In every arena of life and every facet of our conscious experience, there are two main layers pervading it all. There is the surface layer or the appearance of things, and there is the deeper layer – the reality of things.
The Japanese have a word for each these layers, and the implicit understanding of these two ideas is paramount to the sustained functioning of their society. The word, ‘Honne’ is the reality, the true essence of a thing or a person. It is the actual feelings, desire and inclinations of a person. The word ‘Tatemae’ describes the surface of things, the illusion, the public image, and the false self. For instance, I can ask you to join me for supper because you dropped in for a visit while I was cooking. This is tatemae. In reality however, I may actually not want you to eat with me because I am really hungry and don’t want to share or I don’t particularly care for your company, etc. That is honne. We all do this in our own ways. We are polite to people we don’t like, we conceal our intentions and true feelings to avoid conflict or drama. It is the way we interact in society.
Once one understands that this idea pervades every aspect of life, one can begin to observe his environment more critically and see past the actions of people to their true intentions and motivations. We are a society of spectacle, we love to be entertained and the more dramatic and thrilling an event or experience is, the more we clamor for it. The drama of a so-called fair and free election conceals the campaign process, the power brokering behind the scenes, the manipulation of public opinion, and the advancement of propaganda. The absolutely stunning smile of girl at the bar is more invested in your pockets than your charm. The cheerful faces of the usher at church are there more to guide you into becoming a conforming member than a real happiness to see you. The duality places out on every level.
The mature and skilled warrior knows to enjoy the spectacle but also knows to see past the stage and the drawn curtain to the intrigues and workings behind the scenes. The warrior is not afraid of reality, but instead relishes it and seeks to understand it fully, because only then can he/she navigate through it and manipulate it to his/her advantage.
It is much easier to get swept up in the show and spectacle of life than to study it and understand its under workings. We can choose to go along for the ride and remain puppets, spectators watching with glazed over hypnotized eyes. Or we can choose the way of power piercing the veil and seeing the world for what it really is.