Sunday, July 01, 2007

Ego, Ego, on the wall....


" Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but for the patience to win my freedom."
Shantideva


One of the greatest struggles I've had since I returned from Thailand is the ability to release ego. This doesn't mean, by the way, becoming a blob without identity. It means a willingness to give up the idea that we have to somehow be something special, that we have to be better than someone else to have significance.

I was trained, like most of us in the US and other western countries, to believe these things, that we have to be the best and the brightest. We have to be "popular" ... in demand by others. If we don't achieve that, we fall into the rank of "loser", those people who are socially invisible. No one wants to be invisible, unknown and unloved.

I know this makes me unhappy. It makes everyone unhappy. The constant attachment to every outcome is draining. We are never satisfied because we never feel as though we are enough. This makes the producers who want us to consume very happy. We are never enough, we have to have, be and do more. They have a product to help us do that.

Whether it is a tangible product or an ideology, it ultimately leads back to the same thing. "Let me help you be more than you are. I can help you get rid of those yellow teeth. I can help you lose that fat. I can make you desirable. Read my book. Buy my exercise video. Buy my ideology. I've packaged it for you. It's easy and you'll see fast results"

Because another thing is that we can't stand to wait for anything. It has to be right now!

So, we're trained to constantly crave. If that craving isn't satisfied, we become unhappy.

We become unhappy and want to be soothed. So we buy more products, intellectual or tangible, so that we'll feel better.

In the late 70s, I took a course called EST (Erhardt Seminars Training). We all sat in a big room, crammed together, and were told that all we had to do to "win" at "the game of life" was to be something which would in turn cause us to do the right things and then we would have what we want most.

It was based on the Law of Attraction which has been used over the years by plenty of shucksters in different packaging for the masses. If you want something badly enough, you can have it. Secular prosperity theology.

EST was just another spin on the same old thing. Be. Do. Have.

And the white male trainer would tell you in a booming voice that you were an "asshole" if you didn't "get it".

(I paid 4-figures in 70s money to be called an asshole and to be denied toilet access for hours on end. If we had to go to the bathroom, it wasn't a natural function. We were trying to avoid hearing what we needed to hear from the trainer. That was the philosophical backdrop.)

Dr Phil on steroids.

I tried many of these ideologies and seminars, thinking eventually I would find "It". I would find the "It" that would give my life purpose and meaning. I could be the best and the brightest.

When I spent so much time in Khon Kaen, I was introduced to an entirely different way of thinking. We are all in this together. I don't have to be better than anyone else. I don't have to compete in a social marketplace. I was accepted, just as I am ~ including flaws because we all have them. The objective in life was to know that all things are transient. Circumstances come and go. People come and go. It is all the natural ebb and flow of life itself. So just relax and enjoy.

I fit in so perfectly. No pressure.. to be more than I already am.

That was Khon Kaen.

Then I came back here. Came back to the old pressures, the old expectations... and it has never failed to make me unhappy.

I am still struggling through a lot of this. It's unlikely that I will ever achieve perfect Buddha consciousness in this lifetime. I'm a new soul. I'll cycle more. I accept that. It's difficult to purge a lifetime of training.

But I am trying. And will continue to try. Because the quote below is what I want to become.

"May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need."

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama



Be. Do. Have.


Peace,


~Chani

17 comments:

flutter said...

Be. Do. Have.

I think I have a new mantra. Thank you, Chani.

jen said...

Be, Do, Have. Yes.

A place of refuge for all who lack shelter. Yes.

I love your heart.

Anvilcloud said...

You've had a tough row to hoe to get to where you are. I think a lot of these insights have not come easily to you, and your upbringing may have had a lot to do with that. But I think you've gotten to a pretty good place.

Julie Pippert said...

This is awesome, beautiful.

Yes, this is the very thing I am struggling with right now.

Lovely insights, lovely way of thinking.

thailandchani said...

Flutter, the motto works. It all depends on the application. In EST, it was terrible. When applied to something like Buddhism, it is beautiful! :)

~*

Jen, I especially like it in metaphor. I'm reading a book right now called "The Glass Castle". I think you'd like it (because of the metaphorical sense of that).

~*

Anvil, I'm trying. Yes, I am damaged.. but I have the rest of my life and I have Thailand. I don't want my past to own me anymore.

~*

Julie, interesting that we would both be dealing with this at the same time. Maybe it's something in the wind? :)

~*

Peace,

~Ch

MsLittlePea said...

Yeah. That law of attraction thing can really baffle me. I'd love to know how/why I attracted thyroid cancer :o) It's just common sense-if I were negative and looked for negativity, I would find it. But I'm not going to meditate the winning lottery ticket into reality...I never did understand what "game of life" meant. But then again, maybe I'm an "asshole" too. :O)
I wish I weren't such a good little consumer though.

Cecilieaux said...

"Be. Do. Have."

I first rebel against "have." Too acquisitive.

Then I rebel against "do." It contradicts "be," which wins me over.

But be what?

The Dalai Lama's prayer reminds me a lot of the following:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

-- Francis of Assisi

Western spirituality is a lost and forgotten trove for those who seek after such guidance.

Tabba said...

I love to hear your perspective, your journey, your thoughts.

Even though I feel my well is dry right now in regards to having something to say....

I like just the listening part.

Be. Do. Have.

So, so simple.
And we have to complicate it so.

thailandchani said...

Ms Pea, that is the exact thing that makes it impossible for me to buy the entire theory. It can make cruelty somehow acceptable.

The whole "game of life" thing really turned me off in EST also. The terminology offends me..

~*

C, I think it all depends on what we do and what we want to have. That is why the application is what really counts. If I say I want to have serenity, then it would logically follow that I must do certain things to have it. That part is okay.. but the acquisitive application of the principle turns me off. As I said, it is little more than secular prosperity theology.

Love the Francis of Assisi prayer. I have a book of meditations that are all derived from Francis.

As for western spirituality, I just don't know. There are some things I just strongly can't abide.

~*

Tabba, I'm not going to stay on this topic much longer, really. I know it's hard to see someone post about the same thing rather repeatedly. This just seems to have been the weekend for it. :) I'm going to move on. I know what that "well running dry" thing feels like.. and I appreciate you sticking with me through it.

Be. Do. Have. Yeah.. it is pretty simple. :)

~*

Peace,

~Chani

thailandchani said...

All, I meant to mention in my comment to Tabba that I am planning to move on from this tomorrow afternoon. I'm working on some posts about my time in Israel. Some interesting things there. :)

Thanks to all of you for sticking by me. It's been a long weekend.


~Ch

Snoskred said...

Ok. Got the message. I'll stop saying stuff that works for me, and even other people reading this blog because it won't work for you. Though trying it might have been an idea, before throwing it out, but who am I to say anything? ;)

I posted a link in my weekly wrap up yesterday to this article by Craig Harper, which pretty much wraps up my thoughts on the secret.

The Law of Distraction - Some people think when I say positive thoughts that I mean "the secret" - I don't. I think the secret is a load of bollocks making the person(s) behind it an awful lot of money. Craig Harper expresses my thoughts on the "Law of Attraction" and the secret pretty much exactly.

And with that, I'll be taking a break from this for a bit. I'll drop by to read what you have to say, but I won't hassle you with my long, useless comments. ;) Hope that helps..

It's not me spitting the dummy, it's simply me saying this isn't working for either of us, and my value to you seems to be a lot less than your value to me. Writing what I write does take time, even though I'm a very fast typist, and I'll spend that time working on stuff of mine that I've been neglecting lately. Like art - I have 9 projects sitting on the table waiting for me that I haven't touched in weeks because I've been busy, commenting challenges, scam-baiting, my blog.

Number one is trying to find that dream place to live and get away from these noisy school holiday kids, so as soon as I blog I'm off to my dream location for the day as the other half has a day off.

I know others reading this got a lot out of my comments, and took the things I had to say and applied them to their own lives and found it useful. For that it was worth it. ;) I'm slowly finding my way to your blogs. I'm going to be writing about this stuff on my blog more, in the coming days.

I really do wish the best for you, Chani. Good luck with everything. I'll try and resist that urge to "help" and "fix" in future.. ;) It might be difficult for me, and I might sometimes forget, so if you can just forgive me and overlook those times.. ;)

Snoskred
http://snoskred.blogspot.com/

caroline potato said...

Hi Thailand Gal,

I have struggled a lot with the notion of ego and no ego. Well, I could write a pageful on that.

Anyway, this is a good post. I applaud your earnest approach, especially given the terrible training that you went through.

amusing said...

I try to Be, but to be...um...in synch? better? less wounded? more in harmony? more out in the world? I guess I try to be..whatever it is being means for me and that is what I am figuring out. Yup. that's clear, isn't it?

crazymumma said...

Oh yes Chani, that consant pressure to be do have want be better look better no not that way this way lose weight blahblahblah..

It can be so soul destroying.

It is one of the reasons I love reading you, you always pop in these reminders to rise above it.

mitzh said...

Such an inspiring post..

kaliroz said...

I struggle with letting go of ego as well.

I have moments when I feel I'm close and then those fade away and I'm back in the middle of the rat race.

It's all just one big journey. With stops and starts. Sometimes the stops and starts are easy to get through, sometimes not.

painted maypole said...

The idea of having to be the best, and have the best, really resonates with me, and now that my 4.5 year old little girls is so focused on winning, and being first, and having the best thing, and today used the word "loser." It kills me. I don't think she's learned this from me. So at the meager age of 4.5 she has already learned it from the world. It may take a lifetime to unlearn it. I know I struggle with it, still. Thank you for sharing your struggle with it, too.