What is there, really, except the Self? Why the eternal dilemma? Why isn’t it easy to step out of maya? What if, instead of assuming that there is a Self to discover behind the false, illusionary sense of “I”, we decide that there is nothing else! Because the false, illusionary, sense of “I” is indeed just that! Start with birth. Did I cause the birth of the body? No. Did I pick the parents, the name, the place of birth? No. How about at least, the time of birth? No. Will I pick the date of death, the place, the time, the how? No, no, no and no. Do I control the growth of my body, my cells, my digestive system? Do I direct my breathing? Any organ at all? Can I tell the heart how fast to beat when I run and how slow when I rest? Do I direct the weather, the earth, the sky, the plants, the animals or the birds? What about the mind? Did I create it? Do I cause the stream of thoughts or their cessation? Nothing at all!
Then who is this impersonator pretending to be everything when in fact, it pretty much does nothing? Is there anything in this world that is more ridiculous than the ego?
Two hours after I wrote this, I tried to kick a fly out the door. My only sorry explanation for that is, it was a fight or flight response! Pitifully, the illusionary ‘I’ could not even accomplish that successfully. Not only did I not touch the fly, but my foot went flying into a doorframe and I broke my pinky toe. After the initial pain of the impact passed, I was horrified at the direction my toe was taking. It was pointing more to the East than North.
Thankfully, I remembered the gratitude lesson from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 9 attitudes. Nah! I am just kidding! But seriously, I was completely conscious of the emotional drama that ensued in my mind, though not conscious enough to step out of it. Normally, I would have merely called it ironic that I read about pain vs suffering earlier in the day, and that I began writing this post, but now I realized, they all happened to help me witness and to deal with this blow mindfully. I went from an ouch-worthy moment to an aha moment in the blink of a fly, err, eye! I was able to accept the not-so Urgent Care I received, the painful painkiller shot and the delay in treatment (which was next day by a podiatrist) with much more equanimity than I would have otherwise. Apparently, this thing works. Thank you, Thich Nhat Hanh – “No Mud, No Lotus”!! No, I didn’t read that book – but the title says a lot.