We have two choices, two ways to live. We are familiar with one, the way of the ego. In fact, normally we choose the way of the ego.
Almost all of our thoughts, feelings and actions are driven by this centre. This centre begins to take shape in childhood.
At each successive stage of our physical and psychological development, this centre becomes stronger and stronger.
Our goal-oriented, ambition-driven and success-at-any-cost value system adds to crystallising the ego.
Ego’s net is wide and complex.
Traps of the Ego
I am the centre: The seeds of this feeling begin in the formative years of childhood. When parents, relatives, neighbours rush to pay attention to the slightest discomfort of a child, the child naturally feels he is the centre. A
ll are working for him; he can demand anything, he is the end, all the rest is meant to fulfil his desires. This ego-fulfilling process begins to grow and become an integral part of one’s perception of self-importance through life.
Again, from childhood, one begins to develop a strong sense of ownership. Regardless of whether it is a toy, a book, a chair, or property, objects get intimately tied with an egoistic sense of possessiveness. Going even further, this feeling of possessiveness extends to people— one’s wife, husband, son, daughters, or friend — we begin to possess people.
The path of “letting go”
The centre, the path of let go is an unfamiliar one for many. We are living in an age where we show a great deal of scepticism and disbelief. Asserting one’s intellect and mind, power and superiority are viewed with awe and response.
The attitude of let go is guided by a totally different understanding of living. It is an attitude where the assertion is not on being a somebody, but in view of the vastness of the universe and the immense mystery of life, it is based on a humble realisation that one is actually a nobody.
It is recognition of the fact that I am not the centre; the centre is outside somewhere, some thing, for some reason: it may be God, a loved one, a tree, a mountain — anything. The deep feeling is that I am living for that. I’m not the end; I am simply a means, a conduit through which life flows.
Excerpts from the book, If It Could Happen To Buddha Why Not You?, by Vasant Joshi, Wisdom Tree, 2010