“Seeing the truth about our own ego is not usually an easy or comfortable process. We spend a lot of time building up and defending this “I” as if it had a real stability and substance. In fact this “I” is really a process with very little real continuity other than the stream of stresses and strains that has shaped it.
“When we become committed to leading a spiritual life, to growing and opening ourselves to change and uncertainty, the ego reacts with fear and resistance. If we let this agitation dominate our awareness we will not only find change impossible, we will eventually cut off the nourishment for our spiritual development.
“The good news is that human beings are capable of remarkable personal evolution and change. If we look to the power behind the ego we come face to face with the same power that manifests this whole universe. In that vision and experience of the ultimate, the “I” is simply transcended.”
Sometimes the tools and inspiration come to us from out of, it seems, the air. This has been happening to me lately. The first time was last Saturday when we spent some time with my husband’s cousin. At the end of our visit, I changed Gabriel’s diaper and should have really left the room but lingered to check out her books. Shortly after, she came in and we started talking about spirituality, straying from the strict doctrine of the Catholic church. One thing led to another as we each had ownership of Linda Goodman’s books, “Sun Signs” and “Love Signs”. She also had “Star Signs” and a few others. She let me have 3 books to read, “The Red Tent”, which I thoroughly enjoyed and it only took me 2 days to read, AND almost bought several times. The other two are “The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents”, which, BTW, she has no children of her own and told me that she believed that it was meant to be mine, even when she bought it, “You know how sometimes we buy things on impulse that we don’t really need?”; the other book is “The Mists of Avalon” which I never thought to even read because I already knew the King Arthur/Merlin stories. It seems that this title is told from the woman’s point of view. The 876 pages scares me a bit, but I am looking forward to getting into it.
Getting to the quote above. This comes from one of my own books that has been hiding for a few years entitled “The Open Moment (Reflections on the Spiritual Life)”, by Swami Chetanananda. I actually thought I’d given this book away as I had other new age-type books. My son finally ferreted it out for me, as he does ALL my books, and I started leafing through it. I noted the section on “Ego” which has got to be my biggest challenge in life. Yes, I do feel, very much so, the agitation the passage above speaks of. I find it ironic because of my early life spent being very insecure, with LOW self esteem. I often wonder how this can be, that I am being possessed of a huge ego, yet spend my life being insecure. I know there’s an answer out there, but I need to find it myself. Maybe it’s the child-like, immature ego inside screaming that I AM WORTHY and, like a child, takes more than it’s share when it gets the chance to make up for the times it is denied.
Why are my eyes stuck between awake and asleep? I am afraid to cross over that bridge leading to true Christianity, or maybe wishful thinking of what I think it should be. My priest says that we are all human and that we cannot escape it and that God knows this and loves us in spite of it. I do believe that with all my heart, even while I know we can never be totally like Christ, though we “strive” to be like Him. What does the word “strive” mean? Don’t we need to actually accomplish something when we strive for it; or is intention enough? I find it cannot be enough because we must find the strength to ACT on our good intentions and beliefs; and not only talk about it, or just “believe it”. It’s so easy to believe we have actually done something for real, when in reality, we’ve only just fantasized about it. I have found myself doing this very thing. An opportunity will arise and I envision myself following through. I will experience a feeling of satisfaction and it seems to stop there. I never took the steps to follow through with what I intended to; and part of the reason (or all of it) is this feeling of satisfaction; as if I had already went through the whole process I created for myself. Maybe this is why you sometimes have to act without too much thought.
I find that I am a purist in a lot of things, and I take, literally, the words of the bible. I know that times have changed, but I believe that the same words apply to us, in this time, as much as they did back then in the early church…. And I am not just talking about ideas here; I am talking about literal scenarios. When Jesus said we should help others, I want to really go out of my way, but take it so far that it’s not physically safe for me. My example is of a time I met a homeless mother and wanted to get clothes to her but she had no transportation. I was actually contemplating meeting her father in a totally different neighborhood to give the clothes. Then I was thinking about taking her in… All good ideas, but I did not know this girl from a hole in the wall. She did have a “fiancé” (somewhere) and she had an 8 month old who had no clothes on his back, with winter closing in. Sadly, I was not thinking of the safety of myself, or my family. In the end, I never heard from her, so I donated the clothes to a shelter. It’s a pity that we must hold ourselves back like this. On the other hand, I could have turned into an enabler by doing for her, what she should have been doing for herself. I did give her information on public assistance out there, but I am not sure if she ever followed up on it.
If you are still with me, I’ll close with another ego quote from the same book. BTW, I am glad that I have this book. I now have a tool to help me focus on different things I want to talk about. Thanks for staying with me.
“What if the self that we understood we were yesterday, was the person that we had to live with from now on? What if that were true? It wouldn’t be pretty would it? It’s a wonderful thing to be released from whom we think we are, because who we think we are is really a fabrication.” ~Swami Chetanananda