As if our egos didn’t cause us enough problems, it turns out, it is the ego that makes love hurt. If it weren’t for our egos, we could love without grasping. If we loved somebody, we could, with confidence, expect them to love us too. Without our egos, we wouldn’t see any reason a person shouldn’t love us. Without our egos, we would likely love everybody. We would not have to choose who deserves our limited love, because our love would be unlimited. People’s quirks would not threaten our egos and so we would love quirky people just as much as people like us. That kind of love would be free of pain. What we usually get though, is painful, ego love.
Since we all have egos, we feel like our love is limited and we pick carefully who we will share our love with. We maintain a tightly guarded inner circle, which we want to invite a certain, specific somebody to join. Once we have chosen somebody to love, the pain begins. It is often pleasurable pain, but deep pain nonetheless. Pain comes in confirming the love. Unfortunately, when we first fall in love, we are functionally insane, so our powers of objective confirmation are weak. For example, we may confirm our love by waiting for a phone call or a text. We will time how long it takes for a text response. Anything more than a few seconds, we start second guessing the love. That is painful. That is a game of the ego. It has nothing to do with love.
The final blow of the ego is the heartache when love “ends”. During the relationship, the ego begins to define itself in terms of the other person and love. When the relationship is over, the ego sees that it was defined by a false promise and it goes through the painful process of reinventing itself.
These are a few ways that the ego turns love into pain. Love itself is not painful. Grasping and making demands of love is what hurts. Most love between people is a meeting of egos. We can expect pain.
Love without ego is comfortable, and eternal in any given moment.
Meditation is meant to be boring. You sit and use your attention like a drill to bore into the mystery of existence. Because our attention is so used to jumping from one thing from another, as we settle into meditation our drill bit is dull. When our drill bit is dull, meditation becomes dull, so instead of boring, we are bored.
Boredom is part of meditation. That’s why there are so many instructions to help you stay seated. You can watch your breath. You can watch your posture. You can count your breaths. You can focus your attention on your forehead. You can focus your attention below your navel. You can breathe deeply or you can breathe normally. You can focus on a koan, a question like, “what is awareness?” or “what is mind?” or “what is this?” or “what am I?”. If you arouse your curiosity you will not be bored. If you focus your attention you will not be bored. When your attention becomes sharp you go from dull boring to drill boring.
As you sit and bore into your mind, there is a certain excitement in knowing that you are likely to strike oil at any time. At any moment your mind could explode into the universe. If you think that though, you are losing focus and should return to a more boring boring.
Any and all emotions can come to you when you sit meditation. Boredom is one. When you feel bored, try to figure out what is bored, check your posture, check your breath, and bore on.
Ego is a difficult entity to befriend, because Ego is hard to identify and it causes you problems. Ego aligns itself with your personality, and will project itself differently in different situations. Ego will be one thing with your friends, another thing with your parents and still another when you are alone. Ego will try to keep you off balance by building you up one moment and knocking you down the next. Ego wants both to be seen and to hide away. Anyway you turn, you run into Ego. Because it is everywhere, it is hard to see. Because it causes you so much trouble, it is hard to befriend.
Ego causes you trouble by being the root of all of your problems. Ego is the one that screams, why me?, whenever anything bad happens. Ego doesn’t bring on your problems as much as turn the events of your life into problems by personalizing them. Ego will also cause problems by convincing you of the need to lie or cheat or belittle others, but most of Ego’s work is causing you to worry about anything related to you.
The reason to befriend Ego, rather than get rid of Ego, is because getting rid of Ego is not something you do. Ego must leave of its own accord. It won’t leave until you befriend it. To befriend Ego, you must be alert for Ego and learn its tricks. Look for Ego in your pride and shame. Notice it when you feel really impressed with yourself or really down on yourself. That is Ego. Although you are impressive, you are not impressive because of what you do. You are impressive because you are.
When you get used to watching Ego, it becomes amusing. Then, Ego is your friend. Ego will never really leave, it will just lose its influence.
What we observe, we change. As we participate in this tumblr world, we blog, reblog, like and comment. We watch and are watched. By observing each other, we change each other. With all our posts of love, freedom, pain, and angst we share ourselves. When we observe, without judgement, with kindness and compassion, we ease ourselves and one another toward harmony.
It is a wonderful thing to be in control. When you are in control, you can pick what you do and when you do it. You can go left or right. The world is yours. You control your destiny…unless there really is destiny. If there really is destiny, then you are not in control. It may seem that you have chosen to go left or right, but in fact it was your destiny to go left.
Many times we are not in control of our emotions. It may take all of our effort to keep from screaming and crying. When we manage that, it gives us a sense of control. The churning emotions, that make us want to cry out, are running wild. When that happens we feel out of control. We don’t feel out of control like we are just floating on the currents of destiny, we feel out of control like we’re going to lose it. That can be scary.
When it comes to love, control is tricky too. We don’t decide to be in love. We fall in love. We exercise control by pretending we’re not in love, and restraining ourselves from devouring our lover. Love is one of those feelings where we love to lose control and ride the rapids, the stronger the better. In those moments, we believe in destiny and we go with it.
Being in control is overrated. Control could be anything from our ability to resist destiny, to the appearance of mastery over a smooth stretch of sea. It’s nice to think we’re driving, but we could just as well be in the back, in our car seat, with our little plastic steering wheel.
Mindfulness is not paying attention to every little detail of your life and thinking it is all wonderful. Mindfulness is just paying attention to your life. Thinking things are wonderful is extra. Sometimes things are boring. Things only become wonderful when you wonder about them.
So you’ve experienced enlightenment. Now what? Life can become kind of tedious after experiencing the great mystery of the universe. You can always recall the welcoming expansion of space and time, the merging of life and death, your feeling of occupied emptiness and connection to everything else. There is much comfort in knowing for certain that you are falling with no ground. Once you have been swaddled in existence’s fabric of love and eternity, how do you find the energy to make small talk in the hallway?
Forget enlightenment. Why become attached to the dazzle in the mist? Go about your day. Eat breakfast. Stub your toe. Sit meditation. Imagine that you are really suffering, and wallow in self pity. Immerse yourself in your illusions so that someday you may be surprised and delighted when, again, you attain enlightenment.
Ego: You think you can use your meditation to get rid of me, but I figured out how to use your Zen to make your sorry, meditating ass attractive.
– What do you mean?
Ego: When you meet somebody you like, I’ll use your Zen.
– How will you do that?
Ego: I’ll dazzle them with Zen lines like, the past and future don’t exist, the present moment is the only reality, because you are here, now, you are my only reality. Or, I say, I must have been good in a past life, because my karma brought brought me to you. Or else, when I look into your eyes, I feel like the universe beholding its beauty.
– It’s not really Zen, the way you say it.
Ego: I could say, in this illusion of duality, you are truly the one.
– That’s a little much.
Ego: You’re my eightfold path. Only you can end my suffering.
Ego: What about, I feel empty without your form?
– You think your funny don’t you?
Ego: Kind of.
– That’s not love.
Ego: What do you want from me? I’m Ego.
Once, when I was younger,
I was sitting with my younger wife.
She was my girlfriend at the time.
We were in a younger love.
We were intensely interested in our younger selves.
We talked over beers about immortality.
What would you do, she asked youthfully, if you could live forever?
I answered, all full of me, beer and youth love,
The first thing I would do is become enlightened.
I would end my suffering, then live happily forever after.
Now, looking back, its hard to believe,
That young, in-love me, thought I was suffering.