Archive for ego
One day, a disciple was sitting with the Buddha when another man came out of nowhere and spat in Buddha’s face. The disciple grew tremendously enraged at having witnessed his most revered master subjected to such an act of callousness, from such a lowly individual.
Just as he leaped up to brutally retaliate, the Buddha calmly and unemotionally said to his foe, “Thank You”.
The disciple was stopped dead in his tracks and immediately his rage subsided. He asked his beloved Master why he would thank someone for behaving in such a disgraceful manner.
Buddha said to his disciple, “Everything in life has meaning and a purpose. Even though he spat at me, I remain content and at peace. This was a test for my ego reaction. A test that I passed, but you failed.”
Finding one’s purpose in life can be very difficult. I myself have to admit that I’ve wrestled with this concept so densely at times, that I found myself developing nihilistic habits. Basically, thinking that my life has no purpose. That I should just let the current carry me. It’s kind of like sailing without a map or navigation system, but wishing and hoping that you’ll end up somewhere nice, like an island paradise.
There’s a saying, “wishes and hopes are goals without energy behind them.” You’re basically spending your time in a deep day dream, hoping that eventually something will manifest and that you might find your true calling. Your purpose in life. Sometimes we do manifest the things we dream about, but most of the time, you actually have to do something to make something happen. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but setting small goals for yourself throughout the day and accomplishing them, works wonders in building up your confidence in yourself.
We often make excuses for ourselves, why we should or shouldn’t do something and by not following through with what we set forth, we strengthen our ego and weaken our will. For example, something so simple as taking out the trash. You think “I’m too tired, feeling lazy, I’ll do it tomorrow”, etc. Ultimately, you’re better off doing what you said you were going to do initially than train yourself to make excuses every time the conditions don’t suit you. It’s kind of like, if you can’t resolve to do the small and seemingly unimportant tasks, how will you ever be able to tackle anything of greater importance like starting up a business, improving a relationship or finding a new job?
I believe that to find your true purpose in life, you need to first learn to live with purpose. What does that mean? Basically, it means that rather than looking at what your highest purpose in life is, which is fine if you know what it is, you set up mini-purposes up throughout the day. It’s kind of like setting up an intention. For example, you are reading a self-help book about relationships. So instead of skimming the pages glassy-eyed, prior to picking up the book, set up a few reasons why you intended to read the book. What do you want to get out of it? Several times a day, I ask myself the question…
For what higher/greater purpose am I…?
Reading this book
Talking or listening to this person
Working on this project
Writing this post
It’s amazing the answers I come up with. I’ll be reading a book and suddenly something will pop up at me on the page which has some kind of special meaning to me.
When talking to people, you begin to hear things in new ways. They will tell you something seemingly random and suddenly a light bulb goes off in your mind. And there is the answer to a question you had or the solution to a problem. The whole world becomes your oracle when you resolve to step out of the mundane and ask yourself questions of a higher order. Then, life becomes a sacred experience. A life with purpose.
In his book, The Infinite Self, Stuart Wilde states, “The ego is very resistant to letting go. It not only wants to hold onto its sense of power, but it likes to dominate your life and the lives of others, because it feels insecure.”
Our fears are nothing more than the manifestation of the ego and in order to quit succumbing to its capricious desires, we need to learn to trust in our spiritual infinity. For many people, their egos rule their lives, laying out lists of things and desires to be acquired. If you just bought a fancy new car, well, you may be flying high for about a week, but sooner than later, the insecure ego jumps back in with its endless demands of “get me this”, “get me that”.
The first step to breaking down the ego is understanding that you are not your ego. Your ego is a behavior that you exhibit. You are an infinite being and an eternal energy. It’s just that for many of us, our ego personality may be fearful and resistant, getting in the way of tuning into that all knowing part of us, the higher self. So, our heightened state of awareness and our intrinsic sensitivity to the world around us will be stifled and held back through the grips of the demanding ego.
Second, by learning to quieten the mind through meditation, we can begin to tune into that infinite part of us. Only then do we begin to understand that we are far more than our intellect and rational mind. When your mind dominates you, you are filled with inner dialogue that causes so much mental “noise”, it is difficult to tell apart a warning that comes from your higher self and the fearful ego personality. When the higher self warns you, “don’t go down that street” or “turn left at the street corner”, it is a spontaneous and unemotional experience, that comes from a source of love. When your ego tells you to do or not to do certain things, it does so because it fears entering into a situation that would contradict its views and have its authority challenged, even by your higher self.
The ego has a need for self-importance. It wants to make itself into a God or Goddess, to glorify itself and compete with others. Your ego tells you that you aren’t attractive enough, then commands you to go out and buy a sexy outfit to prove your beauty, by attracting a number of admirers at the club. The ego is also very lazy. It likes to be comfortable and it wants you to serve its needs continuously. You may decide that you will start an exercise routine and a few days later, your ego will come up with all kinds of excuses why not to continue.
Stuart Wilde believes that the ego can be brought into submission through self-discipline. The discipline of rising early. He suggests getting up at 4am and walking in a forest for an hour, for a period of 3 months, in rain or shine. The ego will protest violently at first. It wants to be warm and cozy. By you doing anything to contradict the ego, you are strengthening a higher part of yourself that refuses to be constantly assailed by its wants. Incorporating some form of meditation into your daily routine is also a great form of self-discipline. Wilde recommends meditating 24 minutes a day (one minute for every 24 hours), preferably at 4am, if your ego doesn’t manage to convince you otherwise. If that doesn’t tame the lazy ego, I don’t know what will. Speaking of which, tomorrow morning, I’m rising at 6 am! Baby steps…