fun house represents our personal unconscious. The people who try for the prize represent the ego at different stages and the mirror represents the mind’s ability to look at itself, a reflecting ability. Walking in alone signifies that we have to look at ourselves individually, without leaning on someone else. And the sack of gold represents valuable self knowledge that can be gained as a result of courage and perseverance.
In real life, the mirror in the fun house represents the people in the outer world we come in contact with. We need them as mirrors to see ourselves because it’s only in relationship with others that we can see what we’re really like. Noticing what we project onto others is one of the best ways to do this.
Many people don’t continue on the path because it means facing unpleasant facts about themselves. The ego consists of imaginary and false images of how it thinks it is and doesn’t want to see the truth about itself because that would mean the end of its domination. It’s a fact that anyone who seriously investigates himself becomes a different person because confrontation with the unconscious has a decidedly disintegrating effect upon the ego. After starting the journey back home, the imaginary self dissolves and no longer exists as it was.
The way to heaven is through what we assume is our hell and it takes real courage to face the devil along the way. Not running away from our inner devils is authentic bravery because what we’re confronting is ourselves but, once we do this, the scary furniture in our mental basement turns into valuable qualities. These traits can then be made a part of the surface personality, since it was only our self-righteous ego that considered them unsuitable.
Want to know what your present level of spiritual development is? Ask yourself how much truth you can stand to hear about yourself without getting mad. The point where you get irritated shows your level of psychological maturity. A person on a low level gets offended right away, while someone farther along doesn’t feel any resentment because he’s already exposed himself to himself.
You’ve come a long way if you can tolerate being called what you actually are. Seeing unpleasant facts about ourselves means the bursting of imaginary pictures. There’s a sense of relief when this happens because we no longer have to pretend to be something we’re not. It’s helpful to remember that if you can take it, you can make it.
About the Author
Patrick Drysdale is an author of transpersonal psychology and inner development. He received his B.S. from the University of Illinois and his articles and short stories have appeared in metaphysical publications throughout the world. His present book, The Path to No Ego, is a personal account of the inner journey and includes insights and practical exercises for profound inner change. For more information about the author and his publications, visit his website at http://www.mind.net/spiritual. Patrick resides in Medford, Oregon.