Friday, 30 July 2010

Pain and Desire

The way I've walked home has gradually changed over the past 6 months. When I first arrived in New York, in the midst of the cold winter, from the moment I left the subway I wanted to be home. I live near 86th street subway, and I have to walk 5 blocks north to 91st street and 4 blocks east to York Avenue. During my first few months here, whilst on my walk home, I always had a desired goal in mind: to be home. It caused me to walk hurriedly towards my destination, in the event of a bad mood, I'd find myself resisting the inevitable journey. The journey seemed a painful experience, it felt long and seemed an obstacle to be overcome.

Gradually that has fallen away. Now when I leave the subway, I no longer have a desire to be home. The journey is no longer an obstacle. I simply walk because walking home is the apparent course of action, it's a habitual action. As I'm walking I'm just conscious of walking, no goals or desires, I'm just feeling the energy of whichever moment of my journey I'm in. I feel one leg lift, and set down upon the ground. Then the other leg... My journey home is meditation. It feels timeless, instant. Then when I arrive home, it's almost a pleasant surprise. I was not conscious of a long journey. Sometimes now I do not even go home, I may dawdle in a shop, or go to the park and lie down upon the grass.

The journey is no longer a chore. The process is the same, I walk the same route everyday, but there is simply no desire to be home. I walk home, just because. I feel neutral about the journey, sometimes its really rather pleasant, other times less so, either way - I don't care.

Its a nice metaphor for how desire causes unnecessary suffering. I've never really intuitively believed in the idea that we have "a life purpose" that can be reduced down to a concept, let alone a career or set of activities. Eckhart Tolle says "our primary purpose is to be here, now". Is that true? I don't know, but I feel somehow that resonates with me. In what areas of your life do you fruitlessly desire for things to be other than they are?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What is the ego?

“We exclude the Subject of Cognizance [knowing subject] from the domain of nature that we endeavour to understand. We step with our own person back into the part of an onlooker who does not belong to the world, which by this very procedure becomes an objective world. [We are unaware] of the fact that a moderately satisfying picture of the world has only been reached at the high price of taking ourselves out of the picture, stepping back into the role of a non–concerned observer.”
- Erwin Schrödinger, Theoretical Physicist, Nobel Prize Winner.

The Western use of the term ego is often used to mean “an inflated sense of pride in your superiority to others”. We may refer to someone as “having a big ego”, meaning they have a disproportionately high regard for themselves. However, this is a very limited use of the term ‘ego’. It’s a highly worthwhile activity to consider the true meaning of the word.

The concept of ego relates to the perception of subject and object. It is a commonly accepted premise that the world consists of objects (entities) which are perceived by subjects (observers). Most languages accept the subject-object premise as a predicate. For example we may say:

· I [subject] gave him [object] the book.

I define the deeper meaning of the word “ego” as: The perception of a distinction between subject and object. From this structure of language arises all concept of division and separateness: us and them, myself and other, me and what happened to me, myself and my environment.

By this rationale, to judge another as having a big ego, is as equally egoic to being the one who to whom the quality of having a big ego is ascribed! Judge not lest ye be judged!