Thich Nhat Hanh on compassion

The Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Dear friends, dear people, I know that you suffer a lot. I have not understood enough of your difficulties and suffering. It is not our intention to make you suffer more. It is the opposite. So please, tell us about your suffering, your difficulties. I am eager to learn, to understand.”

<tears>

 

Embracing the ego (III.)

Embracing the egoAnd so, embracing ego & everything else inside the chest and head is what may as well be the single most important strategy for me, besides meditation, that is..

It is the power of human consciousness (which is far beyond body, emotions and thoughts) that does the work. It is the total Abstract Potential, The One Source of everything. Even more, IT IS everything, even anger, fear, disease, pain and pepsi. So why not embracing it?

(please, read the previous two Blogs on the subject, here: Embracing the ego >> and Emberacing the ego (II) >> )

I offer an interesting and quite relevant point of view for your consideration. It is a point of view of a Jiddu Krishnamurti (you can check out the whole text here >>)

Here we go:

Questioner: Is there any difference between awareness and that of which we are aware? Is the observer different from his thoughts?

Krishnamurti: The observer and the observed are one; the thinker and his thoughts are one. To experience the thinker and his thought as one is very arduous for the thinker is ever taking shelter behind his thought; he separates himself from his thoughts to safeguard himself, to give himself continuity, permanency; he modifies or changes his thoughts, but he remains. This pursuit of thought apart from himself, this changing, transforming it leads to illusion. The thinker is his thought; the thinker and his thoughts are not two separate processes.
(you can check out the whole text here >>)

I would like to close this “Embracing ego” series with the sharing of wisdom of one of my favorite Buddhists, Thicht Nhat Hanh.

If we replace word anger with the word ego (or any other element of inner psychological dynamics), well, that is more or less it.

Thank you for reading my Blog.
🙂

Here we go:

 

 

Embracing the ego (II.)

Embracing the egoSome relevant new questions regarding the topic of dealing with the ego (please see my previous Blog on the subject, here >>) have arisen and I am grateful for it. It is a very serious and important topic for me and I am more than happy to write about it.

OK, here we go:

Q: In your Blog you say that there is no real need to renounce the ego. Most spiritual masters claim quite the opposite. Why do you think that is?

A: Well, thank you for reading my Blog. You rise a very good question. Thank you. I will try to explain my understanding of this important topic in as few words as possible.

Dealing with personal aspects of spiritual development is a matter of choice, in my opinion. It is all about the levels of psychological-spiritual identity development, you see. Some deal with personal levels and some do not.

Most truly liberated spiritual masters (say, Ramana Maharshi or Anandamayi Ma) are conveying their teachings from the level which they attained (the Causal or Nondual, both Vedanta nondual and the Buddhist one). And in most cases, the level which spiritual masters speak from is faaaaaaar above any personal level (Mental ego and Authentic levels). For example, my dear Anandamayi Ma is reported to have laughed when one of Her devotees came to Her in distress due to a death in his family.

In practice that may mean that a simple guy from the street will have a very hard time both understanding and implementing such teachings. An average level of attainment on this planet is not even the Authentic level, what to speak of the transpersonal ones, in my estimation. So go figure.

So, while from the highly liberated states of awareness (the Causal and Nondual) ego indeed seems like an illusion, from personal levels this can not be the case. Well, at least not for me. What it comes down to, in my experience, is what path one took to reach the purely transpersonal states of awareness.

I can not speak about the others, nor do I want to, and as far as I am concerned, my path is the Tantric one. That means, in real practice, not only in theory or on the intellectual level, that I deny nothing. In other words, the Tantric path is all about accepting, embracing and tolerating, well, everything.

Q: What do you mean by “accepting, embracing and tolerating, well, everything”? I don’t understand.
In practice, what does that relate to, please?

Yes. Again, excellent question. 🙂

Well, in practice that means that I am open to every single thought and emotion in my awareness. I resist or deny no troublesome experience from the past, for example. And, above all, I do not involve others in my dramas. I know perfectly clear that it is neuro-biologically impossible for others to directly trigger anything in my inner climate. So I do not bother with others in this regard.

There is only One Life for me, only One Living Consciousness that is simultaneously the Source or the Witness and the manifestation.

Well, there is only One Life, meaning that there is only One Being breathing in me. And my thoughts, emotions, intentions, fears, hopes, pain, regrets and aspirations are His thoughts, emotions, intentions, fears, hopes etc. There is no duality involved here. No separateness.

In fact, the ego is as real as it can get. It is no illusion, nothing is. All is Radiant, Alive and Eternal continuous Flow of Life. All is Divine, nothing is non-divine.

And that being the case, why on Earth would I want to deny anything? Everything is part and particle of the One Whole.
There is none else besides Him/Her.
See?

Q: Well, on the intellectual level, I get it.
In practice I think I am very much used to focus on the positive side in my life.

Yes, I hear you. I can relate, for I have been there. I was in self denial for the longest time, rejecting the personal aspects of my life. Basically that means that I was in relative pain most of the time.

Anyway…I do realize that the notion of embracing the pain, sadness, regrets etc. is a radical paradigm change for most of us. It is not a newly fresh notion, though. Tantra has been teaching this for thousands of years.

When the sadness (or any kind of “negative” emotion) arises, a “normal” and habitual reaction is to divert the attention to something else, or to seek out help with the aim of getting rid of it.

Well, what I am talking about here is that embracing the sadness, taking time to assimilate it, to integrate it into awareness is so much more effective in the long run. Human awareness is transpersonal, transcendental and has an enormous power and potential.

There is a source, a cause for all emotions and thoughts in our lives. And contrary to the popular opinion, that source is in our hearts. Humanistic psychology has labeled this, the needs or potentials.

From the Authentic level, I might say that our transpersonal nature wants to express itself, the Soul is trying to flow the Life into our lives and we can become aware of this Life by becoming aware of our innermost needs/potentials. When the needs or potentials are not really expressed, negative emotions manifest from within.

So the strategy I employ is to embrace all emotions and by embracing them, I can penetrate deeper into the Heart by becoming aware of the potentials or needs in my Heart.

And the Heart is not any heart, it is the Source of everything, it is the Causal self, the Eternal Being, which is only playing. It is all Lila, a play. And most of us seem to suffer because we are aware of neither the Player nor of the Play.

And the path, my path, to becoming and staying aware of the Player and the Play is to embrace the Play, to embrace and emphatically relate to the every single element of my inner life. And it works.

I would also like to invite you all to watch Wilber explain the Ego development. Some really good and important points he makes in this interview.

Here we go:

Embracing the ego

Embracing the egoIn this Blog I want to touch upon an important and controversial topic: dealing with the ego.

Ego in this context means the basic principle of human mind, which is a base of everyday personality. There is the mind and at the core of the human mind there is the ego – that basic notion of I and Mine (and I am me and you are you; my needs are mine and your needs are yours etc.) that is usually driving the car of our mundane and spiritual existence.

Various spiritual traditions usually offer only one option: cutting off the ego and everything that goes with it (attachment to power, money, sex, enjoyment etc.).

Christianity has an interesting opinion on the subject it seems and while maybe intellectually “sin” is an appealing concept, I don’t want to go there.

Buddhists seem to point in the same direction: transcend the mundane pleasures as soon as possible, for all life is in fact, suffering.

Most Hindu traditions (Vedanta doctrines: Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga etc.) suggest similar strategies: renouncing the ego is the way. Sri Ramana Maharshi himself has often spoken about the ego as enlightenment enemy number one.

I am not really familiar with the Islam teachings, so I will refrain from commenting that tradition.

New Age movement, well, their exclusive focus on the Light and Positive vibrations kind of rules the ego (with its negativity) out by definition, it seems.

It seems to me that all of the aforementioned traditions perceive ego as something negative, some kind of a burden that needs to be eliminated or at least ignored for the greater good, of course (greater good being spiritual awakening or at least one way ticket to heaven).

Even modern psychotherapy practice, in general, seems to be focused on eliminating the problems and personal issues forgetting in the process that eliminating negativity from inner psycho-dynamic climate is only one side of the coin.

Well, while most of population on this planet (and most of readers of this Blog, I take it) might subscribe to one or more than one tradition mentioned above, I would nevertheless like to rise these questions:
– What is the ego, really?
– If ego is a part of our mind and part of the whole being, why eliminate/negate/ignore it in the first place?

No, seriously, if the ego is a part of my whole being and psychological-spiritual identity (which actually is the case), cutting it off would amount to cutting off any other part of my whole being, would it not?

I have been down that road, you know. Surfing on the high waves of my previous spiritual attainments, I was dealing with my ego mindlessly and rather ruthlessly. Like a jealous despot, invaded by the scarcity thinking, I was pushing away the most important elements of my inner climate: desires and attachments to material side of life. Desiring only transpersonal existence, I was ready to renounce everything that offered me a mundane scent.

What a fu**ing idiot I was. LOL

Of course, now that I am older and maybe a bit wiser, I can see that it was only a process. A process that needed to unfold as it has. No problems there.

Kali TantraWhat I would like to offer in this Blog, however, is that there is no real need to deny anything. No ego is responsible for any kind of trouble along the spiritual path. Besides, how can I really renounce something which I don’t really own?

Having a strong and flexible ego means I will very easily integrate it when the right time comes.

Ego is only as strong as my aversion to itself is. That means that ego as an obstacle is an obstacle only as long as I am denying it.

Ego and its fateful subjects: power, pleasure and attachment to pleasure, money, sex, good food, fancy cloths, fear, aversion, sadness,  anger etc. are only what they are: a part of the overall being.

There is no point in denying my desires, attachment to pleasure, money, sex etc. Why on earth would I wanna do that?!

If God is everything, isn’t S/He in pleasure as well?

My point is that denying anything really only adds to inner conflict. Scriptural injunctions, prohibitions, rules, hard core discipline etc. – is all of that really REALLY adding to the beauty and joy in the current flow of Life in my awareness?

The ultimate Truth, the Absolute state of awareness, according to self-realized individuals (Ramana Maharshi, Lahiri Mahasaya, Buddha etc.) is non-different from everyday life awareness.

So, my path is a Tantric one: embrace everything, integrate each and every thought, emotion, feeling and inspiration, no matter how mundane it may seem.

Offering tons and tons of empathy and love to my own “material ego”, lovingly sitting with and tolerating and integrating even the most incredibly negative tendencies in my inner climate –  in short, embracing the ego and all it stands for has brought me inner peace, freedom and joy and free flow along the all possible stages of human awareness (as per Wilber map).

All Life is One. Goddess Kali is Everything, All in All.
Embracing the ego may instigate or invite Her blessings. And when Her blessings manifest, everything just falls right into place. Easily.

One story I would like to share with you. At one of our group meditation rituals a dear friend of mine has shared his insights into levels of existence, he said:

“There is a soul which is incarnated in the body, conditioned by the limited brain functions and sensory input. And the Lila, the game of the Gods, the mundane existence, is unfolding in front of the soul. And the trick is to turn away from the Lila, from the mundane play and to direct the attention to the Originator and the Source of everything. Focusing on Absolute adds to the soul and her awakening.”

Well, our Sitaram has nailed it yet again.
🙂

I would like to add, though, that there is no real need for turning away.
No need to turn my back to the mundane play, for the Absolute truth is also in the relative elements of the worldly play. And focusing on these elements of our relative existence, responsibly  and carefully employing advanced rituals – that is and has been called Tantra for ages. Embracing everything and integrating everything along the spiritual path.

I wish someone would have explained that to me years ago. It would have spared me a lot of needless suffering and self denial.

What about you?
How do you deal with your ego and mundane tendencies?