Saturday, August 12, 2006

Stress and the ego

Well, they cause suffering, don't they? Here's a description of how that works from an article by Pema Chödrön:
It's as if you had vast, unlimited space —complete openness, total freedom, complete liberation —and the habit of the human race is to always, out of fear, grasp onto little parts of it. And that is called ego and ego is grasping on to the content of our thoughts. That is also the root of suffering, because there is something in narrowing it down which inherently causes us a lot of pain because it is then that we are always in a relationship of wanting or not wanting. We are always in a struggle with other people, with situations, even with our own being. That's what we call stress. That's what we experience as continual, on-going stress. Even in the most healthy, unneurotic of us, there's some kind of slight or very profound anxiety of some kind, some kind of uneasiness or dissatisfaction.
Then she explains the choice between alleviating our suffering or choosing to prolong it:
But what is always accessible to us in any moment as our birthright is actually the completely open and vast nature of our mind. And what we call ego is narrowing it down and grasping on to small parts, which is our personal experience is saying, "I want this and I don't want that," "I like this and I don't like that." We are grasping onto our limited thinking instead of staying with what's really possible for us.
Finally she sums up mindfulness:
It also isn't getting rid of thoughts so much as letting thoughts play in the vast space of which we are a part, if we could only realize it.
"If we could only realize it." We can train ourselves to begin to realize it by meditating and by letting go of ego-grasping. Even if at first we can only do this in small ways, those small ways will help us develop the skills we need for letting go of stronger, more deeply entrenched attachments. The important thing to remember is commitment and perseverence. Never give up and liberation is yours!

1 comment:

  1. L.K. Wilson1:17 PM

    I watched Pema Chodron on PBS with Bill Moyers. I found that interview amazing. Afterwards I went to the beliefnet site and read an another interview with her which originally was in Then Sun magazine. She is really saying the same things I've heard at Meditation, however, I need to hear them frequently. The world comes in on me and I forget all those good things and succumb to my ego. That need to be reminded often of these things is what keeps me reading Meditation Matters every day. Thanks

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