The belief in ego is a very old habit which has been with the mind stream for countless lifetimes. Thus, it is the hardest habit to break. We begin to sense the illusory nature of this mental structure and the insidious way we are goaded into accepting it as real, as young teenagers when society’s pressure to take on this identification and gratify other’s needs and demands really sets in.
Understanding the illusory nature of ego
The trouble is, there are a few role models of how to just be who we are. Instead we are driven into a corner by innuendos of guilt and obligation to tow society’s line. We learn to put on ego’s masks and play the game of ‘I will support your masks if you will support mine’ and nothing aids this process more than negative emotion.
By identifying with the map, our belief in it causes us to experience separation from what we already are: the awesomeness of beingness itself, totally whole and already totally complete… and not by any means separate (only recall quantum physics to get the picture).
Because our identification with ego is so all consuming, we attract experiences which continuously prove our belief true. Feeling very separate and alone, we begin to seek outside of ourselves to feel whole. This is the root of all spiritual seeking (and suffering). It is the spiritual seeker that must ultimately die in order to experience the enlightenment that we are. In the meantime, our yearning to feel whole causes us to desire a vast number of things to fill the feeling of lack. On the opposite end, we resist everything that does not satisfy us or makes us feel uncomfortable.
Samsara is essentially a projection of our own mind which consists of one continuous flow of desire which manifests as the cycle of birth and death. As stated earlier, what incarnates at birth, is the sum total of all the mind stream’s unfulfilled desires of previous lives and the things we have resisted. Samsaric mind is filled with unfulfilled desire and resistance to discomfort. When one desire is fulfilled, another simply pops in to take its place and sends us off on another goose chase. Resistance to the discomforts which arise in daily life fills the other half of our cup. In actual fact they are both two sides of the same coin.
For example, consider your desire for love and yet the resistance to really open up, because it would make you feel vulnerable. You respond to the fear of vulnerability, so you miss love and desire reasserts itself. Another example is the desire for wealth which often comes with its own special brand of resistance, such as ‘I’m not good enough’, or ‘It will never happen to me.’ You are just about to hit the jackpot, when your doubt pops up, and back you go. This pattern creates its own merry-go-round, and keeps you trapped.
There is a way out of this cycle and it involves two further steps after developing a positive attitude. The second step has to do with using a form of direct self– enquiry to root out the identification with ego, to see through the ‘I’ that constantly keeps you chasing after desire. The third step is to learn to take all of life in a state of wonderment, so that we do not return to a fixation on either our desires or resistances and thus create more.