December 11, 2012

There is no free lunch!

Many people have asked me about how not to be angry. Being mortals we cannot stop this emotion of anger completely. But with effort and awareness we can make some headway. Believe me we can, if we only try. 

The issue at the bottom of all anger is our ego dominating our being. Now it is not easy just to subdue the ego, because most of us are its prisoner even without realizing it. But if we can be aware that this ego is our false self pretending to be our real self and coaxing us to be better than the other person, we can beat it. However, when we cannot be aware that this formless entity of ‘conscience’ that is within us is a manipulator just attempting with all its guile to keep us separate from others, we fall into its  trap, imagining that what it calls for is what life is supposed to be.

Life is about social harmony. Even the most die hard critics of individualism would agree that ultimately we would like a caring, sharing and loving community. Those who deny this must be totally incarcerated by the ego. Given that this harmony is the objective of humanity, each one of us must contribute to this expression of love if we want our community or humanity is to be infused with love. Some will say this is a just a dream; how can it ever be! Yes, it can be as long as we want it to be -- remember the power of intention? -- perhaps, in the trappings of our ego, we believe we cannot be. But there is a silver lining; each one of us has control over ourselves to be what we want to be even if we cannot change the whole of society; if only we can be brave enough to look the other way to what the ego is beckoning us to do.

This is possible when we can stop doing what I term the most pervasive of our social habits – that of comparing ourselves to others. This pervasive social habit --again perpetuated by the ego because it wants you (and by that ‘it’) to be better than the other person -- is the root of our jealousy. This jealousy makes us do inhuman things. When we can’t get what we want by legal means, we use the illegal or even criminal means to achieve it and feel good about it because the ego has been satisfied. We identify so much with our ego that we are totally unaware of its tricks.

And unfortunately, even from childhood we are taught to compare – as if that is the best we can do for our children. Parents compare children with other children, at the workplace, bosses compare worker with worker, and even give awards to those who are better (who might not be better actually), teachers compare one student with the other by voicing directly, or indirectly by our archaic grading systems, and in life there on, this goes on pervasive. Parents think that by comparing they can make their child feel some shame and goad them to work harder to be like the other. Believe me parents! This is the most destructive thing you can do to your children. There are many ways to talk to your children without that young mind being affected by the feelings of disdain and rejection. Unfortunately, we do just the opposite – that of raising the specter of resentment in the young mind and plant the seeds of jealousy that manifests in many ways. Bullying, teasing, stealing, ganging-up on others, and so on – all this anti-social behavior that we see in grade school are the sprouting shoots of the seeds we as parents and society have planted – there is no denying. This behavior moves into adulthood in the form of social delinquency, theft and crime, and a life of dishonesty and deception. Mercifully, some may wake up from this through events of harsh and poignant realities that befall them in their adult life, but others go on ignorant that the ego is their real enemy within.

Our social unrest and this behest to be better than the other person, and the conflict it perpetuates is the result of the examples in our past that have formed our present psyche – the ego. But with awareness, we can change this. With an aggressive attempt of becoming aware of these competing forces within our mind, we can overcome this divisiveness. There is hope, but each one of us must make the attempt. There is no free lunch ever!

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