We are all scared of so much. I feel in myself (when I honestly allow them to show themselves) such a build up of fears, doubts, painful memories, and unworked-out emotions. All of these are constructs, they are not natural to my inner, true self. These are limits I have placed (or have been placed in my childhood) upon myself, rules that my ego has imposed as a means to protect itself. Funny, me allowing something that might not really even exist to construct such obstacles to feed its own selfish hunger.
Buddhism tells me that I have, that we all have, an inner “emptiness,” and inner purity. The fears, doubts, and limits that we have are all fabricated, they are illusions, they are not real, we have made them up in the name of ego.
Maybe we construct our egos (like machines), or they were constructed for us, to protect us from the world and we so easily give over to it all power over us. We let it run the show while our true selves go off to sleep. To truly awaken is to recognize our ego for what it is and to fire it, to peel away the layers it has constructed while we were asleep. We must peel and peel, and hopefully, if we are true, each layer we peel will disappear, and once we peel the last layers, perhaps we will see that our ego was made up of these layers. Only then will we be able to let our true selves take the helm and thus live truly.
How do we identify our layers? They are all those things that crave, or that need, that hold us back, limit us, tell us we “can’t;” that tell us who and what we are, and don’t allow us to divert from it, as in “it’s not me” (to do this or that). Who is “me?” That “me” is the ego, a construct, a concept, a product of the layers themselves.
The ego seems to be a self-sustaining entity. We let our egos live our lives by proxy. It uses us to feed it; whether positive or negative, it all keeps it alive. We need to cut off that food supply. Our egos exist to protect us from letting the true world in. It honestly thinks that this is what is best for us, because that is part of its job. But once it was set in motion, it took a life of its own, and once we gave over the keys, we find ourselves locked out of a very complex infrastructure, an edifice with many layers, stories, angles, dead ends, and locked doors. The ego does its job very, very well.
There are many analogies for the ego and its role in our lives. The ego keeps us in a room, makes us feel ugly, small, helpless, and utterly dependent upon it for life. It protects us from the world because it tells us the world will never accept us for who we really are: I mean, look at yourself; you don’t have any sense of style, your hair is wrong, you’re ugly, and fat. You are too vulnerable for the world. It isn’t I who sees you that way, but the world does, and will, and won’t accept you. You will be shunned and teased and ostracized because they don’t understand. They won’t let you make mistakes, not really. Your mistakes will define you to them. You can’t control it. You wouldn’t last a day. You wouldn’t know what to do out there. You’d starve, or freeze, or be raped or killed. But I know what’s best for you. I know all about the world and how to get us through life. I am the only one who really loves you and cares about you. Let me deal with the bad, ugly, unfair, scary, unpredictable world. You just lie down. Just sleep and rest and I’ll do all the work. I will provide everything you need. But I need all of your trust. I will protect you. Why deal with all that rejection, pain, and suffering, when I can do it for you? You think that you have gone through pain and suffering? You don’t even know! It’s nothing compared to what it would be like without me. I will suffer for you. I get to have my fun as well, but I can deal with other stuff, too, which, obviously (I mean, look at you), you can’t.
Most people live their whole lives vicariously through their egos—they use them as an excuse (by assuming and espousing the “obvious” fact and quality of the ego’s existence). They allow their egos to be who and what they are. But the reality is that we are not our egos. (Your ego will tell you that this is not true—it will make you doubt—it is very, very good at these games.)
Our egos are our perceptions of ourselves. But it is hard to distinguish the ego from the effects and products of these perceptions and how they (and it) affect and color our perceptions of everything that we see as not-us. As such, our egos are a construct of our fears, doubts, wants, needs—our “baggage,” our layers of illusion. All of these things are not real; they are constructs, they are illusion. See this, know this, don’t believe the illusions (your ego will tell you that you need these things to “make sense of the world” or for your “identity,” but you do not need them), peel them away, dissolve them, and you will be free.
From my personal notes, 9/7/99.