August 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
One day my friend came over unannounced and, after knocking, heard me politely ask,“Who’s at the door?” To that she answered just as politely, “You are!”
Ego constantly keeps us from seeing things from the point of view of the one standing on the other side of the door. It creates divisions and is a primary source of our own unhappiness. But ego is only an acquired sense of self as a “this” or a “that” which is not the same this or that as anyone else. It is just an idea or thought of who we are that changes over the course of our lives so cannot be said to be our true self; the Changeless Observer.
In meditation, to answer the question of who and what we truly are often means we must follow a slow and sometimes agonizing process of separating ego from the true self. In the mystic process this can lead to the “dark night of the soul,” or a mental chaos that comes more as a result of clinging to the ego than by discovering our true nature. To lessen this chaos it makes sense to ask yourself now exactly whom you think and believe yourself to be, and what it is you want from life.
Asking what you want can be more of an eye opener to your beliefs about self than asking who you are. Gangaji, in her book, “The Diamond in Your Pocket” (ISBN 978-1-59179-552-0) does an excellent job of bringing this question to the fore. After initially identifying what it is you want, she asks you further identify why you want it. Often you’ll find that the answer expresses some fundamental idea about who and what you think you are.
Suppose in answer to your initial question of what you want you answer, “A better life.” Ask yourself then what that will do for you. You may discover the answer reflects a life-long feeling of inadequacy or a life-long feeling of entitlement that reflects a self-image of inferiority or superiority. Whatever the answer, it represents an idea of your self and your ego.
Having ideas of what and who you are and want to be is not in itself a bad thing. It is only when we cling to ideas that have ceased to be of any value or use to us that we experience suffering. And the longer we hold onto outmoded ideas of who we are the closer we come to a full-blown crisis, when the demands of life either force us to change or suffer in stagnation.
Clinging to that which has outlived its usefulness can create a psychological crisis. Clinging to the ego creates a spiritual crisis. In both instances the resolution involves letting go of the false ideas of who and what we are. The difference is that a psychological crisis ends when new ideas of the self replace old ones, while the mystical dark night of the soul is resolved when all ideas about self are abandoned completely. Abandoned and replaced by what appears as Nothingness, but upon entering the door of which is found to be Light and Fullness, your true nature.