If we can’t tell the difference between identification with ego and presence to Life, we are doomed. Truly. We are doomed to a life of suffering. If this sounds extreme, look at what any of your spiritual heroes have said, view their words through this lens, and realize EVERY ONE of them has been saying the same thing!
This morning on Project Joy I waxed passionate about the importance of getting it — REALLY GETTING IT — how dangerous are the voices in the head. I ended with something along the lines of “People should be terrified who believe the voices in their head are the only thing to be trusted.”
This passion was evoked by a conversation about the critical nature of being able to recognize when one is identified with ego and when one is present or close to presence. The specifics were offered by the person who watches a belief that “I know what kind of person someone is by the car they drive.” She knows that’s not true, but she finds herself believing it anyway. Yes! A perfect example of how we 1) allow conditioned mind to choose beliefs over experience, and 2) look to how we “feel” to know what’s true.
Karma/ego/conditioning can do what it does because it FEELS to us so “right, true.”
Is there any problem with this? Not a bit — UNLESS YOU WANT TO END SUFFERING. If you want to end suffering, there’s a big problem because consulting conditioned mind to determine what to do IS the very process of suffering.
How does this apply to Practice? It’s how almost everyone does Awareness Practice! Person goes along and encounters something new in Practice. Person looks to conditioned mind to see if they like it, if they accept it, whether they will go along with it, etc. Now, does that conversation actually happen in conscious awareness? No, the conversation goes much more along the lines of a quiet, often unnoticed, “Nah, that’s not for me, I don’t want to do that.” And that’s the end of it! There’s nothing to flag the person. The “I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it” FEELS so right, so true. “I know me, and that’s not for me.”
As many of you know, I have been guiding a retreat called Going Beyond Fear, Resistance, and Limitations. I have stated that it’s the most powerfully transformative practice offering I have engaged in. With the support and assistance of Practice and Sangha, it is possible to generate income to support anything you want to do in the world while being of assistance to others. As someone noted, “We are being paid to offer service and practice awareness.” People’s reactions have run the gamut from “I don’t want to but I am willing to do it because I am deeply interested in waking up” to leaving Practice altogether. Ego is so threatened that people who have known me for 30+ years suddenly could see clearly that I’m a charlatan just out for their money!
I will assure you that there is nothing bad/wrong/dangerous about this endeavor, nothing against the Precepts the Buddha taught, nothing illegal, immoral, underhanded, or shady. Everything about it is honorable and in integrity with Practice. If a person wants to confront ego, go up against the fear, resistance, and limitations karmic conditioning imposes, this is a tremendous opportunity to do that.
However, if you don’t want to do this, for the love of all that’s holy find something that the voices of egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate are as violently opposed to as this retreat and do that thing to prove to yourself that you can be free of ego’s domination in this very lifetime.
And I do hope that any of you who realize how much the voices in your head have been controlling your life and your practice will grasp all your willingness and courage and join our retreat.
I want us to be absolutely clear about this: I don’t care what anyone does with their life. I have no need to try to save anyone from themselves. But this I do want: I want people to know what’s going on and how the choices they’re making are resulting in the experiences they’re having.
This is why it is absolutely VITAL to be able to tell the difference between the voices of ego maintenance and Authentic Nature and to practice with something that dismantles ego’s comfort and control over our life force.