Welcome! I just finished attending a concert by Krishna Das. The wonders of humanity are so beautiful to watch and listen to. I am pleased that music written a long time ago, in a country far away from here, sung again by a New Yorker-turned-devotee can bring such joy and wonderment to me.
This isn’t my first concert of Krishna Das. I attended a concert of his a few years ago. However, as I listened this time I felt something new. I felt a stronger sense of being part of humanity. I felt, as I listened, a stronger sense of my self-worth.
I could tell that the feelings of low self-esteem created by judgments were diminished. This is no doubt as a result of the spiritual practice I’ve been conducting over the last few years, a spiritual practice that includes the concept that we are all part of God and that I am a spiritual creature having a physical experience.
What I noticed tonight was that I felt this way without a sense of loss to my ego. You see, I thought that as I moved into this new belief system, I would find my ego would diminish. However, with each step into this new belief system, I find my ego is not diminished in the least. I now believe it’s not a competition between my spiritual self and my ego. There appears to be no balancing act I have to master between the two.
Let me take a couple of steps back.
This post is based on the belief that you and I are created equal, yet my physical manifestation is not a duplicate of yours. My skills, talents, knowledge, and personality are different from yours. There appear to be millions of differences between me and the rest of humanity, differences that, I find, feed my ego.
Indulge me while I talk about my ego like it’s a person.
My ego reminds me that I cannot “destroy” or “ignore” him, I can only love and admire him. Yet my ego likes to know and judge the differences between me and other people.
I have spent many years training my ego. For example, I trained him to realize that differences of sex, sexual orientation, race, country of origin, and religion are not to be used in generating feelings of superiority, disgust, nor disappointment, nor used as a basis for any kind of negative comparison.
For a long time, I thought that training my ego this way was being a “good” person. I felt righteous in my superior ego. This led to times where I felt superior over those who were still prejudiced. My ego likes that kind of feeling of superiority. He believes that makes me good. It makes me special and worthy of being loved. It makes me someone who matters.
Now, you may be thinking that the prohibition on prejudice is good, but you can see the trap of using it as a new basis for feeling superior. The catch-22 here is entirely made by the ego. The ego is seeking something to make it special, so trying to train an ego to be open and accepting of others is a never-ending cycle.
Sure, people with an open mind seem to be less likely to perform evil on others. However, there is a limit always imposed by the ego. For me, my ego’s limit came down to the person’s impact on society. I mean, as long as a difference still left them operating as contributing members to our society after all, I could accept them as equal.
So let us dig deeper into these prejudices that come closer to home. Let us consider intelligence, work experience, training, education, and even personal desires, goals, and talents. To these differences we offer higher pay rates, longer vacations, better housing, more and better medical services, superior modes of transportation, and easier access to communications, entertainment, and personal grooming services.
Now my ego argues that those who contribute more to the success of society deserve the value they receive. But let us consider the judgement of those who don’t contribute effectively to our society as a prejudice. Let us consider our prejudice toward those who in fact hinder our society and “suck at the tit of humanity without even the consideration of a thank you”. What then? Is the ego right and all of our spiritual gurus, guides, and wayshowers wrong? Are we to feel justified in our feelings of superiority over the sex offender?
So here I find myself stuck. Stuck because every judgement, prejudice, or consideration that allows me to think I am superior is a double trap to think I am inferior. My ego can’t be killed or ignored and my judgements keep my self-esteem low. There apparently is no escape from the self-esteem trap my ego has laid.
For you see, no matter how smart I get about my beliefs, no matter how many times I tell myself, “We are all created equal,” my ego isn’t believing it. That ego looks back and me and says, “I call bullshit”. My ego on its own can’t handle the concept that we are all created equal because my ego is dependent upon me being special to be sure of its survival in its separation from God, the source.
What the ego doesn’t know is what I thought about tonight as I walked along. The ego doesn’t know that it just doesn’t matter. What my ego thinks is all manifest as a dream, because it’s based on a false belief. My ego is deceived by its own belief in separation. It’s deceived because it believes I am somehow isolated from the source.
So, in my spiritual practice, I am teaching my ego that I am not separate. I teach it that I am part of a greater creation, and to my great happiness and surprise, instead of dwindling as I practice my spiritual path, my ego thrives, because you and I, my friend, are not separate. We are really one. We come from the same source and we are everlasting, so our differences can be celebrated and considered, not as a way to make us special, but as a way for us to understand our physical lives.
So I continue, in this body and on this earth, to create with you for a time, each in the role we have chosen. As I manage a team of project managers and help build software to connect cars to the internet, it makes no difference to my ego how I compare to you. As I attract resources into my life by being great at my job and getting recognized by others for the contribution I make to society, I am no more or less special, because I know that I am special for the same reason you are — I am special because I am a creation of God.
In that, the authors of the Declaration of Independence had it right. “All men are created equal.” We are just not all the same person having the same physical experience. With love and gratitude I wish you the same knowing, a knowing that you are worthy and amazing, not for what you do, achieve, or own, but because you just are.