The 11 Commandments Of The New-Age-Ego

unnamed

The ego, as you know, is clever, very clever. It can utilize everything for its own protection and perpetuation – including spirituality. With the very tools created for its dissolution, it can etch out a new version of itself. And since the old big-bad-ego has got more bad press than Kim Jong-un, it has been reinventing itself across the world in a new avatar: the new-age-ego. Since it is even more deceptive in this crystal-addicted, incense-sniffing guise, GD and me had a sit down to identify this new-age-ego in all its new-age glory. At the end of our hilarious session, we identified its eleven most important commandments, which are active below the surface at all times.

  1. THOU SHALT NOT REST
    Speed is one of the most under-appreciated tricks of the new-age-ego. Busyness, anxiety, rushing are all hallmarks of a superlative ego at work. Of course, the new-age-ego chases new-age goals, which are indisputably noble. Between perfecting your downward dog and saving gay humpback whales, the ego ensures you don’t keep any time for yourself.
    Even when you are on the potty, the ego won’t let you rest – it will insist you reply to at least three emails, read two pages of Eckhart Tolle and retweet Rumi on Twitter. After all, you have to ‘live up to your full potential’.
    *
  2. THOU SHALT ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE TO STAND AGAINST
    Without an opposition, any good ego would just wither away, so it needs to maintain the perception of an enemy. Whether it’s the corporations or the cults, whether it’s old feudal religions or new two-minute-noodle sects, the ego must have opposition. What’s the point of all your spiritual learning, the ego whispers, if you can’t even use it to prove how unevolved, lost and clueless the others are! To create a powerful ‘I’, one must create a powerful ‘you’.
    Tip: To create an ultra-strong-industrial-strength-ego, judge the entire planet and everybody that lives on it.
    *
  3. THOU SHALT ‘SPIRITUALIZE’ YOUR WORLDLY DESIRES
    Let’s make this simple. Working hard for months to earn money for a Ferrari is bad, but visualising and manifesting a Ferrari is good… and spiritual. Instead of revealing your desperation to impress chicks, let the Ferrari be proof of how open and receptive you are to abundance.
    Wise ancient teachers intoned that ‘greed’ is the cause of suffering, so no problem: simply chase ‘abundance’ instead! Say “I am not greedy, hungry, desperate and insecure – I just want abundance!” That way, you can be completely entangled in the Maya while still maintaining the glow of transcendence in your Facebook posts.
    *
  4. THOU SHALT GLORIFY THY MUNDANE EXISTENCE
    Thou shalt give spiritual meaning and interdimensional interpretation to everything. Name your kid after an unheard of Sufi Mystic. Name your dog after an unpronouncable Zen Master. See mysterious synchronicities in Facebook posts. And mistake truck headlights for landing Plaeidian spacecraft!
    If you have a toothache, it is because of an X-class solar flare in Sunspot AR2291. And if you fart like a bulldog, you are merely purging your root chakra!
    Bottomline: To create a spectacular, topped-to-the-brim ego, make sure there is nothing simple or ordinary about your life.
    *
  5. THOU SHALT NOT BE RESPONSIBLE
    Misapply the principle of non-doership to suit your needs. Take credit for everything that’s going well, and blame the universe/karma/life lesson for the rest. Bottomline: if you make a pile of money, attribute it to your high vibrations and connections with the ascended masters. But if you go bankrupt, call it the ‘dark night of the soul’ and throw an about-to-be-enlightened party.
    *
  6. THOU SHALT SEEK BUT NEVER FIND
    Keep up the appearance of spiritual seeking, the ego advises, but remember to always remain in the state of ‘I’m-almost-there’. Become a workshop junkie or a guru shopper but remember what you seek should always remain ‘just-around-the-corner’. If you are the armchair seeker variety, scrounge hungrily on Amazon or YouTube to purchase even more books you will never read and mark new videos you will never see.
    Bottomline: Scatter all your energies on the internet, follow dozens of teachers simultaneously, pontificate on chat groups, go to bed every night confused, overwhelmed and exhausted. Become so addicted to seeking that there is no space for finding.
    *
  7. THOU SHALT BE OBSESSED WITH THE BODY
    Keep asserting that you are an ‘infinite being beyond time and space’, while keeping a hawk-eye on every pimple, wrinkle and milligram of flesh on your waistline. Use all your spiritual tools to look younger, fitter and manifest a neon halo. Perfect your soul beads, your esoteric body processes, and your macro-vegan-lactose-intolerant-glutenfree diet.
    Tip: Being obsessed with the body is the best way to maintain a rock solid six-pack ego!
    *
  8. THOU SHALT CONSTANTLY BE LOOKING FOR A PERFECT PARTNER
    Your purpose in life is to find the One who will fulfill you, complete you and make you eternally happy. No, no, what made you think we’re talking about God? We are talking about your soul mate!
    So thou shalt be constantly looking for the perfect partner… even if you just got engaged last week! In case you don’t have any luck, switch to Plan B: Thou shalt constantly try to perfect your existing partner.
    Tip: Being obsessed with the ‘other’ is like Viagra for the new-age-ego.
    *
  9. THOU SHALT OBSESSIVELY PROTECT YOURSELF
    It very important that you feel increasingly vulnerable and sensitive as proof of your enormous evolution. So you must need more and more protection from entities, black magic, negative energy… and especially your spouse and relatives! Gift yourself a fortress of crystals, candles, talismans and other expensive energetic protection tools. Because you’re worth it.
    *
  10. THOU SHALT FIND YOUR ‘SPECIALNESS’
    What’s the point of being spiritual if it does not even make you feel special and unique! So find a guru who makes you feel uber unique… or find disciples who make you feel super special. Or find a complicated spiritual system with obscure terminology and infinite levels which only a chosen few understand – that too after they pay $1,11,111 (local taxes extra).
    Tip: it is not important that you understand the path or process, as long as it is expensive and the salesperson is impressive!
    *
  11. THOU SHALT NEVER EVER ASK THE ONE QUESTION
    This is the final and the most important commandment of the new-age-ego. Don’t ever ask the question ‘Who Am I?’
    Never, ever question – who is the one chasing desire, who is the one seeking the soul mate or who is still miserable after so many years of spiritual searching.
    You are allowed to travel to Machu Picchu, eat Spirulina till you turn green and spend a lifetime chanting Sanskrit verses, but stay away from stillness at all cost.
    Stay obsessed with past lives or future prophecies, just don’t come to this moment.
    And don’t ever, ever relax, pause and become silent. Because that is the one thing even the new-age-ego can’t survive.
    *

    Hungry for more spiritually irreverent humor? 
    Check out 'The Foolproof Guide To Becoming A Guru'

    *

Been There, Done That, Know-It-All

Spiritual Ego

There is, they say, no fool like an old fool. And there is no ego like a hardened old seeker ego. Encrusted within a prickly sense of having read the words, done the practice and glimpsed ‘the peace that passeth understanding’, the old seeker has absorbed it into a new-and-improved spiritual ego. Like a virus that becomes antidote-resistant with small doses of medicine, the spiritual ego becomes more sophisticated and subtle with ‘spiritual’ insights, knowledge and experiences.

On the surface the words are right – ‘love’, ‘light’, ‘oneness’ etc – the clothes are flowing and the lifestyle says there is a sincere seeker of Truth here. But inside a subtle arrogance has quietly crept in: a shrewd way of dismissing words of a teacher.

There are two ways to do this: one way is by proving the teacher wrong or inadequate and the other is by putting him on a pedestal – in either case, by making his words not applicable to one’s real, daily life. Maybe it’s a clever ‘You don’t really understand my life…’ or ‘What you say is true but not practical’ or even a ‘Yes, I read that in a book’. Do you see how deftly the mind can sweep a real insight under the carpet so hearing the Truth doesn’t upset one’s carefully manicured spiritual life anymore?

“That is the only path the ego-mind knows,” my mentor GD said to me on this subject. “It judges and discards everybody and everything, becoming more and more depressed and isolated. The ego-mind cannot know love or oneness.”

What was shocking was that this ‘ego-mind’ which GD was kindly referring to in third person was what I lived identified with ALL THE TIME. It was, for most part, what I called ‘me’. I felt shaken by his words but also felt softer, like something hard had been broken open. Like a truer ‘me’ had emerged, blinking, into the light.

“The more you ‘know’,” GD continued, “the deader you become. The more you ‘know’ about love, the less you will be able to experience it. Once we know that this particular flower is called a ‘rose’, we no longer bother to see it. The mystery is lost. Every word, every label, deadens us to the mystery that life is.

“Knowing spiritual concepts like ‘freedom’ and ‘oneness’ often make us dead to the actuality of it. Spirituality is a pure ‘I-don’t-know’ space. It is a wide-awake-openness. And it requires no knowledge or point of view.”

Never before in history have spiritual answers been so easily available to feed the ego-mind’s quest to protect itself by accumulating information and processes. It is easy to forget that the way to Truth/Love/Bliss has always been through this ‘wide-awake-openness’ and silence. And especially for those who have read much, heard much and known much, it is critical to pause once in a while and ask whether the words are windows or just new bricks in the walls of our prison?

Image used under creative commons via Alice Popkorn

The Gift Of You

The Gift Of You

Social interactions have always left me uncentred and contracted. The expansiveness I feel when I am alone is rarely how a conversation feels for me. In the past, I have rejected all conversation with Mikhail Naimy’s dismissive summation: speech is at best an honest lie, while silence is at worst a naked verity. These days, though, I am beginning to glimpse something else. Maybe the fault is not in the meetings, but in who we are being when we meet others.

We hold back our gifts for fear they may be rejected. We show up as approximations of what (we believe) others would like to see us. We dress how we are supposed to – maybe a touch of red, to show we are rebels. And we meet others as half-hearted ghosts of ourselves. With cheerful robotic sentences and fake polite enquiries, we try to become like them, and they like us. We don’t relax too deeply into ourselves when we are around them, because we may mistakenly say something authentic. We may touch upon something deep and real and shake them into thinking about their half-hearted ghost lives too. And they may hate us for it.

So, I find, I stay on the edge when I am with others. Calling anxiety as excitement, and the trembling within me as aliveness. And I hold back my gifts from them; and they from me. We both cover it up with chatter and information and complaints and plans. We try not to see in each other’s eyes the silent connection that is deeper than words. And we don’t answer the question those eyes ask of us.

These days, I am beginning to wonder: is it possible that the way we connect with another is a microcosm of how we connect with life itself?

We cling to fear as responsible and right. We hold ourselves tight lest we fly away. We turn away from seeing our own magnificence. For once we see it, we would have to leave this ‘real world’ – leave the comforting grey mundanity of it all. And then we would be the mad, bad ones. The wierdos whom we have condemned. We would be mocked, judged and outcasted, or so we believe. Therefore, we must always tighten our muscles and our nerves to hold onto this reality. Because the opposite is unthinkable. A life of vastness without a centre. A life which is a gift constantly giving unto itself.

So we hold onto our ‘reality’: a body holding its tightness as tiny, triumphant proof of its separate existence. A voice that speaks in our heads in a familiar accent, which we take as proof of the uniqueness of our ideas. And the tremulous story of our life, pieced together from half-forgotten anecdotes, which we make proof of our specialness.

We surround ourselves with ‘immediate, urgent and important’ problems to avoid facing any other reality than this. We embrace this reality even as we make-believe it holds us. And complain the gift has been denied to us.

What would it take for us to see the gift that we are? And to allow that gift to be available to everyone we meet from today? What would it take for us to express the wisdom that we are – instead of choking it back?

These days, it feels like it’s time for me to show up as me. And I can’t wait to meet you.

 

Image used under creative commons via JD Hancock

The Fixer of Polarities

A few weeks ago, I had an amazing phone call with my brother where he gave me his radical take on the ego. After the call, I wrote it down so that I could remember it. Every time I read it, a sense of silence blooms within.

FIXER OF POLARITIES

All our lives, we are trying to fix our bodies, thinking or circumstances. Some people spend their time trying to fix others. Not a day, an hour, a minute goes by when we are not involved in this activity in some form.

We get a jolt when we see that the fixer within us is itself the suffering – the desire to fix is itself the suffering.

The attempt is to fix ourselves at one polarity, and eliminate the other forever. Given the nature of polarities, this can never happen! The most powerful will be powerless in some situation, and the most intelligent person will be stupid in some situation; and the depth of the valley will be exactly proportionate to the height of the mountain.

Polarities always coexist in time and space. One may be very successful in work, and be unsuccessful at home. One may be successful now, and feel unsuccessful in the next moment. In fact, all successful people continue to feel at times like failures, just at the higher level of the success game.

Happiness/Sadness, Love/Hate, Insecurity/Security, Knowledge/Stupidity, Peace/Chaos, Anger/Compassion, Success/Failure, Balanced/Lopsided Life always maintain equilibrium. When we try to strengthen one pole, the other side is simultaneously gaining power – and waiting to emerge.

We give all our power to one polarity, and think we can destroy the other if this side becomes strong enough. So when the opposite polarity emerges, it is extremely uncomfortable and painful.

The nature of the mind is to believe that salvation is always in the other polarity. The superstar at his peak dreams of times when life is simple and ordinary, but when he feels he is losing his stardom, he fights to get it back.

When all attempts to fix fail, the fixer experiences a shift in the final polarity: “I can fix my life/it’s useless” and goes into a depression because nothing works. But in time, this polarity too changes and one goes back into fixing. That is how the game continues.

The fixer is the ego.

While reality here-now is always simple, kind and perfect, the ego perpetuates itself through crisis.

Ego not only creates the crisis, it is itself the crisis! In the absence of ego, there is no crisis.

Ego is the creator, the problem solver and the satisfied one at the end of the crisis. It plays all the roles.

Ego has a brilliant mechanism: “I and the cause of suffering are separate; and I will solve suffering permanently one day.” This keeps us from seeing the ego’s real nature as the crisis-creator.

Crisis gives a false sense of importance to a useless piece of equipment: the ego.

The ego is not a bad, evil thing. It is like a beautiful, faithful dog who has gone neurotic and is now barking at butterflies, the postman, and lamp-post. It is itself exhausted and is happy to dissolve.

The whole point of Surrender is to let go of trying to fix the polarities. The whole journey of Meditation is to transcend the polarities. The whole path of Wisdom is seeing the falseness of the one experiencing polarities.

Without awakening, one is always buffeted between desire and fear. We think we make choices in life, but actually our desires and fears choose.

Exploring this sense of “I” – the one who is experiencing the polarity – is a good place to begin. Where is this I? Is there a real miniature ‘you’ inside who gets angry or scared? Or is it just a picture and a sensation? Stay with it and it will reveal its secrets to you.