by Dennis Bradford
in emotional well-being
With one exception, all human beings are dysfunctional.This is why it is normal to suffer (to be unhappy or discontent or dissatisfied). If you are suffering, please do not conclude that there is something inherently wrong with you. There isn’t. You are normal.
Sages are the important exception. Sages are few and far between. Everyone understands this. When I mention becoming a sage to most people, they become incredulous. Who? Me?
We are dysfunctional to the extent that we suffer from ego delusion.
To suffer from a delusion is to think that something is real when there is nothing there at all. So they are more serious than illusions, which occur when something real is miscategorized such as when someone who is colorblind misperceives something’s color. What, though, is ego?
If you ask yourself seriously the critically important question “Who am I?”, you are likely to answer by pointing to your ego. Whatever you identify with becomes ego. Unless you are already a sage, you typically identify with such things as your body, your mind, and your emotions, in other words, with your experiences. More abstractly, you may identify with your family, school, sex, race, economic group, social rank, or nation.
Notice that all such identifications separate: your body from my body, your thoughts from my thoughts, your emotions from my emotions, your family from my family, and so on.
The separation is between what may be thought of as the “content” of our lives. The content of your life is your experiences, behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and so on and they are different from the content of my life.
Here’s a critical question to ask yourself: are you really the content of your life?
You may think that you are. Unfortunately, most people live their whole lives under that insidious delusion.
That is unfortunate because separation is the cause of suffering. To suffer from that conceptual chimera is to condemn yourself to perpetual suffering. Since suffering is optional, that is foolish.
Winston Churchill: “Remember the story of the Spanish prisoner. For many years he was confined in a dungeon . . . One day it occurred to him to push the door of his cell. It was open; and it had never been locked.”
Yi-ch’ao: “People lock themselves inside a house of delusions. But they’re only delusions. They can leave anytime. Actually there is no house to leave. There’s not even any leaving.”
Whenever you identify with some content, you are separating it from everything else and withholding it from the world. Eckhard Tolle: “Whenever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world.”
How can you determine the extent of your ego delusion? The more you experience infatuation (greed, acquisitiveness, grasping) and hostility (anger) in thought, speech, and action, the more deluded you are.
What’s the way out? It’s through present-moment awareness, which fosters clarity and insight.
Sages have gone beyond the content of their lives and live without separation.
You are free to change trajectories in an instant at any time. You are the only obstacle to your becoming a sage.
When you get sick enough of suffering and being dysfunctional, why not decide to liberate yourself?
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