A young wife fell ill and was about to die. She told her husband, “I love you very much. If you marry again, I will come back to haunt you.”
A year later, the widower met another woman and fell in love. They became engaged. That was when the haunting began.
Every night, the spirit of the dead wife would appear. She would recount all the going ons between the man and his fiancée. She knew what presents he brought her, what was said between the two of them in the most intimate details.
The man lost all peace of mind. His friends told him to seek the help of a Zen master.
After hearing the man out, the Zen master said, “The spirit of your former wife knows everything about you. She is a very smart ghost worthy of your admiration. Next time you see her, flatter her. Assure her that if she can answer just your one question, you will break off your engagement.”
Mystified, the man asked: “What question is it?”
“Take a handful of soy beans in one hand and ask her exactly how many are there.”
That night, the spirit appeared and straight away began on an accusing note: “I know you’ve been to see the Zen master.”
“Yes I did. You are so smart! You know everything. I will break off my engagement if you can tell me how many beans I am holding in my hand.”
The spirit disappeared. It was then the man realized that ‘the ghost’ was a figment of his own imagination.
Man’s capacity for self-deception is infinite. Rudyard Kipling had once said, “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”
In ‘Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience’, Steve Maraboli taught: “Stop lying to yourself. When we deny our own truth, we deny our own potential.”
Which is why, Neel Burton’s words in ‘Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception’ are so relevant ¯ “Self-deception is a defining part of our human nature. By recognizing its various forms in ourselves and reflecting upon them, we may be able to disarm them and even, in some cases, to employ and enjoy them.
This self-knowledge opens up a whole new world before us, rich in beauty and subtlety, and frees us not only to take the best out of it, but also to give it back the best of ourselves, and, in so doing, to fulfill our potential as human beings.”