The taming of the shrew

Character is like chiselling a statue; one has to knock off huge hunks of selfishness. Only then does character begin to emerge.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 16:27 IST

Character is like chiselling a statue; one has to knock off huge hunks of selfishness. Only then does character begin to emerge.

— Fulton J. Sheen

Your ego has had years of being in control. In order to tame this savage beast, you need to follow a set of exercises. For those of you who are not sure that the ego exists by itself, that it has its own mind and is not always in your control, sample this: very often, when you wake up in the morning, you have a melody or song that keeps playing in your head.

After a while, it becomes extremely annoying as it simply refuses to go away. Where does this song come from? If you think that it came from you, that you decided to play it in your head, then why can't you get rid of it? Then if it isn't you who decided to play and continually replay the song, then who is it? The ego, that's who folks!

In order to conquer this ego of yours, it's necessary to exercise your mind. And surely, the first exercise that you mind must do is to meditate. Meditating quietens the ego. It sounds rather simple, but it's more difficult to tame ego, as it simply doesn't want to be quiet. It enjoys the constant chattering and the resulting confusion.

The trick is therefore not to try too hard. Just give way, release control and let the experience take you where it will. Not being in control is scary for most people. The past, the future, what happens next, are all the realms of the ego. The true self, has no need for these perspectives. There is only one true reality, and that's now. Meditating increases the awareness of now.

The second exercise is suppression of the will. The first question that you must ask yourself is, "Is what I want really what 'I' want, or is it what my ego wants it?" If it has to do with who you think you should be, who you want to be, or who you would like to be, then it's the ego's will. If you are like most, you might discover that much of what you want falls into the realm of the ego. The truth is that you already are everything you want to be. You're perfection in action.

So what might you possibly want? The only thing you really need is the awareness of what already is! Try not to control life for a day. Go where the path takes you. Encounter experiences, people, places and things and observe the lessons that each has to offer.

Beware of the lessons and beware of the opportunities. There are many of each in a day, most of which escape the average person because people are so busy trying to create reality that reality often passes by. Get in the flow and like the seed blown by the wind, life's flow might take you to where you are supposed to be, where you need to be.

The next exercise is to do what you fear. There is magic in this action. The more you work on facing your fears, the more you realise that you continually need to learn. The practice of encountering your fears creates great leaps in knowledge about yourself and everything else. Conquering this fear is the beginning of gaining wisdom.

The fourth exercise in taming the ego is to do what you don't want to do. It takes great self-discipline to go against your feelings, your thoughts, and your attitude about something that you don't want or like. Initially, until you make a concerted effort to do otherwise, the ego may command control of the functions and that's what makes it so difficult.

The fifth exercise is very demanding and highly challenging. It involves becoming passive to the things that annoy you. Passivity does not merely mean putting up with the annoyance. It's not a separation, like ignoring or denying that the annoyance is occurring. It's a kind of submissiveness.

The dictionary states that being passive is being the object instead of the subject of an action. It entails being actively involved in the annoyance and changing your actions and awareness from having it bother you to allowing it to happen and then doing nothing about it.

It's a completely different perspective than we are accustomed to. Ideally, it moves us to a state of awe and amazement about what we see.

The last exercise is easier for some, though for others it might be more difficult. It's easier for some because it's a physical exercise.

It involves changing the habitual pattern of your life. Most people get into the rhythm of existence and may experience an entire lifetime without changing a thing. This habitual rhythm has hypnotic, trance-like qualities that create comfort and order, yet deter advancement and creativity.

For those of you who want to be successful, hear this: comfort is not the objective of existence, growth is!
If you get up at a fixed time every morning, say 7:00 am try waking up at 4:00 am. Take up walking or some other form of physical exercise.

Change your eating patterns. Do something! These physical changes will not necessarily lead you onto the spiritual path of success, but by not changing your physical patterns, you surely can't get there. Remember, if you want to change your life, you have to first change your ideas and beliefs. Its simplicity is inarguable, and yet its wisdom escapes many. So keep doing what you are doing, and you will certainly get what you want.

Here are some points to ponder...

1The only thing you really need is the awareness of what already is.

2The reality switch, the change in causation, is the mother of invention

3People are so busy trying to create reality that reality often passes by

4Comfort is not the objective of existence, growth is!

5By changing the input, you change the output.

6The conquering of fear is the beginning of gaining wisdom. n

Courtesy: The spirituality of success: Getting rich with integrity by Vincent M. Roazzi, published by MacMillan India

First Published: Jun 08, 2006 16:27 IST