Friday, February 16, 2018

Self-Improvement is as Useful as Renovating a Prison

The special ones are all asleep, surrounded by a world of loveliness they do not see.
(A Course in Miracles)

The ego is an energy field. It is superimposed on us like a virtual headset, distorting our perception of what is. To a greedy person, everything will have a dollar sign attached to it. A power-hungry person only sees worthwhile connections, never mind the folks who waste his time. As we all know so well, the ego comes in many facets and flavors. We can fill in here whatever it is that makes our heart jump.

Can we be free from ego? Sure, once we stand next to the burning bush as Moses once did. In the ‘I AM THAT I AM’ state that energy field leaves us, but until that blessed moment we unfortunately have to accept the fact that we all carry it around. The ego thinks, feels and pretends it is us. Can we experience stages of ego attachment? Sure, spiritual folks will probably see the loveliness the Course in Miracles refers to a bit more often; but then, before we know it the blinders are back on.

We cannot run away from this energy field called ego, and we cannot hide from it. Withdrawing into the mountains of Nepal will not take away our selfishness, greed, or lust. A more inspiring scenery will merely mitigate that stimulus that otherwise would supercharge our ego in life’s challenging ups and downs. Viewed from that perspective, there is no telling what we should do. Plunge into life’s messiness and risk being deluded. Start an idealistic spiritual journey and risk running away from life.

What to do? Life has a habit of telling us what it has in store for us. Sometimes we like the message, and sometimes not. Often we have a love-hate relationship with what comes our way. We wish we were somewhere else and alternate between happiness and misery. Have trust that it will be a journey of self-discovery, and eventually, ego transcendence. God knows what He is doing. God looks out for everyone and eagerly waits for the return of His children. Unfortunately, everyone has to diffuse this energy field in their idiosyncratic fashion.

There is a danger in our spiritual community to feel ‘holier than thou’. That too is an ego trip. So what if you see the loveliness that your brother overlooks. The moment you look down on him, the ego has reclaimed his empire. Perhaps you like this self-created fellow better than the guy who accumulates, who schemes or lusts, but that is only your perspective. You are also not any closer to God than your brother who runs after what is meaningful to him. Your carrot may look more appetizing, but the donkey who runs after his spiritual carrot is the same.

J. Krishnamurti used to say that ‘self-improvement’ is as meaningful as renovating a prison cell. Either we experience the ‘I AM THAT I AM’ state here and now, or we are bound by ego. It is either or. You can get disappointed now and throw your spiritual books into the corner, or you can feel liberated by the insight that we are all in the same boa . No one away from the burning bush has any business criticizing thw brother who runs after the promising looking Fata Morgana.

It is fun to be a spiritual traveler, isn’t it? We see loveliness more often than not, and we have fun traveling the Way. Others are in love with their cravings, we are in love with life itself. The path of mindfulness is insightful; our energy work and meditation makes us serene and confident more often than not. Express your passions in a purposeful way and just see what happens. Continue to follow your path without expectations, without anxiety and without judgement of others and just see what happens.

God is patiently waiting for the moment when the snake is ready to shed its skin. May your path be blessed. I have a hunch that it is!

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