The Ego is a wandering spirit, looking for itself.
“Ego does not exist.”
“Nonsense, I know the ego!”
“Then, what is it?”
“I am not sure.”
“Is it you?”
“I don’t know…”
“Ok, observe it and come back.”
“So, what did you see? What is the ego?”
“It vanishes if you try to focus your attention on it.”
“What if, after it has gone, you keep your focus on where it vanished?”
“No… it is impossible to observe nothing?”
“Have you ever tried?”
“Who is trying to see your ego?”
“Who is “I” then, if it is not ego?”
“I … I am confused now.”
If you try, you will know this phenomenon. You see how ego, with a sense of dread, suspects that it does not truly exist, but you also know that the illusion of ego must have a source. This source gives you the power to look for the ego and to know that ego does not exist. This source is eternal, and it is the same source which causes ego to say: “My source is eternal; I should be eternal! So how come I don’t exist?”
Birth of the Mind
To understand what this puzzling self-contradictory phenomenon of existence is, ego projects the tool of mind, but mind is equally puzzled because it is an aspect of ego. Mind thinks: ”I”, but is “I” enough?” Ego-mind is torn. “I must exist, but my sense of “I” by itself is not enough. “I” is empty, it is only half of it. I desperately need to exist fully by existing as something more…. as anything!” So, ego-mind imagines it can be more, it invents “I am” but “I am” is also not enough. “To be real, I have to not only just be, I need to be something. I need to gain value through adding identity and skills to my being. I need to become—this and that. Becoming this and that does not fulfil the always hungry ego either, so it reaches outwards by sprouting senses, senses give birth to more desires, desires seek external that and this. With desires arise the appearance of the individual and the world wide web of body and objects. The ego sees this world, forgets it has projected it and attaches itself to a multitude of things in order to fulfil its desire to exist. But the infinitude of this and that keeps changing, being born and dying. Nothing in this world of crumbling things is stable. So, the ego never achieves the satisfaction of a lasting taste of eternal existence, and it also never achieves a constant manifestation of itself in the phantom world as a phantom projection. Ego is always in pain because it wants what it is not, it wants something solid and constant; it calls this imagined constancy happiness or peace.
You know deep down that ego plays a game that cannot be won, but if ego wants to get a taste of existing as a separate entity as well as a knowledge of eternal existence, the ego has no choice but to play.
You have the amazing ability to observe this. So, what are you? Let us observe the ego a bit more before considering this question.
The Lonely and Hungry Ego
Ego feels trapped and lonely—ego is itself the trap. Ego has the compulsion to keep manifesting its elusive sense of immortality, but ego thinks it can only enjoy this fleeting glimpse of bliss by staying separate in the ocean of the world. Looking at the waves, it thinks it floats as a lonely coconut in a storm. The truth is that the sense of separation is an illusion that blinds the ego to the knowledge that it is inseparable from the ocean of eternal existence.
The ghostly ego floating in the infinite ocean does not know it is the ocean, so it feels lonely and hungry. A powerful pull makes it rise like a wave and turn like a restless wheel. The pull is a painful combination of the central desire to truly exist and a nagging sense of not being real. The turning wheel generates a host of desires. The pivotal desire to exist as something is the axel generating the current of life that says: “I, as pure being, want to lose ego to exist as eternal oneness. And I, as ego, never want to die or change.”
Since it is impossible for the ego to become oneness and eternal, without being annihilated, it projects its phantom desires, creates borders between mine and not-mine but clings to its sense of possession to get a taste of oneness. The ego’s deluded desires manifest the march of countless non-existent things, which the ego then inhabits or attaches itself to in order to conjure up the spectre of truly existing. In its pursuit of connection, existence, and wholeness, it jumps towards complexity from quarks, to atoms, to molecules, to rocks to microorganisms and plants over into animals and then as a human being contemplating its existence.
The ego wave, whose source was the fullness of existence itself, has now become like a frightened bird, jumping restlessly from branch to branch… never satisfied, always hungry, always driven by small desires and brief satisfactions, never realizing the source of the multiple desires. In its blindness, it fails to consider the myriad mind-blowing contradictions with knowing. The ego does not see that its source is eternal and that its appearance is time limited, this ignorance is the core reason for its terrible confusion and restless movement. The ego is a wandering spirit looking for itself, looking for rest. But, like the mind, if the ego rests, it vanishes.
The Restless of Life
So, the human being keeps moving. We keep seeking to satisfy our desire for peace, we call it joy. We acquire this and that. We consume that and this. We experience a fleeting joy when we fulfil a desire. We love the moments where we let go of our conditions for happiness and a pure and easy experience of our inborn joy arises naturally, but by mistake we attach our inner joy to the outer experience of fulfilling a desire. We taint the infinite and eternal joy with the consumption and experience of small and limited stuff.
Because we go on believing that the joy comes from the desired object or situation, we keep seeking things to consume and circumstances to experience or reexperience. Ego experiences this bliss as short lived because it thinks it only happens if a desire is satisfied, while we are actually extinguishing a desire by temporarily satisfying it.
But desired things do not keep their allure; eating three servings of ice cream does not triple the joy of eating one ice cream. The peaceful state of being desireless and at ease is fleeting, but it gives us a glimpse of our original and eternal state. Without the straitjacket of unease and unfulfillment, the natural joy is simply, for a moment, allowed to shine forth. This is a taste of our true “I.”
It is evident, though, that the joy does not come from outside. So why do we still believe that joy is the result of desire? Because we, as ego, are stuck in a limited spectrum of manifestation; we deal mainly with the interaction of matter and thought. So, we walk half-blind, forever skipping from desire to desire, thing to thing, situation to situation. We are only offered a temporary fix for the eternal longing that, through a million unpredictable twists, pulls us steadily towards freedom. The longing for freedom is the hand of grace that never let go. Never forgets. Always pulling us home. For this blessed and pure longing to return us to its source—to our true source—surrender and trust is needed. Not control or struggle.
Trust is the lubricant. Doubt is the brake.
We know this road, we have walked it forever, but we have lost our trust—and by that, our wisdom. We have forgotten who we are. We think we must let go of the hand of grace and take control ourselves. We forget that helping hand. We think we become the lonely spot of the ego. We live in solitude. We live in pain. We know deep down that our source is peace and oneness. This unbearable contrast drives us to despair. We begin to look for a fix for this pain. Just a short relief. We find something that gives a temporary joy. A temporary fix.
Seeking a temporary fix for deep pain is the root of addiction. And so, we get addicted to the changing world. We get yoked to the turning wheel of narrow desires and their short-lived satisfactions. We call this addiction “life.”
Our petty desires manifest the world of transitory objects and a life of short joys and limited satisfactions. Chasing our own tail, we spin around and around with a perpetual sense that this will not last. Never quite feeling that this is it.
We become like greyhounds, whose instinctive desire to chase real rabbits, has been distorted to race after plastic ones. The hounds are tricked into exhausting their useful power and ability to catch a useless decoy. For us, this world is the decoy but we see it as real due to our unexamined desires. The hunt for the fake decoy in the hope of satisfying our true desire is in vain, but it is the driving force of humanity. So, we race. Round and round we spin, until we become exhausted and stop.
We think “This can’t be it?” We wipe the sweat from our brow. We begin to look up, to look around, for a new perspective.
You look at everything to find yourself.
You want to understand the inner nature of this world. You move and you examine.
One day you find yourself in front of a large tree, you want to know the inner nature of this tree, so you embrace the trunk. You commune with it. You see the pattern of its being, you remember that pattern in yourself, you remember how everything was before the pattern became complex, before it became matter, how it was a part of you. You remember that the form of the tree was a projection of an idea, your idea. It was your desire to know yourself that took on the form of a pattern with the power to manifest as a tree in the plant kingdom. In you it manifested as a story, a sensation. That is how you know the tree. You know it through resonance. Now you can see, you can see through the veil of matter, and see the subtler patterns, the projections of your own mind. Seeing the patterns, you see them as smoke signals rising out of the forest, and your awareness goes higher, you begin to see where the signals originate from, you trace them back to their source.
You look at this phenomenon for a long time. Around us the world keeps changing. We keep looking.
When the student is ready the teacher appears
We realize that there are millions of doors to go through, they all lead us deeper into confusion, but one door leads out. If we are lucky, we start to see that one true desire exists behind the millions of never-gone-never-there, surface-desires. We realize that one door is the way to freedom. We see that we have known that since the beginning—we are that. When we begin to see that all we want is freedom, we manifest a different world. In the human realm the wish to know can manifest as a guide, as guru. You recognize the guru principle because your longing resonates with the guru’s knowledge.
We recognize the simple desire for being what we truly are. For oneness. For peace.
When it is understood that this knowledge of liberation is also yours, and that it is the source of the root of desires, you need to become still, you need to sit down to look at it to see if it is true.
We need timeless patience sitting in front of that true door of freedom, which was the one we entered through in the first place. When we entered though, the door was called ego, ego became the world.
We look at the ego, the point of entry, for a long time. We look from inside. From the outside, this looking rings out like a clear knocking sound calling guru to our assistance. Guru is not an external person; guru is a manifestation of who we truly are.
We keep looking. Everything else falls away. The outward knocking continues. Guru is waiting with infinite patience.
We return to the one original desire; we return to a simpler world as a simpler being.
Our world becomes our guru, our teacher. Guru guides you to look for your essential nature. To find yourself.
But the looking—you will have to do alone.
We observe. We stay free of conclusions.
The lack of conclusions dissolve illusion.
The path disappears. The door vanishes.
The separation was never real.
Our world is flooded.
You follow the source, you become the source.
The source where everything is known and nothing needs to be known.
Where you simply exist without the need to become.
Fullness and emptiness in one.
One without a second.
You are complete.
That is what you are.
That is what you have always been.
Kaare Troelsen – Vijay Shyam April 2021