Osho – Slow down

May 7, 2018


Ego & The Opposite

December 7, 2015

This is a guest post by RF Grant.

Through many years of conditioning—specifically as a result of competitive society—humans haven’t had much of a choice but to practice the “ego” state of mind continually. According to Eastern thought, this is the mind that constantly measures, compares, or identifies all sense-objects in reality. When we analyze most modernized, capitalistic societies, we see an underlying value within its people’s minds: a carnivorous mentality of competitiveness pervading our every choice.

Somehow, the perceived rewards of this state are yielded materialistically. It doesn’t matter who you are—if you’re driving the newest car, owning property spanning several thousand square feet, wearing designer clothing, and living through the illusions of the internet to prove it to strangers—these qualities belong, by most standards, to someone who’s admirable, someone who’s made it, a desirable person anyone would want in their life. As long as one continues to grow their material wealth and net worth, they will be adored, accepted, and loved; anything to make us compare ourselves to those passd on the streets every day. Anything to make us measure our bank account zeros to our neighbor’s. Anything to create an identity which separates us from the meaningless herd from which we belong.

But beneath it all, what is this perpetual state of mind really doing to us? What is it doing to our sentimentalism, our emotional well-being—even our souls?

Buddhism refers to the ego-mind as the root of all suffering. In Christianity, the comparable term is, perhaps, pride. Sects of Hinduism philosophize extensively on the nature of the ego in the Upanishads, exhaustively stating that its mindset—the mind which compares, measures, and identifies everything—is illusory. That it belongs to the projection of Māyā: the illusion, our world.

Buddhists believe that Taṇhā, or craving, is a primary reason why we are reborn into this cyclical world. The insatiable craving for worldly things—expensive cars, money, property, and the influence it will have on others—is the reason why our souls cannot ascend to higher realms when we die. Buddhists believe the soul’s intent using the mind causes its destination, and Taṇhā (craving for the things of this world) is a conscious intent conditioned by such things as ignorance and society.

Like an addiction, our sense of craving for the world, its objects, and the influence, won’t fade until our consciousness expands outside of the state that addiction originally placed us into. Even in Biblical scripture, John 2:16 – 17 states, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

So, why has the majority turned out this way? Generally, why are the values of the majority of people in this modern world completely against the syncretic path all religions have placed before us? It’s a hard question. Perhaps it is the Great Test underlying our daily troubles. Whether you believe in this article or not—whether you believe in what religions are preaching or not—go out into the world tomorrow. Start to experience it differently; as fragmented. See it in the eyes of the people around you, in the wilderness and its sights and sounds. Listen, look. Pay attention. Be aware. There might be a substratum behind the façade of everyday life.

Just for a day, pull away from constantly attempting to outdo those in your social life. Instead, see them as God’s creatures, each with a special gift they can offer. Love them instead of one-upping them. Listen instead of talking. See one another for our sufferings rather than what we own and what we’re trying to prove. And always, always ask questions—about others, about yourself, about the nature of our world. Perhaps then, a new path begins. One which leads to the reconciliation of opposites.
©2015 Works of R. F. Grant





Daniel Goleman about altruism, mirror neurons, and how the human brain is wired for compassion

Because of mirror neurons, tuning into our internal feelings gives us a mix of our own responses and what we pick up from the other. So the challenge is to distinguish between what comes from our own reactions and what comes from the other person. Say you’re at a party and you notice the person you’re talking to is not really listening to what you’re saying, but is scanning the room behind you. It’s a common moment that can be interpreted in many ways, depending on our own emotional habits. If you are prone to an abandonment pattern, at that instant you might assume she’s rejected you and is going to leave. Unlovability would trigger the thought “She doesn’t like me.” If you have fears of social exclusion, you might start feeling you’re an outsider in this group. If you’re a narcissist, you might have the thought “This person isn’t worth my spending time on.” Those are all projections. None of them would allow you to sense, for example, that the other person is looking for someone they think you might like to meet.

Empathy and compassion are two different phases in the arc toward altruism. Empathy simply means “I sense how you feel.” Compassion means “I feel with you enough to be moved to help.”

In this day and age we are tuned out of the present reality by our cell phones, Blackberries, being locked in to our email, and we miss the human moment—we miss the opportunity for attending to what’s going on with the other person, and responding as needed. When our attention gets captured by all these gadgets, we may feel like we’re in touch with someone at a distance while we’re completely indifferent to the person right next to us.

It’s self-preoccupation that keeps us from noticing what others need in the first place. So the enemy of compassion is preoccupation with the self.

There is a strong relationship between maximal cognitive efficiency and a person’s emotional state. When people are in an alert, motivated, and engaged state, the brain operates at a peak efficiency. In fact, when they’re joyous, they’re even more efficient. If a boss puts someone down or humiliates them, that threatens and undermines the person’s neural ability to be at their best. So the boss has to understand that they’re partly responsible for the other person’s very brain state and subsequent inability to do better. There is also a power factor: emotions are most contagious from the most powerful person in a group outward. One study shows that people ruminate about negative statements from their boss far more than they remember positive ones. Which means that a small dose of negative feedback gets magnified in your own mind, and can have great power because something coming from this powerful person in your life is amplified emotionally.

That one person simply holding someone’s hand, or maybe just being a calm presence, can have a powerful biological effect both emotionally and physiologically. For people who are in very vulnerable, extremely precarious health situations, it might have clinical consequences, too. But apart from that, just in terms of how a person experiences their illness, a calm, loving presence can make a huge difference. This doesn’t cure the disease; it eases the suffering the disease brings. Mindfulness and other meditation practice are things we can do for ourselves. But the interconnections of the social brain suggest that we can then bring our ease of mind to other people. Not just in some metaphorical way, but actually, in hard scientific terms, through emotional contagion. If you have a loved one who is suffering, and you yourself are calm, equanimous, and loving, your presence is going to help them. It’s more than just a nice thing to do; it’s an effective thing to do.

Neural interconnection may partly explain the tradition in Asian cultures of darshan, simply being in the presence of a realized being. People go to be with someone who has stabilized in an equanimous, loving awareness. And because the social brain makes their state of mind contagious to anyone in their presence, those beings transmit a taste of their mind-state to those around them. So the point of darshan is just going to be in that presence, because you come away with a bit of what they have.

Neuron-illustration-by-Medical-University-of-Vienna (1)