Saturday, April 26, 2008

The demise of the ego

During the past week, being back at work full time (which for me means four days a week) I have become at times, almost painfully aware of just how over active my mind is. By this I mean that there seems to be this endless chatter going on in the background, in the periphery of my vision, which manifests itself as a vague feeling of dissatisfaction and unease. This seems to be borne from the fact that I do not like the life I have chosen, or more accurately, that my ego does not like the life that I have chosen.

The ego though is an illusion and not who I am, it is merely the inner manifestation of all my deepest fears and loathings, about not just life, but ultimately who and what I am. It is the part of me that wishes to deny my own divinity, for to accept this will mean that I am powerful beyond measure and have no need for the pettiness that the ego becomes embroiled in. This, like the various products that we sell at work, is merely a distraction designed to detract away from the fact that I am not just unique, but also divine - for God does not rest outside of us as some obscure and judgmental man, or even woman, but lives in the heart of every single one of us. The ego uses every means at its disposal in order to deny this very important fact, and will go to almost any lengths, including killing us slowly inside, through insanity or other means (Eckhart Tolle says that the over active mind is the greatest form of insanity) in order to get us to hide from the truth.

The expensive items we sell at work are not in the scheme of life important, but are things and trappings that we surround ourselves with in order to stay trapped on the perpetual treadmill called work. We are told that we must have these things, so we go out to work in order to buy them, getting into so much debt that we have to continually work harder, and thus have no time to be still and stop thinking. I see through the trap though and choose not to have these things in my possession. I still though have to sell them at work, and this is where the challenge lies.

It occurs to me that the reason I have chosen this particular job is because of the unique challenges that it brings - in other words to be in the illusion but not be part of it. This means that I can observe from a detached perspective all the goings on and all the ego talk of my colleagues and customers - two of my colleagues in particular act like overgrown school boys, practically drooling over video games and the latest technology as if they were some prize to be cherished, and talking about beer and women in much the same vein.

Some women would be mortally offended at this talk, but not me, I just grin silently to myself and observe the silliness and almost obsessiveness of the whole thing. And yet at the same time, I have been amazed this week at just how similar in some ways we are. I was having a conversation the other day with one of my male colleagues, as I helped with the delivery, about women who moan about there not being any good men and how they can't maintain a relationship and how lonely they feel, and in the next breath say how they value their independence and don't want to get tied down. There is a great paradox here that the majority of these women seem unaware of. No wonder men are so confused as to what women want - how can they know after all how to treat us if we do not know ourselves how we wish to be treated.

How though do I wish to be treated - as a human being with feelings and emotions, and with the knowledge that I am not infallible and need love and nurturing as much as the next person. I also perhaps more fundamentally, wish to be treated in the same way that others would wish to be treated - with courtesy, honesty, integrity and respect.

These are all qualities which the modern world seems to be lacking in - but qualities that I saw today in abundance. Today I was blessed to have a stall at the annual Brigitte Trust complimentary therapy day.
The weather blessed both us, and the couple who got married in that same church this afternoon at 2pm. Some 200 people came through the doors between 10.30 and 5pm, as I manned the stall on behalf of Waterstones in Epsom. This was a mutual arrangement between Sally, the organiser, Nick the manager of Waterstones, and myself, which the universe perfectly orchestrated. It meant that the Trust got someone to look after the stall for them, as did Waterstones, and I had some free space in which to sell my own books.

I took a total of around £88 which was not a great deal, and sold one pack of my own cards - quotes from my book for £3, so financially the day was a disaster. This is not though what the day was about, and the fact that I can write this at all, means that I have come a long, long way in the last three weeks.

It would have been nice to have sold at least one book - and the ego does its best to chatter away still about the unfairness of it all, and how others did so much better than I did, and how technically I lost money through spending on cups of tea and lunch etc, but then I remind it that actually it was Coran's turn for lunch, and as for tea, well I would have gone for walk to the nearby National Trust centre if I had not been at the fair, and so still would have bought tea and cake there anywhere!

I am then beginning to realise that complaining is a fast track to continued deep unhappiness and despair. It is borne from the need to be right and make someone else wrong - and therefore make us feel superior at the expense of others, for complaining about what we perceive as injustice, in any form - within the publishing industry, at work, or the fact that our neighbour can afford that new car that we can't, implies that this thing whatever it is, should not be happening, that it is not morally right. This implies judgment, of both others and ourselves and places us at the moral high ground as the wounded or injured party, but also on a self imposed pedestal. It it this sense of superiority that the ego feeds off and craves, as it is this that maintains it within the illusion, keeping us in the illusion.

So next time someone asks me who I am, I will remember a phrase uttered by Dr Stephen Franklin, the Doctor in Babylon 5, when he awoke from life saving surgery after being stabbed - "I am alive, everything else is negotiable."