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. 

The trouble is, there are 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.

As time moves on and the openness to the insights of youth diminish, we begin to think we are the map instead of the already free consciousness which precedes the map, (ego being merely a necessary map or tightly held bundle of thoughts and concepts designed to help us manoeuvre through the world). 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. 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.

Fostering this ability involves the cultivation of joy; to not take life so seriously. In a state of wonderment, we are totally present with all that is. There is no pause in which to feel lacking. Wonderment is a state of heart-filled mind. Suffering cannot find its way in. Ultimately all suffering is a figment of ego; it is rooted in a mind which thinks of itself as separate. All spiritual practice is for the purpose of healing us from this affliction.

Paula Horan

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