This weekend proved to be the most arduous passage yet on my journey to kill my ego. For the last two months and ten days, I’ve felt light inside me. A light that I never dreamed of, could have never conceived. No matter where I was, what externality I faced, I felt love and acceptance. I have been at peace not only for the longest period but for the first time ever. But this weekend shook me to the core.
I was shocked into sobs when I realized I had certain expectations and assumptions I hadn’t consciously developed. For months now, I’ve believed in the danger of expectations – that they only cause disappointment and pain – especially if our happiness is based on those specific conditions. True joy comes from within, based on nothing but the light of the moment. Expectations violate everything from which joy emanates – acceptance and surrender in the now.
Suffice it to say, I was taken aback that I had based a portion of my happiness on assumed conditions. Or, at least my ego did. That’s the other realization that struck me – my ego is a sly, nasty little bugger. It slinked its way into the fore, slowly, silently, until it latched on to something it could turn explosive. I felt it creep up on me, wanting to react to the simplest of things. I did see it and I felt it. I thought I was proving strong enough to squelch its progress. At least, I didn’t give into its peer pressure to react. Until, my strength proved to be imprisoned by it. And the sobs broke forth, involuntarily, unrelenting.
After the initial jolt began to fade, I next felt shame. I did not want to sit there and cry. Moreover, I did not want to feel the suffocating grip within my chest. Where was the pain coming from? Why was I hurting? And how did I become so naïve to believe that I had welcomed the light so quickly, never to lose myself in the darkness again? I felt weak. I felt vulnerable. I felt unworthy.
I knew this wasn’t how I was perceived through his eyes. He allowed me to be weak. He allowed my pain to exist. He accepted it in the way I only wished I could. He held me close when I wanted to push myself away. Yes, my skin felt undesirable to me.
Thus began a spiral – the all-too-familiar interminable spiral into the depths of the dark abyss within me. I quickly lost sight of love for myself, within myself. I lost the acceptance I had felt for the past two months. I had returned to the pain of fear and anxiety. Was I just fooling myself? Was it all an illusion?
Truthfully, it was not until I was in a rapid descent that I realized my ego had taken over. This wasn’t me. I didn’t want to be in pain. I don’t want to suffer. And this fear, the fear that my ego used to cripple me – it was completely unfounded. I was no longer in the moment, in now. I was done with my ego. I said it out loud to the empty room around me, “I’m done with you.”
Realizing the grip my ego had on me helped, but the journey back up the trenches took longer than I would have liked. There again, I lacked acceptance. I was still riddled with judgment, criticism. I struggled. I did not want to struggle. I wanted to shun the darkness that so often pervades me, infiltrates me. I wanted the darkness to die.
But we cannot kill the darkness any more than we can kill our egos. Enlightenment is not the death of the ego but transcendence of it.
I see now that my struggle against the darkness, my desire to murder it, keeps me from peace. Focusing on the fall keeps my gaze down, welcoming the darkness through shame and disappointment. Instead, I must seek to accept the darkness when it surfaces; knowing all I need to do is turn my gaze upward to embrace the light. For only the light can dispel the darkness and thus illuminate the path.
I can no longer expect to be rid of the darkness. I can no longer base my joy in the assumption that it will disappear completely. But I can acknowledge that to overcome an existing obstacle rather than erase it, kill it, proves more empowering, more enlightening. Finding and entering the light after familiarity within darkness offers true awareness – for it is reaching for the light, not resisting the pain that leads us to pure consciousness.