Do you keep hearing things like these :
‘Why can’t my relatives get over petty issues and do something to improve their lot?’
‘Why can’t my teachers understand that time has passed since they were young? Things are different now!’
‘People are so dirty here! They throw garbage everywhere. How much effort does it take to go to the garbage dump? Won’t it be in their own benefit? Can’t they use their brains?!!’
You got it! It’s someone speaking about what he/she dislikes in others. And it may not be just people, you may hear something like ‘I hate this traffic jam!’.
There is so much satisfaction we derive out of talking about what we dislike in others. It’s almost like a sweat-itch. When you don’t like the way others are, you can’t resist the temptation to talk trash about them! And like that itch, it does not help at all if you give in to this temptation. That only aggravates the problem. You go on talking about it, drawing a sort of a satisfaction by feeling superior, solving nothing. I have been doing it too, although, I think I catch myself more often now.
The nature of Ego. Eckhart Tolle explains this best. When we are constantly, compulsively talking in our minds, we see nothing else. We get used to thinking all the while. In time, we forget that we can be otherwise, without thinking. Thinking becomes our second nature, we start identifying ourselves with our thought process. We mistake our thoughts, our mind with our sense of self. This false sense of self, based on continuous thinking, is our ego. The ego does not like it when you focus on the present moment. When you are totally present in the moment, you will not be thinking, you will be observing and doing, you will become totally aware. That threatens the ego’s existence. It would do all it can to make you think, make you hate what is now. It will make you think of the past, or think about the future, but it will not want you to bring your focus into this, present moment.
When you can’t control your compulsive thinking, your ego becomes stronger. Over a period, you stop noticing it. It has taken over. Just like an alcoholic, you have the false feeling of being in control, but you are, in fact, under the control of your own ego, your addiction to thinking.
Once your ego has taken over, it starts working diligently to secure it’s existence. It tells you that this moment, and everything in it is bad. The people here are unfriendly, foolish and dangerous. The situations(like traffic jams) are bad and dangerous.
You start seeing yourself as a separate entity. It’s ‘you’ against ‘them’. This ‘you’, your ego, is always the better one, the innocent one. The others, who form this present moment, are bad. The ego needs conflict to survive. It needs something to fight against, something to declare itself morally superior to. It strengthens the idea of an unfriendly Universe. Everyone and everything is bad and dangerous, the whole world seems to be against you(even the traffic jam!).
Disassociate with the ego. Accept the present.
This ego is not you. Your constant thinking, and the sense of self it creates, is not you. You are what you feel when your thinking subsides. For those who are heavily addicted to thinking, which includes most of us, this happens rarely. We rarely have a moment when there is no thought in our mind, when we are intensely aware of the present moment and what’s going on in it. Most of us get a glimpse of this when we are in a dangerous situation. Have you been in front of an angry, unchained dog? Have you ever felt your life threatened? All thinking subsides. The present moment is so intense, it demands and gets all the attention. The ego flees the scene. You don’t have to think, right action follows automatically. You experience a moment of intense clarity. You are totally, intensely present. Even fear will not be there, it will come later, when the moment is past and that coward, ego, is back in your mind. You later reminisce and think, ‘Oh! I could have died!!’ All the crying and howling will ensue only then. But while you are still in that moment, you experience total awareness, you experience your true self, you experience, what some might call, God. Maybe you can understand why some people seek thrills – it hooks their mind off for a while!
People accomplish superhuman feats in moments of danger, they do things they cannot imagine doing normally. This was even mentioned in a management course I did. It mentioned a woman, who saw a tractor about to crush her kids. She lifted one side of the tractor and toppled it. How does this happen? How can you explain this?
Some might say it will be good to think and act at such moments. Well, in martial arts they say, ‘You don’t rise to any heroic levels in a bad situation, you fall to the level of your practice.’ Whatever has been your regular practice and experience, will naturally follow.
This occurrence of you being in the present moment, is your true self. It is when you are your true self that you can accomplish what otherwise might seem like a miracle. Imagine being this way all the time. Imagine being totally present, unpurturbed. Imagine being friends with all that is in this present moment. The amount of peace, clarity, happiness, productivity this brings into your life is indescribable.
Probably now you understand why the ancient sages spent so much time in meditation. May be the stories of them accomplishing astonishing feats are not totally baseless!
How do you change what you don’t like?
Accept what is, only then can you bring about change. The life you want to create is all in your hands. But before you change things, you have to accept and acknowledge their existence. Don’t be at war with what is, that saps useful energy to no good effect. Stop fighting, just accept this moment and all that is there in it. Soon you will start seeing ways to gently nudge it towards the direction you want.
Don’t just sit around stating what is wrong. Stating a problem, over and over again, only satisfies the ego. It’s true that you have to accept what is wrong and be aware of it. But you don’t have to discuss and re-discuss it, again and again. Discussing and philosophizing doesn’t make anything better. To make things better, get into action, now! In this moment!!
Ain’t that all obvious! Why can’t you people think of it yourself?!! 😉