Wednesday, July 1, 2009

From Ego to Essence


Making things more important than they are is one way the ego keeps us out of the present moment. This is particularly apparent when something truly important happens, like when you or someone close to you nearly dies or goes through some other crisis. This puts the other things the ego magnifies in importance into perspective. The ego doesn’t have perspective, which is one reason we suffer when we are identified with it. Its perspective is narrow: To it, life is good when we’re getting what it wants and bad when we aren’t. The trouble is that the ego’s desires aren’t a good guide for what’s important in life or for what will make us happy. And the ego often overlooks what might really make us happy, such as taking some time to just be, to connect with loved ones, or to do something fun or creative. The ego tends to drive us to achieve, improve ourselves, and get more things, and while there is a place for all of this, focusing exclusively on what the ego wants can leave us feeling empty, disconnected from life, exhausted, and never having or being enough.

The ego tells us we have to have certain things or be a certain way to be happy, and the ego is wrong about this; we don’t. It also assumes that every step along the way toward its plan for happiness has to work out or the plan will be ruined, and we will never achieve happiness. Every little difficulty and challenge we encounter is felt to be proof of failure and therefore a cause for unhappiness, rather than a natural part of the process of life unfolding. Every action and event is examined from the standpoint of whether it will get the ego what it wants or interfere with that. The ego has many goals, and it sees events in life as either helping it toward those goals or hindering it. If something helps, it’s good, and a successful and happy life seems possible. If something hinders, it’s bad, and a failed and unhappy life is assumed to be your destiny.

The suffering starts with an evaluation of something as good or bad, and that is followed by a story of what that will mean—being a success or failure, being happy or unhappy, being loved or lonely, having ease or having to struggle, being rich or being poor. The ego thinks in terms of black and white, never shades of gray; and life just isn’t like that. The ego’s reality is black and white, but real reality is messy, complex, unpredictable, and no one story you can tell about it is true. The ego doesn’t like that, of course. It likes its stories of good and bad and the drama and suffering they cause. It likes its stories because they give it a false sense of security, a sense of knowing how life is. The ego isn’t looking for truth; it just wants a story it can believe is true so that it can pretend it knows how and where life is going.

The ego is in the business of creating suffering because your suffering keeps you tied to it and allows it to exist. If you stopped suffering, you would no longer be identified with it, and it would stop existing—you would stop experiencing yourself as this “me” who has this problem and that problem, this desire and that goal, this self-image and that past. The ego only exists as a story about “you.” Nothing else. So, that story better be a dramatic one, or you’ll lose interest and drop out of your mind and into the present moment, where the ego disappears.

The ego has quite a racket going: It makes even small things a life and death matter to keep you involved with it. If something is important, and it’s going wrong, which is the ego’s basic story, then you’d better pay attention to the ego’s solution for fixing it, or you’ll really have a problem. It keeps you attentive to it with its stories and then with dealing with the feelings those stories generate and then the actions needed to make those stories turn out better. Yes, it has quite a racket going.

Meanwhile, life is happening in its own way, in its own time, and you are missing out on what is really going on because you’re busy trying to live out your story and make it turn out the way the ego wants. Most people’s lives are about getting their story to turn out the way they want, regardless of what Life, or the greater Intelligence behind it, might have in mind. People suffer so much when their ego’s desires don’t match what life is bringing them, and this suffering is so unnecessary.

The ego’s desires are created by the ego. Why build your life around them when something much deeper is at play, living and directing your life? You might miss what Essence is moving you to do if you’re too busy being moved by the ego. You can live your life as the ego intends or as Essence intends, and most people’s lives are a combination of the two. Paying attention to the ego’s stories and what’s important to it, however, will bring you a lot of pain because it tells sad and scary stories most of the time, and you will design your life to ward off what it fears rather than enjoy the life that Essence can create through you.

To the ego, life is a battle it’s trying to win, and every little difficulty feels like a threat to its self-image, life, and happiness, but that’s its perspective. To Essence, life is an experience to be enjoyed, an opportunity for exploration, discovery, growth, love, and service. Who is there here to battle with? The ego tilts at windmills. When you know yourself as the Oneness, it is a friendly universe, where you welcome and accept difficulties (including the challenge of your own and other people’s egos), not as your enemy but as your friend, or at least your teacher. When you are happy and aligned with Essence, the unimportant, small things in life stay small. They are seen in proper perspective. Essence gives you back your perspective, which is a very good reason to join with it rather than with the ego. When you do, life becomes easier, not because anything has changed, but because your perspective has.

by Gina Lake;

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