You can know that your ego is active in relationships when there is any of the following:
- Use of sharp tones
- Non-acceptance of what is, what people say and what they do. Judging them wrongly
- Putting people in a tight spot, correcting them all the time
- Cutting people. Making people defensive by catching their words
- Replying literally to mere words rather than understanding the context
- Criticising, blaming, negative thinking and fault finding. Use of abusive or hurtful words
- Disturbed inner energy
- Haphazard breathing pattern
- Communicating everything, heightened righteousness
- Trying to love deeply and becoming possessive
- Inability to speak concisely, with few, sweet, slow-paced and gently spoken words.
We are the world
People are all the same at the core. Anything spoken out of unawareness triggers the unawareness in others. Psychologically everybody is the same, only actions seem to differ. We have the same brains but we don’t see it the same way because we have been competing with each other, artificially marking the brains as different. It is so evident that across the world human beings are suffering. We are living in a world of shortage; there is so much anxiety, fear, insecurity, confusion, mental illnesses, fear of getting hurt [emotionally and physically] and fear of death.
Initially, I tried to stay away from what I didn’t like in people and realised that I felt very uncomfortable. I resisted a lot to accept what I didn’t like in others. The transformation came when I started seeing myself in my friends, my parents, my neighbours, and the world as an extension of myself, just like my hands are am extension of me. The engine, i.e. the brain, is the same in all of us with just a difference in our interpretations, which is the root cause of all fights and conflicts around us. Once you start seeing yourself in others, you will not have to change anybody.
Other people have their conditioning, we have ours. They react to our conditioning; we see their reaction and not the reason behind it, which could be us or the way they see us.
We want to feel included in our circles all the time, accepted by people and for this we try to be significant and instead get excluded from our groups. Psychologically, our attempts to gain significance put us on a higher pedestal and others around us on a lower one. This gives a boost to our ego. The ego feels great in defeating people. Whereas when you drop the significance, you reach the other person’s level and are included by default. Significance is trying to be important or standing out from the rest. People are selling their happy stories all the time, they have become salesmen. Our naturalness is almost lost as people are more interested in showing us how happy they are by posting pictures on social media than in actually being happy. This has made us dependent on how many “likes” we receive for a social media post.
When the race to earn money and respect is over, we genuinely pursue what we, in our consciousness, want to do. When you think of making others win, contributing to the larger game, and accept their weaknesses, you surpass the ego and reach the natural state of consciousness.
You feel uncomfortable even amongst your own people because the ego has many expectations and gets hurt easily. With your own people the baggage that you carry is almost constant and much more than it is with strangers. But when you become aware and there is attention in the present, egoistic thoughts cease to make an impact. When you are able to practice this for some time, you will stop deriving pleasure from other people’s losses. Once your expectations drop, you naturally feel happy with people and the relationship then can be enjoyed at a much different level.
Our world reflects what we are
Once a dog ran into a museum where all the walls, the ceiling, the door and even the floor were made of mirrors. Seeing this, the dog froze in surprise in the middle of the hall, a whole pack of dogs surrounding it on all sides from above and below. The dog bared his teeth and all the reflections responded to it in the same way. Frightened, the dog frantically barked. The reflections imitated the bark and resounded many times. The dog barked even harder and the echo kept building. The dog tossed from one side to another, biting the air, his reflections also tossed around snapping their teeth. Next morning, the museum security guards found the miserable dog, lifeless and surrounded by equally lifeless million reflections. There was nobody who would have harmed the dog. Everything that is happening around us is the reflection of our own thoughts, feelings and karma. The negativity that stands between you and the right path is solely yours and not theirs.
When you have attention, you have energy and the thoughts lose control. So disruptive thoughts don’t operate anymore and right action takes place. Anything you do with an agenda or a planned outcome leads to pain as agendas and outcomes lie in the future and bliss in the present. All outcome-oriented actions are actually reactions to thoughts of tomorrow. The present is the place and when you act from it, it is appropriate and not in duality. Otherwise the mind keeps thinking “was what I did right or not” as the mind struggles with the past and the future. Right action is not possible when you are suffering because of uncertainty, unhappiness, insecurity, greed, envy, competitiveness and violence. Right actions are possible when the suffering stops.
How to be a good observer
When in public, observe your need to prove something, when with friends see the comparisons you make, when with parents see how you try to fix situations so that it doesn’t reflect badly on you, when scared see how the ego justifies your acts, see how you wonder whether or not people are looking at you, always seeking attention, see your thoughts about others, about yourself, about life. See how the ego keeps judging you internally, your actions, decisions and behaviour. People kill animals and then pray, “Thank you for feeding us.” It’s their ego that protects them from going into guilt mode. The ego always wants to be morally upright instead of correcting its own actions. It does not correct them because it is made through attachments. So it cannot correct itself by default. It is attached to what it feels is right for it, irrespective of the results it is getting.
You need a sharp mind to observe things but it is blunt because it is always running and we have not given it any rest. Once you will have the sharpness of the mind, you will be able to observe the movements of your thoughts.
Observe every bit of you. Just watch the way you walk, talk, smile, laugh, cry, behave, the words you use, the decisions you make, the food you eat, alcohol you consume, the cigarettes you smoke, your relationship, your image in your own eyes, the way people see you, your attempts at defining yourself through success and the clothes you wear. Just be present totally to yourself, your intentions, your conditioning, the way you think, the things you like, dislike, your judgments about others, about yourself, the way you perceive things, the way you assume things, and everything that is you and related to you. The moment you become present towards all this, without getting caught in opinions and judgments, a transformation will take place. The intensity with which you observe will determine the speed at which the transformation will happen. What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. And when you lose that, you have lost everything.
Adapted with permission from Freedom from the I by Shashank Kasliwal, published by Jaico Books
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