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Thread: The Screaming Ego

  1. #1
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    The Screaming Ego

    There have been moments sprinkled throughout this life, where a feeling rises up. It's like the creak of a door opening that's always been open. On the other side of this door, there is myself; natural, shining, and smiling. I can sense it, and it's terrifying. Paradoxically, it is both birth and death because it's letting go of the concepts of birth and death. Really, it's nothing special at all; but when standing on that threshold and gazing upon myself, it is horribly magnificent. Horrible, because it is the death of me in a way. The little me that clings and pushes, overindulges and enjoys laziness. The me that dances with such profound thoughts, which were my saving grace when I was a child. It's like if there is a monkey who's always lived in a cage. He thinks he wants out, wants to be free, but when the door opens he huddles in the corner hugging himself.

    So, like many times in the past I find myself turning away, wanting to just watch the water but not dive in. I, in my monkey mindedness, know what must be done. It's simple, it's always been simple. Just sit, and let go. This is why I've found myself rebelling when I sit the past few days, whereas this has never been an issue for me. Zen has the misconception of being just about peace, balance, and joy. This is only half the picture. We don't add anything to ourselves, we let go of that which is illusory. It is a destructive process. Not intentionally, mind you, but it's a byproduct of the pathless path. It feels as if everything I've always thought I am is dying, because the monkey is no longer being fed. It's angry, and selfish, but only because beneath it all it is (I am) afraid. The same fear I've always had. The fear that's prevented me from diving into those moments in life where we can really let go and move on. The fear that's prevented me from opportunities in work, growth, art and love. I turn away, because I'm afraid of losing myself. This is ridiculous because by losing the self, we allow ourselves to truly be.

    The small mind is clever, brilliant really. A master at preserving the dream. For awhile I even entertained the thought that we are all just ideas, that we never truly know anyone, just our idea of them. Seems logical right? Too bad it's rubbish haha. For much of our lives, we wonder at how people describe us. We feel that we know ourselves more than them, that's why their view is incongruous with our own. Really, friends and family have always seen the natural me, whereas I only know the illusion. That's why the monkey mind's fear, "If you let me go, you will change to the point where no one will love you," is even unfounded, because I will be just who I've always been. "Come on!" it says, "I love indulging in all the pleasantries this form has to offer. I'll even stoically withstand the unpleasantness that comes and goes as a compromise. Just don't let me go." Funny thing is, when the ego grows quiet refraining from over-indulgence is not a task; it's just natural.

    All that I have to do is sit, and let the dissonance be and it will resolve itself. So, I've kept myself occupied haha. Never before have I felt this compelled to let go, and never before have I fought so viciously against it. I don't want to turn and see myself smiling back at me, because it's a beautiful, ghastly, compassionate smile. The smile of Big Mind, which is the only Mind. The ego fights, even writing this thread is it defending itself. Hiding in words and letters like I did when I was a child. Even the awareness of this process is the ego defending itself. Makes the whole thing seem almost mystical, though it isn't mystical at all. Haha, even me knowing that it isn't mystical is the ego defending itself. Anyway, I will be fine and I'm fine now; the conflict is resolving. I applepologize for the rant, but I figured that this could serve as a comfort to any of you who will or are experiencing this. So now I go. Now, I sit.

    Gassho, John

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    ' I feel you bro '

    I've been studying buddhism, zen, spirituality, for a while now. I've got this ego that's very loud and not very kind to this body that seem to be my host.

    .. but seriously when thinking about it. Do I really have the guts to drop it all? I know it's illusions, happiness when getting the right girl, when succeeding in some areas, get this perfect body. But damn the illusions are so powerful, and it's so freaking hard to try and leave them. I'm living my ego still, and sometimes I think to my self, stupid as I am, oh when I wake up I'll have the capacity to reach all my (ego) goals (because IM ENLIGHTENED), but... when if I wake up, hm, all those goals don't matter much anymore, I'm a world where I don't have to prove anything to anyone anymore. WOW, that's really scary! I hate being raised in this society wheres everything you do is competition and happiness is how well you do it. Sometimes I feel like I will never be able to let go, to let go of 'me', dreams, dreams of happiness, to leave it all behind. But deep inside I know for certain it's the only true way to lasting salvation, I don't want to die living in my small ego-mind. That will be a terrible experience!

    So yes, I really understand what you are talking about here. Thanks for sharing, It feels good (to my ego mind) that I'm not battling this one only important battle alone. This one battle, the one and only battle you need to win in your life.
    Last edited by Neo; 12-19-2013 at 10:44 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tiwala's Avatar
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    Great thread. Thanks. I appreciate these posts. I feel sometimes alienated because everyone else seems to be doing alright, but there's a war going inside me. Haha.

    Gassho, Ben
    Gassho
    Ben

  4. #4
    We all have our fantasies but I did buy a new Buddha yesterday and it was made in Nepal. Will post a pic when I receive it.



    Kind regards. /\
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    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

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    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Thank you John, I can really identify with what you have put in words.

    Shawn

    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk
    I am a student at Treeleaf. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. Gassho

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    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Glad you can relate to it everyone. It's definitely interesting to say the least. I think everyone feels the tension caused by this from time to time. Some shrug it off, others let it go (thus overcoming it), while for some it becomes blatantly obvious what it is. At times, it seems that knowing a lot about Buddhist philosophy is more harmful than knowing practically nothing at all. Sitting is the answer though; to every question. Zen is zazen, because everything (and nothing) is zazen. To facilitate practice, I have actually restarted Ango again (though it never really starts or stops haha). I'm in a few Zen groups on Facebook and I've found that too much intellectual discussion about Zen just hinders me. There even comes a time when I have to put down the Zen books and the sutras and just sit (Zen is about looking to the mind, not secondhand knowledge. Ironically I heard this said, so this quote is also secondhand knowledge). On another note, do you often sit Shikantaza with a timer? I know it's suggested, but it actually just distracts me more than anything. If I set a clock for 20 minutes or so, I'm constantly wondering how long I've been sitting haha. If I sit without one, I just sit until intuition says it's time to get up (usually around 20 minutes anyway).

    Gassho, John

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    Yes you are right, buddhism is a progmatic 'religion'. I love reading philosophy, it's really 'drugs for your mind', but you never really get anywhere. Today I bet I'm at somewhere between 90% studying, 10% sitting. It should be the other way around. But my ego always finds some excuse for not sitting today. It tells me I need to read some more 'drugs for the mind' first.

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    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    I love reading philosophy, it's really 'drugs for your mind', but you never really get anywhere.
    Sorry, I disagree. Studying and reading complements sitting. I find that I can read the same book five times, and, each time, get more out of it, as my sub-conscious understanding has grown. There are very few books of philosophy - buddhist or other - that I "get" on the first read.

    Gassho, Kirk

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    There are people who get 'enlightened' without ever reading one book. And as it's said, the sixth patriarch wasn't able to read at all. I understand what you mean but I still think the real practice is what will make any difference to me. Reading a lot of books about spirituality just gets more junk in there that has to be taken out in the end. It's always a concept, something pointing. But with that in mind, sure it could help with the pointing!

    But I think it's useless if you don't put any focus on the pragmatic parts. For me I read because it's almost like a drug for the mind, as I earlier stated. Always looking for the next book, 'oh that one will really make me understand', 'I just haven't found the right book yet'. It's not so different from other concepts of happiness that we got from our culture, just another kind of ego-mind.

    Do you understand how I mean? For me! If you use it as a complement for hard work, you are using it in a more healthy way than I am.
    Last edited by Neo; 12-20-2013 at 10:54 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    I know what you mean about always looking for one more book. I just moved house (second time this year), and I'm aghast at how many books I have; not just dharma books, but books about many subjects.

    However, with dharma books, it's different. I find that each one does open up something in my mind, if only a little bit. And each one gives me something for my mind to sub-consciously examine when I sit.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    I know what you mean about always looking for one more book. I just moved house (second time this year), and I'm aghast at how many books I have; not just dharma books, but books about many subjects.

    However, with dharma books, it's different. I find that each one does open up something in my mind, if only a little bit. And each one gives me something for my mind to sub-consciously examine when I sit.
    I'm not reading anything right now except occasionally The Essential Dogen. I know a good dharma book when I cant put it down until finished. Many I've started and never finished.

    I always set my phone alarm to 25-30 when sitting. Sometimes it feels like 50 and sometimes 5.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  12. #12
    Senior Member Nameless's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    Yes you are right, buddhism is a progmatic 'religion'. I love reading philosophy, it's really 'drugs for your mind', but you never really get anywhere. Today I bet I'm at somewhere between 90% studying, 10% sitting. It should be the other way around. But my ego always finds some excuse for not sitting today. It tells me I need to read some more 'drugs for the mind' first.
    Haha yes indeedly. In the end the practice is about... well practice. The Dharma is usually an essential part as well, but for me it serves as a guide on this journey.

    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    Sorry, I disagree. Studying and reading complements sitting. I find that I can read the same book five times, and, each time, get more out of it, as my sub-conscious understanding has grown. There are very few books of philosophy - buddhist or other - that I "get" on the first read.


    Gassho, Kirk
    Also very true. I do love reading and thinking about the Dharma. It does "expand the mind' in a manner of speaking, and can put our thoughts and behavior into perspective. Can put the world into perspective really. The thing is, that we can't think ourselves to Nirvana. Buddha-nature isn't realized through intellectual pursuits but by direct experience of what's been written in all these books and spoken of by Jundo and Taigu. I like this ancient verse a lot

    A special transmission outside the scriptures
    No dependence on words and letters
    Direct pointing to the mind of man
    Seeing into one's own nature and attainment of
    Buddhahood
    Basically we can't depend on secondhand knowledge. Through practice, when we read the Dharma it feels as if we've always known it, and wrote it ourselves. At least that's how I grok it. Everything is within our own minds, I just have to turn and face myself. So yeah, really everyone is right. Love when everyone's right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post
    I'm not reading anything right now except occasionally The Essential Dogen. I know a good dharma book when I cant put it down until finished. Many I've started and never finished.


    I always set my phone alarm to 25-30 when sitting. Sometimes it feels like 50 and sometimes 5.
    Need to read that sometime as actually. Just got done reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind for the second time and finding gems in the Dhammapada. Anyway to update, my ego isn't screaming as loudly now haha. I was able to cast things aside and sit for... think it was an hour or so. Jumped off Facebook again, and the extent of the reading right now I'm doing is right here at the Sangha.

    Gassho, John
    Last edited by Nameless; 12-20-2013 at 06:19 PM.

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