Madhavananda: 2008-06-11 - 14:53:17 +03:00
Ego, the ever-vigilant and constantly self-asserting pseudo-self, forms the heart of our troubled existence. Today being the 28th anniversary of my present incarnation in a long series of egotic absorptions, I can think of no subject more suitable to touch on than that of the ego.
We've all been subjected to sermons detailing how we aren't this body. Some may be familiar with the Vedantic theory of five koshas, or layers, that form the conditioned entity. Others may be more familiar with the Buddhist theory of five skandhas, or aggregates, that similarly make up the conditioned being.
That's all fine as a theory. Yet where the ego has self-enthroned itself, the mental faculties function in an inherently self-serving manner. There is little real solace to be found in the theoretical mastery of the ego-theory --- even the subtlest contemplations are transmutated into ego-fuel with wondrous ease.
We are best familiar with the flavor of ego that sustains us in the identity of a master of sensual and mental enjoyments, the gross ego-stereotype that is first highlighted as the non-self in many spiritual traditions. However, while there is an ego at the heart of the enjoyer, there is also an ego of the escaper.
While the ego of the escaper, the noble spiritualist, is of a finer grade than that of the materialist, it is not beyond being able to generate formidable levels of existential delusion. Assuming one is firm in conscious cultivation, the spiritually progressive ego will eventually resolve itself with the rise of penetrating wisdom. In the interim, it is fundamentally venomous, just as its dark counterpart is.
There are countless angles from which to explore the spiritual ego problem. While I cannot lay claim to having mastered the problem, I have over a decade of ego-driven spirituality under my belt, and with it a fair sense of its foul taste --- even if the depth of it all has began dawning on me only quite recently.
At the heart of reality, there is no permanent self to be found. The co-arising and interdependent flow of mind-matter generates a sense of an individual self that lies at the root of the drama, a dreamy focal point of action, a shabby ego-entity that perpetually seeks to reinforce its own sense of reality, protecting the viscosity of the conglomerate entity from the tear of the constantly rising and falling phenomena it consists of.
For one reason or another, it wasn't your lot to become a successful world-enjoyer. Leave the lime-lights, the arena of gross materialism. Become a spiritual hero, a transcendent conqueror, an ego-entity conceiving of itself as a creature of light and goodness. Pride yourself in your integrity, in your benevolence, in your quest, in your nobility of purpose. You are real, your spirituality is real, and the world you inhabit is real. Build that prison of light, bind yourself with goodness.
Aho, he becomes the compassionate helper of fellow seekers. Aho, he becomes the tireless servant of the teacher. Aho, he becomes a knower of the rites and the scripture. Aho, he becomes a symbol of spirituality. Aho, he becomes a world-teacher, he becomes a savior, and he becomes an avatar. Aho, he becomes an emphasized one that is contrasted with others, and so the cage of light grows firmer.
The whole concept of striving for an attainment is a facade. There is no light, nor is there darkness. There is no substance in bondage, nor in liberation. Dualities born of the mind will vanish with the mind. With the disappearance of the eye, light and darkness evaporate. With the disappearance of the ego-conception, labels of spirit and matter fade.
There is only plain reality, and plain reality doesn't seek to assert itself, nor does it invite you to project over it a hundred dreams, to feel of it in a thousand ways, or to conceptualize it into millions of carefully crafted divisions. The interdependent and self-contained flow of aggregates just flows. It seeks no second to assert its flowing.
But alas, the ego is busy in its attempts to manipulate the flow in a manner serving its hallucinations. What comes of its own accord is perfect and natural --- but not for the ego, for the ego feeds on contrasts. Attachments and aversions, pleasures and pains, the momentum of arising dualities and the subsequent involved emotion-conceptualization exchange contribute to the sense of reality the ego seeks to establish and guard.
Desirelessness and disinvolvement from anything not presenting itself of its own accord is the venom of venoms for the ego, provided one is skillful enough to not let the ego seize these qualities as medals of spiritual valor on the chest of its proud uniform, turning them into a show of spirituality and again embarking on a delusory trip of delving on contrasts.
Wisdom in its very core is nothing but the absence of delusions. There is no active wisdom as such in the ultimate, no wisdom-concept-processor to keep itself busy generating a profound interplay of wiseness. Wisdom is nothing but plain perception of nature, non-involved experience of the suchness of existence.
In eliminating the spiritual ego, fatalism and nihilism are two very real enemies raising their ugly heads. Fatalism and nihilism are conquered by profound mindfulness growing from repeated trials, trials meeting both success and failure. Fortunately, there is ultimately no-one of any impact to register our progress --- the path is ours alone to walk, and we have all the time in the world to do it.
Facing the facts can be a disorienting experience, but it is also a fountain of supreme peace. The absurdity of the resilient ego-projection we are enmeshed in is in fact a matter of great humor. I often find myself laughing at myself, the many attempted personae, and the extensions of the process in the form of countless emanations and excrements, this very writing before your eyes one among many such curiosities.• Kirjoita kommentti