Indulging the Ego

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It is good to reflect on experiences and see what they point to on your spiritual journey. But when does inner inquiry turn into indulging the Ego?

It did not occur to me that the work I do looking for insights can subtley become a way of indulging my egoic self. We are told that the ego can try to co-opt the journey of awakening. And like any good egoic consciousness, I was sure that couldn’t happen to me, especially being forwarned.

I have found myself ruminating on one source of pain for some time now. I have done The Work (Byron Katie) so I have moved alot of the underlying thoughts related to my suffering. But I go back to scenarios and moments, as if there is something more to milk from it. I justify the returning thoughts as my exploration of what may be unfinished.

Yet, there is nothing new. If anything, I see I am creating a story called “What am I not seeing?”, to justify what is just an egoic groove. I have ruminated on this issue for some time, and I have many triggers for it. So it is natural that it will take a bit of practice to not become enamoured by settling back into the familiar self righteousness and suffering that this set of thoughts creates. 

What I am really doing is indulging the ego. I am saying things like “There must be more to this” or “I am not done with that lesson”. More accurately, I am breathing life back into the ego.

“You breathe life into your ego in the form of emotional addictions. Emotion is the very life-force of ego. So the point of detachment isn’t to detach from things, but to detach from your emotional bonds with things. And you don’t simply let go of emotional bonds; you burn through them with investigative awareness. You see them for what they are: prisons, false structures holding you in spiritual infancy. ” -Adyashanti

Every time I recognize something like this, the release is so sweet. It is like taking your shoes off and wiggling your toes in the sand. It is one more piece of freedom.

The blood moon lunar eclipse represents final closure on things that have been lurking in your shadow.  I celebrate that my ritual on Sunday set this awareness in motion. Nature so happily shows us how to be awake.

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I Wish I Could Break Up With You Again

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I wish I could break up with you again as the person I am today.

I wish I could tell you I don’t want you to be with me if that’s not what you want. I wish I really cared about what’s best for you.

I wish I could tell you that you don’t have to change to be loved or deserve love. You don’t have to change for me to be happy. That’s not your job.

I wish I could tell you that all the times I manipulated you to prove you loved me were about me needing to prove I loved me.

I wish I hadn’t kept a score sheet of all the ways you disappointed me or didn’t prove you loved me. Those were ways I looked to you to fill up the void in me.

I wish I realized that all the times and ways I didn’t commit to you, accept you or tried to leave were ways I betrayed myself, abandoned myself and rejected me.

I wish I understood that the ending was my beginning. I wish that I saw it was my path to God.

If I had known all that, I truly would have loved you. And if I had loved you, I would have joined you in leaving.

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Road Rage as Spiritual Practice?

Ram Dass said “If you think you are enlightened, spend a week with your family. ” For me, it turns out to be driving. 
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A few years ago, at the height of my messed up life gradually falling apart, I had my first road rage incident. After being honked at by a rude woman behind me, I left my car, walked over to her and said “What?!? What do you need from me?”  Thankfully nothing violent occurred and the escalation was minimal. I was not proud of it – but it reflected the crises going on in my life.

Since then, I have done a lot of healing and growth and deepening. It would be great if I could say the road rage incident was a one time thing. It was the most dramatic but I still have moments of “talking” to other drivers from within my car. I evaluate them, complain and criticize. I feel smug about how much better than them I am. My little girl has even started teasing me when I complain.

So where does that leave me?

First, I am not ashamed. I am not perfect and this small insanity is a fairly harmless mirror to me of stuff still bubbling in me.

Second, this judgemental stuff doesn’t show up as obviously in the rest of my life. I might not have seen this lovely ego pattern. I have managed to hide it in most relationships.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop complaining as I drive.

Road rage as spiritual practice? Yeah, totally. Let’s see what happens next.
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Meet Me At Me

“I need you to meet me at me,” I once told him.

“What does that mean? What would that look like?” he asked.

I have thought about that question many times. I know what it feels like when someone meets me at me. I know too well what it feels like when it doesn’t happen.

The real key to that question is what happens when I meet me at me.

The Me is not my personality or my ego. It is the Me that longs for truth. It is the Me that does not believe in separation.

I know that Me is more present than ever because of what others are experiencing around me. Three times this week I was described as stunning and beautiful. I am not stuck on being judged as an object and have my self determined by others. What I love is being seen, truly, and that what is seen aligns with my desire to be Truth.

I have been told I am a calming influence. I am wise. I am strong. I am inspiring and bring a perspective to things that most miss.

Don’t get me wrong – I am also selfish, irresponsible, prone to flashes of temper, and sometimes judgemental. But only when I believe my own thoughts.

What does it mean to meet me at me? It is no longer something I can ask of another. It is me that meets me. Any aspect of that which I attribute to you is an image of separation.

“Awakening to the truth of perfect Unity means to awaken from the dream of a personal self and personal others to the realization that there is no other. Many spiritual seekers have had glimpses of the absolute unity of all existence, but few are capable of or willing to live up to the many challenging implications inherent in that revelation. The revelation of perfect unity, that there is no other, is a realization of the ultimate impersonality of all that seems to be so very personal.

Applying this realization to the arena of personal relationships is something that most seekers find extremely challenging, and is the number one reason why so many seekers never come completely to rest in the freedom of the Self Absolute. Inherent in the revelation of perfect unity is the realization that there is no personal me, no personal other, and therefore no personal relationships. Coming to terms with the challenging implications of this stunning realization is something that few people are willing to do, because realizing the true impersonality of all that seems so personal challenges every aspect of the illusion of a separate, personal self. It challenges the entire structure of personal relationships which are born of needs, wants, and expectations.” –Adyashanti

When I asked intimate others to meet me at me, it was the longing for My Self. It was the longing to know my Truth.

Only I can meet me at me.
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You Think Too Much

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A man I was close to used to tease me when I asked what he was thinking by replying “You think too much!” As a person responsible for strategic planning and long term impacts of things, it seemed like an inevitable occupational hazard.

In time, I have learned that we do not control whether thoughts arise or not – they just do, and we decide to attend to them or not.  We decide to give them energy and go along with them, or not. We decide to believe them, or not.

Thoughts arise against the backdrop of our consciousness all the time.  They arise without prompting by us.  In fact, I dare you to cause a thought right now.  I challenge you to stop thoughts arise for more than a few seconds.

“The human condition is characterized by a compulsive and obsessive personal relationship to thought. At its best, thought is a symbolic representation of reality; at its worst, thought takes the place of reality. Our thoughts describe and interpret both the external world and our internal experiences. To conceive of a life lived any other way is incomprehensible to most people. Thought tells us who we are; what we believe; what is right and wrong; what we should feel; what is true and what is false; and how we fit into this event called “life.” We literally create ourselves and our lives out of thought. Further, we associate the end of thought with sleep, unconsciousness, or death. It is this very personal relationship with thought that is the cause of all the fear, ignorance, and suffering which characterizes the human condition, and which destroys the manifestation of true Love in this life.”  – Adyashanti

I have learned that when I believe my thoughts I suffer, but when I question them, I don’t suffer. It’s not reality that makes us suffer; it’s our thoughts about reality.  Normally, it is thoughts that suggest that things should be different from what I am experiencing that causes suffering.  As Byron Katie says “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.”

There is no doubt that I am in silence much more than ever before in my life.  It is not an external silence.  It is not even a quiet mind. I am in the silence behind all of that.  I use thoughts as a way of noticing they occur within the “ever-present, silent-still-source that not only precedes thought but surrounds it”. – Adyashanti

Do I think too much? No, not really.  It is all part of the pathway to something greater: ” What I am talking about is a condition where the mind never fixates; where it never closes; where it has no compulsive need to understand in terms of ideas, concepts, and beliefs. A condition where you are no longer referencing the mind, feelings, or emotions for security in any way. What I am talking about is the complete surrender of all separateness until liberation becomes a permanent condition, and you are forever lost in the freedom of the Absolute.” – Adyashanti

Work is love made visible

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret…

…Work is love made visible.

-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
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I have known three men who answer me the same way when I ask about the best part of their day: they each answered “Sleep.”

I feel the truth of these words from The Prophet, although I haven’t always. I tried to make it through my week to desperately try to recover on the weekend so I could cope with work. I would rejoice at the start of vacation  and cry the night before returning to work. 

What changed? Certainly not my work. I find myself in circumstances nearly identical to the ones that burned me out two years ago. But I am not anxious. I am not carrying my day out the door.

Two years ago, I spent a year barely working. For the first 6 months, this idleness was healing. It helped me to meet Me.

Then I experienced how work is love made visible. When I was in Brazil at John of God, we each did a day of service.  John provides a lunch to everyone, every day. In our service, we help prepare the soup that will nourish all the pilgrims each day. As I did this work, I felt peace and love fill me.

I used to hate my chores at home. Vacuuming. Dishes. Laundry. Every day, every week. “Do it as a meditation”, the wise ones advise. Didn’t work! But if I do it as love made visible, everyone feels it when they come to my home.

When people in positions that I associate with consciousness (massage therapist, Yoga instructor, minister) would tell me “my work is a meditation”, I would be envious. Of course it is – you are dealing in consciousness every day! Try balancing a $200 million budget, implementing staff reductions,  answering emails until bedtime and then tell me how to make it a meditation!

Except…my work IS a meditation. My life is a meditation. My work is love made visible. Every day, I help someone. Every day,  I identify a little bit more of where I am believing a thought that isn’t true.

My work is love made visible. My life is my pathway to God.
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Don’t Poke My Ego!

Have you ever been talking to someone – friend, loved one or new acquaintance – and when you hit a particular topic they go from present and kind to being a defensive maniac? We sometimes call this hitting their triggers.

For me, my triggers are deeply held values, as well as unconsciously held false beliefs. Some false beliefs are “I do it all myself” or “I should always meet others expectations”. Those are easy to trigger and possibly easier to identify. They even sound silly. But when it comes to values – well, we value them!
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A few of my deep values are responsibility and integrity.  When I unpack them, there are subtle ego issues there. Responsibility implies control – we can only  be responsible for what we control.  If we are in control wouldn’t we always chose to be loving and present? So can we really be responsible?

Integrity is about being in alignment. It means that our actions are consistent with our intentions and our words. But this also suggests that we are always aware and always in control enough for integrity to occur. As someone who values integrity, practices awareness and aims for alignment,  I can think of nearly daily instances where I was not in integrity.

For example, I have a friend whose views on sexual relationships are different from mine. He has a roving eye. In the past I have teasingly called him a slut.  Recently when we were discussing being able to be open with each other,  I smugly pointed out that I was one of the most loving people out there! I was shocked (ego break) when he was dubious. Immediately all the ways I did not embody love with him flooded into my awareness. I was sorrowful for what I co-created with him.

All of a sudden, I am aware that even my values are ego patterns. They allow me to justify how I see the world. They cause me to suffer.  More importantly, they keep me separate from reality. 

I can honestly say I am excited by triggers. Now they just point me to where I am holding myself apart from truth. Pretty cool.