How many of us get lost in thoughts such as:
“I want to people to like me.”
“I want to fit into those jeans.”
“I want a bigger house, a nicer car, private school for my kids…”
…on and on this loop of desire spins until we have created a whole other reality.
Then next thing you know you snap back to reality, and everything in your life seems dull. You can no longer find the sparkle in common day activities. A hole of emptiness suddenly appears, and it’s voracious appetite leaves you caught in a constant cycle of desire.
This is because your Ego isn’t whole. In fact it can never become whole. Its very essence is tied to finding its identity within labels (we’ll break this down later). So to plug this massive hole, Ego attaches itself to an inner maze of labels that define it in hope that you’ll never find your way to the truth.
As we explore the lessons found within Chapter 2 of Tolle’s “A New Earth” in our Summer Soul Series, we’ll look at how (but first, why) to break our obsession with our physical possessions.
Imagine looking within a kaleidoscope. You see so many fractures of light, glaring colors, and unidentifiable shapes that you don’t know where it starts nor ends. As you turn your head, the image changes. The only clear truth you know is that it’s all connected.
The Ego hopes to imprison you within a kaleidoscope of labels. To be so thoroughly entrenched in what you believe you to see, that the truth is lost. Tolle explains that the perception of reality is only the tip of the iceberg. It is what Einstein refers to as the optical illusion of self. We base ourselves in this illusion and fail to see everything beneath the surface.
This is the beginning of our downfall because we associate ourselves with the things that we own to define where we fit in society. We become our jobs, our obligations, our objects, and in doing this we lose who we are. Remember, that the ego needs something to cling to in order to thrive.
When we can say I, Me, or My in regards to an item, somehow we identify our own being with that item – it makes us feel more of a person. But does it? The Ego tricks you into thinking that buying that product, house, or putting into that image enhances who you are.
This usually leads to suffering because the Ego wants to want more than it wants to have. So once we have all the items, we do not feel any better about ourselves. The contrary happens, our wanting grows greater.
Tolle gives a great example in which he explains those who define them selves by the expensive things they buy. Think about a woman who defines her essence by the clothes she wears. She craves expensive products because to her it equates to exclusivity, and bolsters her image as a fashionista. She has given her Ego a label to define itself by. However, if everyone could buy that expensive item, then it loses its physiological value for her, and the ego would just search for something else.
In truth, she, and you, are already EVERYTHING you need to be without any external factors. In reality, it is this separation and identification that causes the imbalance within the world. Hitler gave himself and the people around him a bigger cause with which to identify. Their Egos became so ingrained with that identity that genocide was able to happen and their label wrote off their guilt.
In order to transcend, and reach enlightened awareness, we must separate our identification with ‘things’, and learn to break these unconscious habits. But, how?
Having less stuff doesn’t automatically mean that you lose Ego.
For example, minimalism is all the latest rage now. Minimalism is where you choose to only buy the things that bring joy to your life. This is a great way to see the objects you possess. It teaches you to be in control of your Ego’s urges to run away from the awareness that you are.
However, don’t fall into the trap of identifying with minimalism to the point that now it becomes a part of you. Ego still hopes to separate you from others, and will make you believe that you are more spiritually aware than others because you own less, a form of spiritual one-upmanship where ego takes our spiritual practice and uses it against us.
There is nothing wrong with owning things. Recognizing beauty within items that others having painstakingly created is another way to let your inner world shine through. You are acknowledging the creative source that is found within us all.
Nevertheless when most people find themselves on their deathbed, they realize that the corporeal items aren’t what they’ll miss. It’s the experiences, the camaraderie, and the intimacy that they have experienced with another being that brings the final smile.
Don’t let your objects and desires define you. Love what you love, dislike what you dislike, but ultimately realize that you are more than the desires your Ego craves.
Our Ego thrives on our inability to distinguish reality from its carefully cultivated array of labels. Most people can’t even tell the difference until a tragic situation occurs. Sometimes, even that can’t make them aware.
So when you feel the tendrils of Ego start to move, activate your awareness by searching within yourself for spirit, and give it free reign. Your Ego is terrified of awareness because when you are truly aware, you can find contentment which starves the Ego.
To activate your awareness, Tolle recommends an inner journey. Find a quiet spot to take a comfortable seat, close your eyes and focus on your hands. Imagine the warm feeling of awareness to fill up your hands, seeking every nook and cranny of it.
Don’t let Ego fool you! Your awareness is infinite.
So once you’ve mastered that, then move onto your feet. While remaining aware of your hands, will your spirit to bring that same awareness to ever inch of them. Feel the bones, the muscles, the nails, the aches, and pains until your feet are completely filled by the infinite space within.
Continue on until every part of your body is filled with awareness, and just sit in it. Don’t force or expect anything of it. Just be. Do this once a day for a month. Your awareness of self will elevate to the point where your thoughts no longer control your actions.
You’ll, not only, free yourself from the maze of desire, but gain control of it too. With practice and commitment, you’ll realize the peace that Tolle refers to as resting in God. It is the understanding that true peace and stillness doesn’t come from the outside, but from within.
Become aware of the voice in your head that wants you to identify with things or with titles that may be a sign of ego. This allows you to demolish the construct of I, Me, and My. Feel the no-thing. Relish in the release of this attachment.
By doing this, we will chip away at that darn Ego that wants to rule all of us.
Are you attached to things? Does it make you a better person to own them? How can you be aware of your attachment to possessions in your everyday life?
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