The ego is our greatest obstacle. It is what stands between us and awakened joy. The strength of the ego-self is defined by the degree of investment that we have in the people, experiences and situations that surround us. By divesting ourselves of our attachment to the objects of our lives and becoming transparent to their impact on the ego-self, we become unassailable - emotionally and spiritually.

The ego-self is huge. It drives our luxury sports car, lives in our lovely neighborhood, drinks our expensive wines and wears our designer clothes. It decides between our Harley and our pick-up, chooses our beer, defines our God and selects our mate. It is ubiquitous. It defines us - all of us -- and we allow it to define us.

The greatest investment of the ego-self is in ourselves. Within this self-frame of reference, we are the most important thing in the universe and when we confront people, situations or circumstances that potentially compromise that degree of importance, we become indignant, angry, and sometimes even rageful. Mostly, we become frightened.

I had lunch with my friend Mer yesterday. We were sitting in a little café, in a little town by the seaside - perfect for a Sunday afternoon. At some point, a family came in from church and the children sat at the café table next to us. The little girl - who was about 8 -- was, frankly, a terror; she was knocking things over, hitting her brothers, running around, and standing at the door and holding it open to yell to her parents who were wisely seated outside.

What she did most was get to me - or, more properly, set me up to allow me to let her get to me. Instead of remaining in my bubble or within the bubble I shared with Mer, I went out - and right into this little girl's space. She pushed against my need for social control and, instead of letting her pass through my transparency, I became solid.

Compassion for a poorly parented and ill-mannered child, space held for neglectful parents who themselves only sought a moment's peace by retreating to the courtyard, respect for the patience of a not-so-much-older brother who gently shepherded his elusive little sister all vanished into the container of my personal ego-need for social order and control. I became distracted. I became impatient. I became irritable and irritated. I lost sight of the transparency of the watercourse way and became solid. I became anxious, uncomfortable, self-conscious, frightened -- I became ego.

Being transparent means letting it - all of it - pass through us. Converse to letting go, it means never holding on in the first place. When we can learn to do this, we remove the obstacles of ego that we ourselves create in our lives. We no longer find ourselves in our own way, but out of it. And being out of it we can be more authentically in it because there is no longer a barrier to authenticity - self-created or otherwise.

So, the next time you find yourself ruffled or off-balance ask yourself what it is that you are investing in. Better yet, ask yourself who is doing the investing; is it the witness - not likely -- or the ego-self? And when you do find yourself ruffled or off-balance, rather than letting go, just stop holding on.

 

© 2008 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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About the Author

Michael J. Formica

Michael J. Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He is an Initiate in the Shankya Yoga lineage of H.H. Sri Swami Rama and the Himalayan Masters.

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