Q. I write short stories and share cartoons and pictures on FaceBook, sometimes on Instagram. Publishers sometimes need writers to promote their books…so that goes on too. There are hundreds of people and comments and stuff…plus, I come across posts that provoke my mind.
I am quite aware that being without all these brings more peace, but wouldn’t that be running away from the world? I have quite understood that it’s easier if I avoid posting my own pics (I am aware it’s ego-driven most of the time).
I am more comfortable when I post stuff that emerges more from my creating mind, but that too probably leads to expectations & disappointment sometimes. How does one do things thinking himself to be a tool in the hands of the Universe? How does one know if an act is driven by ego or by a superior force?
A. Social media is designed to provoke the mind. You know all that stuff. And if your occupation requires you to be active there, then there’s no choice but to accept the situation the way it is.
I can give you tips and tricks to make things a little better, but it’s like making oneself a little comfortable in prison. The prison, by nature, is suffering. And that prison is “me.”
All prescriptions, methods, teachings are just to make the “person” feel better for some time. But till there’s “me,” involvement continues, and so does the suffering.
So when you feel the sting of a nasty comment, that’s not the problematic ego. The pain “in the moment” is not ego. The ego comes afterward as the pain translates into involvement (how dare they … I’ll teach them) in horizontal time.
Simply being aware of the involvement cut’s it off immediately. As the ego weakens with the understanding that you’re not the doer, the involvement reduces.
“I am quite aware that being without all these brings more peace, but wouldn’t that be running away from the world?”
The world is just a concept in mind. The ego, by nature, constantly strives to expand, so it comes with more images and ideas. In some cases, it shows courage by standing firm in the face of challenges, and in others, it escapes and hides.
Both of these are defense mechanisms to protect the “me.” Who is to judge what is right or wrong? Right or wrong is just an idea of the conditioned mind.
Such questions do not arise in deep sleep because there’s no “me.” When you run away from something, what bothers you is the mind that is conditioned to believe that running away is bad.
But it all depends on the circumstances. Sometimes the pressure can be so great that running away from the world may happen.
The reason why ego is painful is that it always wants to be validated for its beliefs, consciously or subconsciously.
It paints everything in the light of its understanding of the world. We indeed can’t run away from anything. Even the monks who live in caves eventually find their sangat (people with similar interests). So a temporary disconnect may happen to allow some time in reflection.
“I have quite understood that it’s easier if I avoid posting my own pics (I am aware it’s ego-driven most of the time)…I am more comfortable when I post stuff that emerges more from my creating mind, but that too probably leads to expectations & disappointment sometimes.”
So this is an excellent opportunity for self-investigation. See who creates expectations and who experiences disappointments. When you think that you’re the doer, expectations will naturally arise. Because ego, by nature, attaches to the outcome.
Examine this whole process with complete attention. Stay with the discomfort, and you’ll eventually separate thought from the feeling. Once you do that, the involvement will be cut-off. And as the understanding deepens, the involvement will begin to cut down sooner. And hence, there won’t be suffering.
The ego thrives on resistance, and it weakens on acceptance. Therefore, the pain increases when you don’t want to feel the disappointments. Accepting that you’re not in control, the ego gives up the resistance.
When you don’t offer resistance, you allow everything. Even the most uncomfortable stuff from the depths of your subconscious. It is painful temporarily.
But over time, the involvement cuts down with these thoughts and feelings. Whatever comes up to the conscious surface of the mind gets burned, and what remains is peace.
“How does one do things thinking himself to be a tool in the hands of the Universe?”
It’s not about thinking or telling yourself anything. The mind is extremely cunning. It will make you believe anything and keep you running in circles. Simply watching the mind exposes it.
Notice that the ego causes pain when you’re unaware. It quietly sneaks in when your awareness is low. For example, when you’re working on something critical and your child comes and makes a demand, there comes anger or irritation.
The ego says, “I’m angry because I was doing something important and my child disturbed me.” It likes to pin the blame on others.
The reality is that the ego is fiercely guarding the image that has been crafted over the course of years. It’s not about the child. Examine that image. Is that really you?
The idea of becoming a better writer, a better parent, or a better human being is the concept of the ego perpetuating itself.
Because then you compare. Better than who? Even comparison with oneself is suffering because there’s no end to it. The highest creativity happens when the mind is settled. When the ego realizing the futility of its doership gives up ultimately.
That’s when you’ll realize that you’ve produced your best work because it’s not “your” work. It is the universal energy or source expressing itself.
“How does one know if an act is driven by ego or by a superior force?”
All acts are of the source. The ego lives under the illusion that it is the doer. Ramana Maharishi was very clear on this. Even the slightest movement of your hair is an act of the source.
When the ego realizes it is not the doer, surrender happens. The mind-body identification continues with the sense of non-doership. Actions happen without the ego claiming ownership. And that in my concept is spiritual awakening.
For example, when your piece of writing is appreciated, and you feel pleased – that is not ego. Or when you receive criticism and feel the discomfort – even that is not the ego.
Ego comes up later to take claim. It either takes pride in success or guilt for failure. That happens only when you believe “I am the doer.”
We live in a world where the idea of individual success is strengthened and glorified. It begins in childhood, where the mind is subjugated through constant indoctrination, comparison, and punishment.
A subjugated mind is easy to manipulate. Therefore, we are taught to be a certain way. We’re indoctrinated with religious and social conditioning, which destroys our natural curiosity and creative potential.
Look at the creativity of children—the focus with which they do activities when left on their own. There’s no sense of “me” there or the thinking mind that is concerned with outcomes.
Spiritual awakening is like going back to that child-like state where perception is undistorted as there’s no fear. How does one arrive at that state?
Well, if you’re asking the question, you’re already on the path, and if you’re on the path, at some point, you will arrive. When will you arrive is God’s Will and the destiny of this mind-body organism.
You see, this message that there’s no “me” is one of the most painful things for the ego to accept because it challenges years and decades of conditioning.
Being a messenger of this message isn’t easy either. However, it is accepted. It is what it is. When the mind gives up resistance, the heart awakens, and a sense of peace prevails.