Once, when I was teaching, I was reminded of the importance of making connections through stories. I shared a personal story with my students and they, in turn, opened up with many stories of their own. I was grateful for this reminder and continued the practice in future class lessons. On the drive home from work that day, it occurred to me that it is the ego that keeps us from sharing personal stories because it is what causes us to be afraid of being judged. That thought revealed a simple fact to me; ego gets in the way of truth.
We Are Not the Opinion of Others
Our ego is ours and ours alone. It has been formed by experiences incurred throughout our lifetime. We gather up information derived from all our human interactions and give other’s thoughts power by telling our self (or ego) that their opinions of us are important. If they look negatively upon us, we tell ourselves that we must have done something wrong. However, we must remember that their reactions to us are based on their life experiences. Furthermore, their ideas are surmised from an accumulation of the thoughts of others, and on and on the thought train goes.
Therefore, it can be concluded that our thoughts are flawed by the very nature of thinking, and we can’t know the truth through others. We can only know truth by convincing ourselves that other people’s opinion of us are not us! We must convince ourselves of this fact in such a way that it goes without saying.
Mislead by Egoic Thinking
Einstein himself ran across troubles because his mind was veiled by other people’s interpretation of reality. I recall hearing that Einstein accepted the concept of a static universe. He simply could not believe that the universe was in motion. Because of this limited perspective, Einstein developed the idea of antigravity, which became a side note for seventy years because scientists who followed him also could not get past the idea of a static universe.
Many times truth has been hidden from scientists, astronomers, philosophers, and the like, because of concepts “shown” to them by their predecessors. Until they can shed these preconceived notions, the veil will remain. Certainly if Einstein has had his ideas shaped by the erroneous thoughts of others, then the rest of us can take solace in the fact that even the greatest minds in humanity can be mislead by the false self, otherwise known as the ego.
If it is true that reality is in our mind in the form of mental constructs, then what I think must affect the world. The world does indeed seem to be a highly connected organism, which extends through space and time. Thoughts can be recorded with devices measuring brain waves and patterns of electrical impulses, therefore, thoughts are things. If thoughts are things, it stands to reason that these things can have influence on other objects in the environment, perhaps even without the need of the great mediator of action. Could that be possible?
Find Truth in Presence
The ego hides truth from us, there is little doubt about that! Therefore, the importance of performing actions while remaining unattached to the results is paramount. It has been said that we can be free from the weight of the ego by remaining unattached to outcomes. For example, a student can study for an exam and still be unconcerned about the final score. He or she can do everything necessary to best prepare for the test, simply for the learning that will take place in the process of these preparations.
The same could be said about anything if we remain totally present while performing the action. It could be sweeping the floor, or doing the dishes, or building a new deck, or conducting work at our job site; the actual task matters not. The only thing that matters is that we are totally present while doing it, and we remain unattached to the results of the activity. Certainly, if we are one hundred percent present while performing a task, the outcome will be pleasing to us because we will not be distracted. What this means is that as long as we are present while performing a task, the results will take care of themselves.
I used this idea myself when I went to grad school several years ago. When I had the desire to write a paper, I was never overly concerned with the grade. I just continued on with my regular daily schedule, including setting aside time to research and write the rough draft of the paper. When I had an inspired thought to write about, I did it without being concerned whether or not it actually ended up in the final draft. Then, the organization of the thoughts took place at the scheduled time to work on the paper. When someone or something (such as a book) that could help me came into my life, I utilized their expertise, whatever it was. I simply continued taking steps in the right direction and let the outcome take care of itself.
Consider the difference between going on a bike ride and going on a walk. Both modes of transportation will get us to the desired location, and both will provide a nice way to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. However, although the bike ride will get us there quicker, it causes the world to rush by us and we miss many of the subtle pleasantries, such as flowers alongside the road, or the many colors swimming through the clouds during he sunset. If all we are interested in is getting to the finish line, then taking the fastest way is perhaps the best. But if life is a race then death is the finish line! If that is the case, then I would much rather take a walk and see all life has to offer.
Perhaps so much truth has been hidden, at least in part, as a result of technology. After all, certainly the media has an influence on the development of our collective ego. Once when I was teaching we were talking about our society and the views of the elders. The general consensus of the class was that we don’t revere the elders like other societies. We discussed how this might have something to do with the information age we have found ourselves in.
We have access to an incredible amount of information at our disposal via the Internet. This generation of young adults seems to rely on this information, along with that coming from the media, and their peers, because quite frankly, they spend much more time with them than adults. How much time is left for them to listen to their elders’ stories? Perhaps because of the easy access to unlimited information supplied by technology, this generation of teenagers sees no use for listening to their elders. What a shame! The elders have so much wisdom to offer and we fail to see it. We don’t treat them with the respect they deserve and therefore, miss out on their protective and helpful insight. It seems time we listen to one another again. I am certain we will be glad we did!