Conflict or Harmony - Mind Your Thinking
We are either in concert or at variance with our heartfelt desires
Each of us is either predominately in concert or at variance with our heartfelt desires. The variation can be either insignificant or very pronounced. The more we are in the former state – in harmony - the happier, more prosperous, healthy and successful we feel. Conversely, the more we are at variance between our desires and what we are actually getting in our lives, the greater our annoyance, frustration and even anger. This applies to all aspects: personal relationships, financial security, our state of health – all manner of things. We are either living at peace within ourselves, as far as certain subject matter is concerned, or we are not.
How can we solve the difference between what we want and what we are getting?
So what can we do to firstly understand what causes our problems and, secondly, how can we remedy them? Or if we can’t completely remedy them, how can we ameliorate many of these problems of disparity between what we want and what we are getting?
Our first requirement is a fuller understanding of ourselves. We all know that when we set ourselves goals or resolutions, or any kind of undertaking we hope will lead us to better things, we so often fall short. We give up, give in, or rationalize and amend the original desire to something lesser. We compromise.
A desire or goal comes from our REAL self
The desire or goal comes from our real self, the opposition to it, from something we’ve been habitually identifying as ourselves. I call this habitual identification the ego or self-image. It is how we perceive ourselves to be. It is not what we are. And make no mistake about it this self-image can be very, very powerful. It can be so powerful that it can rule our lives. Moreover, its reign can be ruthless, for it cares for none other than itself. It does not care if it hurts us.
Our ego or self-image fears for its very life
The reason for this is that for all of its existence the ego has ‘feared for its life.’ In some it is so strong that such people are labeled ‘psychopaths.’ In such, the real self is buried to such an extent it no longer appears to operate. These people come completely from ego. Whether this is actually true, I confess a lack of knowledge. However, I am informed that such people have little or no conception of empathy with their fellow human beings. It is them against the world.
A word of explanation is to why our self-image or ego fears for itself.
Our self-image is a 'house built on sand' and it knows it
It does so because it is not real and knows it. It is a sort of consciousness which has formed out of our habitual thinking, emotions and reactions. It grew with our conditioning, unanalyzed, unobserved and largely undisciplined. It had our complete acceptance because we knew nothing about it as it formed within us. The ego or self-image is no more than a congruence of ideas which have semi-solidified into our mind-body. Indeed, they are a part of our mind. I don’t wish to discuss this other than to say that this ‘ego-consciousness’ is based upon our conditioning. It has come to us by our interpretation of what we’ve learned, whether the learning be false or true. It is, however, no more than a conglomeration of thought patterns and as such is ‘a house built on sand.’
Our self-image or ego is very conscious of its vulnerability
This ‘house built on sand’ is very conscious of its vulnerability and, as previous mentioned, fears for its life. It is constantly endeavoring to strengthen itself; increase its power. This it does, as far as it can, by trying to feel important. If it’s in a contest and wins, up goes its strength and, along with it, a sense of self-importance. This is empowerment. If it loses a contest it feels bad. It has lost some of its power. When this happens there may be feelings ranging from disappointment to absolute rage. For example, last night I watched a world champion tennis player, who was unexpectedly beaten by a newcomer, smash her tennis racket on the ground until it was almost a shapeless mass. This is ego rage. This, of course, is ego reacting to a seeming loss to itself. A loss means a loss of face. Too many losses of face and…it suspects it will die.
All conflicts stem from our egos' fears
Immediately there is a loss of face, for example, when ego subjected to a sudden fear, such as when a driver is dangerously cut off in heavy traffic, you can witness the ego both in yourself and in the other driver as both of you endeavor to replace what feels to have been lost. He was in the wrong: you were in the right. Up will go the hand in a vicious and perhaps vulgar gesture. It can be almost automatic! The driver who did the cutting off might respond in kind and, before you know it, there is a violent incident of ‘road rage.’ Egos are quite willing to be violent for the most trivial matters. Mostly this is done with simple ‘one up-manship’ or having ‘the last word in an argument.’ But sometimes it is far worse. Long term hatreds, vendettas that last for generations – all stem from ego.
But to get back to our opening statement: each of us is in concert or at variance with our desires. Our desires come from our real self; that is, our souls devoid of the emotional aspects of ego. Let us take another simple example to illustrate what I mean.
Why our resolves and resolutions often come to naught
Supposing we decide to give up smoking cigarettes. Supposing we’ve been a heavy smoker for years but eventually a message has got through to us that now is the time to do it. Logically, we know it is the right thing to do. Our health will improve. There’ll be far less risk of a respiratory disease. It will save us a lot of money over time. We won’t have to feel like we’re doing something awful when we try to sneak a smoke in a non-smoking area – the list goes on. So our heart (when we come from the heart we come from our true self) tells us we should give it up and we resolve to do so.
The battle between the Real Self and the ego self
But making up one’s mind to give up smoking immediately brings up within us opposition to the idea. “I always enjoy a smoke after a meal; one won’t hurt.” Or “I like a cigarette when having a beer with friends. I’ll give it up after tonight.” “It’s the cravings…it’s so hard.” Then the rationalizations begin: “I know an old guy of eighty-five who’s still smoking happily and it hasn’t harmed him.” It becomes a battle between the real self’s desire and the ego-self’s opposition to change. The ego sees itself as ‘a smoker’ and until it does not it will continue to oppose. It certainly won’t admit it might be addicted to nicotine.
Our self image or ego are just ideas we have about ourselves
Now, the ego-self is, as I mentioned, a conglomeration of congealed thought-forms held in the mind which has taken on an identity of its own. It is a boss fearful of its own demise. However, it is made up of ideas about itself and these ideas can be changed. Once such ideas have been changed enough, they begin to align with the desires of the real self. What was at variance can now gradually come into concert with the real self’s desires.
The good news: These ideas we have about ourselves can be changed
How do we know when that is happening? Our positive, pleasant emotions – our feelings and our bodily sensations tell us this is so. When we sense pleasantness and joy in our decisions and actions we’re in harmony. When there is discord and disharmony within ourselves, our souls’ desires are in opposition to our egos’. The aim is to produce peace and harmony as we manifest our desires.
There are techniques for ameliorating and eventually nullifying our self-image opposition to what we really want, changing our self image being the thrust of these. But that, dear readers, is another essay.
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