Thursday, 29 September 2016

Afflictions of the Ego : Part - 1

Ego being a part of the Mind, gets afflicted with certain disorders, just like the Mind. It does whatever it does naturally and perfectly, but these operations may not be desirable if you wish to progress on your path. If they stop your progress or retard you, they are seen as afflictions. Many people live their entire life afflicted with these disorders, and suffer or cause suffering for others, but it may not matter if they have no goals. They are on the path of evolution through suffering.
If one is consciously and deliberately trying to walk a path, it becomes necessary to identify and remove these afflictions. It depends how deep one is into the pit of Ego, but sometimes its easy to get out of it. Usually the suffering caused by these afflictions is enough motivation, because the suffering inflicted by the Ego is huge and brutal when compared to the suffering caused by dysfunctions of the higher Mind.

The degree of one's emotions varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts.
- Bertrand Russell 

Listen on YouTube

These afflictions are mostly felt and known in the form of emotions (internal actions). Egoic programs and internal actions lie below the intellect in the mental hierarchy. This can be easily seen from the proximity of the emotions to the body. Emotions cause visible facial expressions, intense sensations in various regions of the body and major body movements, compared to intellectual activity, which causes no or very subtle movements (maybe ocular ones at most). Emotions even affect the involuntary functions of the body, such as heart rate, breathing, and also secretion of hormones and other regulatory or inhibitory chemicals inside the body.  So one can conclude that emotions have a more direct neural connection to the body, hinting that these are primitive structures.

We have discussed emotions before (in a more positive light). You will find me doing an analytical treatment of obvious and common sensical behaviours and actions of people afflicted with Egoic tendencies. You may wonder why do I need to state the obvious, even uneducated people know the signs of anger, fear or jealousy. This is intentional, one needs to study them objectively, see them as they are. Emotions do not happen to you, they happen in you. You do not emote, you merely witness them. Knowing them well helps to be free from them. Knowledge of the emotions fires up as soon as the emotions themselves fire up. This provides you with an option to see them clearly, and not to be them instead.

The emotions aren't always immediately subject to reason, but they are always immediately subject to action.
- William James

1. Fear

Fear is healthy in small doses, it keeps us alive, when there is an overdose, it is a poison. The most common fears are that of death, unknown, loss, ridicule, loneliness and failure. Fear motivates us to act in order to reduce these risks, and when a person acts out of fear, even when there are no risks or the danger is insignificant, it becomes an affliction. For a person afflicted with fear, most of the dangers are imagined ones. A single bad experience is enough to send a person in fear mode over and over, for no real reason. Actions arising out of irrational fear resemble borderline madness. Some people do fall into madness just because of terrors. A person afraid of death never lives his life fully. One afraid of unknown never explores or learns. One afraid of loss, never enjoys the gains. One afraid of ridicule never does anything new and bold. One afraid of loneliness sticks to whomever he can, even if it means a bad relation. A person afraid of failure never tries difficult tasks. Fear makes one live a suboptimal life. Fear also gives rise to anger and violence, a fearful person has no control on himself, he can cause harm on impulse.

Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.
- Unknown

If you are on a path, if becomes a must to get rid of fears. It should happen naturally, as knowledge destroys fears. The first thing one should do is, recognize that one is fearful, then find the cause of it, analyse one’s own actions and affirm to terminate the irrational actions and thoughts which arise out of fear. See it clearly, how Ego operates and causes fear. Fear of death is destroyed when one realizes there is no death, only a change. Ego is a mechanism to avoid death, it knows nothing more. Fear of unknown disappears when one sees the value of knowing. New knowledge resides in the country of unknown. Ego finds safety in the known, which is a very narrow area, and prevents one from exploring away from its little safe zone. Fear of loss, which is mostly material loss, can be overcome by realizing that we are not here to hoard, nothing goes with us, we gain nothing at all while we are in the world. Ego tries to hold on to the stuff, especially the things that provide pleasure, and makes the person a slave of objects.

Fear of ridicule disappears when one finds that masses are mostly ignorant and ordinary, they know nothing much and ridicule anything new or out of ordinary, different or better. Ego prefers conformation and safety of herds. It prevents all actions that venture too far from actions of the crowd. One stuck with the crowd does not progress beyond the crowd mentality. Fear of loneliness goes away when one realizes that dependency on others creates only suffering, the fulfilment lies in letting go. Ego likes to form bonds, for the benefits or safety they provide, it sticks to them even when they become bondage and cause suffering. Fear of failure is overcome when one sees that failure is just a lesson, by failing one learns what not to do, which is a step towards success. A person operating out of Ego prefers to not to take up anything new or difficult, any failure “hurts the Ego”, and the person stops attempting altogether.

Knowing that one is afflicted with fear, finding the cause and ignorance behind it and replacing it with knowledge, cures it. One needs to clearly see the Egoic processes behind the fear via deep introspection and override them with more logical actions. I say logical actions, because there is a very fine line between bravery and stupidity. Once the fear is out of the way, knowing fully what risks to take helps a lot. Fearlessness does not mean carelessness. It also does not mean more physical strength or weapons or being more violent. A fearless person does not need these crutches, he remains calm and steady under all circumstances and by thoughtful actions, avoids dangerous situations.

2. Anger

Anger is the complementary of fear, instead of avoidance and fleeting behaviour, it provokes violence and aggression. Anger is caused by fear most of the time. An angry person is afraid of something and his Ego, after evaluating the chances, fires up the anger in order to avoid the fear.

Anger is justified when the targeted person is stupid, unreasonable or unfair. Some people understand only the language of anger, they operate from Ego themselves mostly and are incapable of engaging in rational acts. Other than such rare occasions, anger always causes harm, violence and ruined relations. Extreme anger results in fights and murders. Sometimes anger becomes habitual and such people are known as “short tempered”. If anger produces some results a few times (which it does because people generally avoid an angry person), the Ego considers it as a winning strategy and uses it on everything. Of course, this is borderline madness and such a person appears angry all the time. People obey him, or become yes-men before him, not because they respect him, they just want to avoid him. This enforces the angry nature of the person even more.

No one is as angry as the person who is wrong.
- Proverb

Using anger to get what you want, or getting angry on hair trigger is a major affliction of the Ego. It is intense, and some people get addicted to its intensity, just like a drug, anger provides them a high. They are always seen looking for trouble, searching for someone they can fight with. Even educated people with respectable professions are seen doing it, especially when they are in a position of power. Anger gives rise to irrational actions and causes major suffering. Actions taken under the anger linger for a life-time, their consequences are far reaching.

The cure for anger is patience. Being patient and light hearted prevents Ego from triggering this primitive program. Remaining conscious of ones Ego and understanding the behaviour of others helps a lot. Often people like to trigger anger in others just for fun. When you know the games people play, you stop being a puppet. You don’t get angry when someone wants you to be. Not taking everything seriously, and knowing that not all situations can be favourable for you, helps to prevent anger. A seeker knows that the life is a learning experience, and the unfavourable situations are the ones that teach us most. A seeker never loses temper, even in extreme conditions. He is well aware of the consequences, anger is a huge price to pay in terms of them.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
- Chinese proverb

You got angry and did something stupid, how to fix it? An apology fixes it most of the time. If you caused harm, mend it. Being sorry is not a sign of weakness, that is Ego terminology. Only a brave man can say sorry, weak resorts to more anger. Relations ruined by anger are like a broken glass, they cannot be glued together and made anew. A wise person apologizes and moves on, lesson learnt.

An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason.
- Publilius Syrus

3. Lust

A healthy desire for procreation is a necessity, as this is what keeps the human race going. So when does this desire turn into an affliction of lust? When it becomes the sole occupation of the Mind. A person afflicted with lust is entirely taken over by it and his actions are directed towards fulfilment of it by all possible means. Instead of being a tiny part of the life, lust becomes his whole life. The nature of lust is such that the mere act of fulfilling it enhances it, and so it becomes difficult if not impossible for the person to come out of it.

Procreation is an ugly and hideous act, if seen as it is (and giving birth is repulsive to watch too). If there were no pleasure in it, no one would do it. The Mind has done a great job coupling the coupling act with pleasure, this ensures procreation at all costs. Reproduction is a need of the body, it is the pleasure that becomes an affliction, not the act itself. The lust is nothing but an addiction to the pleasure. A mate is just a means to provide this pleasure. Of course, it causes major suffering for those who are addicted to it, when they do not get it. It sends them in depression, and the life becomes a vacuum, because they have no other interest, no other occupation.

When you can’t sell even a water bottle without provoking lust in the consumer, you know that humanity is in a pit that is really deep. Lust is the preoccupation of humanity. Hedonistic societies encourage lust, but needless to say, it is never enough, and the lustful acts turn into perversions. The list of partners and marriages grows longer and longer, for relations based on lust do not last, thanks to P2P. Lust deforms a man into less than an animal. In cultures that suppress lust, it comes out in the form of violence, rapes, child abuse and other odd behaviours like incest and prostitution. In societies where pre-marital sex is not approved, most of the marriages are a result of lust. It never works, as lust fades away or demands more. Decisions of life taken on the basis of lust makes one suffer for his whole life, and make others suffer too.

We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he “wants a woman”. Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes).
- C. S. Lewis
How to cure it? Realize that procreation is a small aspect of the life, not the whole of your life. If your goal is procreation, do it and be done with it. If your goal is pleasure, know that it is only a carrot that Ego dangles in front of your nose to make you do what it wants. Know that when you have such goals, your Ego is your master. Make bigger goals, even animals can procreate. Humans need somewhat respectable goals. Be aware when the lustful tendencies of the Ego take over. If you have the means, satisfy it, else just watch it come and go. One need not act on it. Again awareness is the key. When one acts on lust, it grows stronger. This is just standard entrainment of the brain.

4. Greed 

Aka gluttony. Food is a necessity for the body and the body has great mechanism to store the excess, when the food is abundant. It sends pleasure signals to the brain when rewarded with nutritious food. The pleasure causes more such behaviour and the body gets nourishment. The pleasure is also a cause of feeding excessively, even when there is no shortage of food. This turns into the affliction of greed. A person afflicted by it not only becomes fat but also has a fat Ego.

A greedy person is driven by nothing but food. Most of his day is spent in eating and excreting. After finishing a full meal, he eagerly awaits his next one, while killing time on sweets and snacks. A greedy person is easily recognizable by his huge, out of proportion body. This is not only ugly, it is unhealthy and such a person is soon gripped by various diseases. It also has some unintended consequences, as such a person finds it difficult to get a mate, and his life is nothing but frustration and loneliness, which he tries to rid of simply by eating even more. Food addiction is more common in cultures that are affluent, but even poor suffer from it as some bodies have a genetic tendency to store fat and it doesn’t take too much food to get obese, especially when there is no ample physical exercising and the lack of food only encourages greed.

Poverty wants much; but avarice, everything.
- Publilius Syrus
Greed has anyway nothing to do with food, it is an addiction to the pleasure and fulfilment the food provides. It is also an avoidance behaviour because food makes one feel safe and secure. An insecure person often resorts to overeating just to compensate. A greedy person is easy to manipulate, all you need is some food. Such a person is also gullible. A fat man is often assumed to be stupid by others, they find him repulsive, and this causes social anxiety. There is a pleasure of food, and the consequence is endless suffering.

Greed spills into hoarding behaviour, where one hoards money or objects instead of food. Ego sees them as its own part and engages in the very same activity – to have more and more of it. As is obvious, the race to earn money and hoard stuff is a major occupation of humanity. Even after the needs are met, greed continues. It causes harm to others, uneven distribution of resources, and causes harm to the greedy person most. Such a person never finds peace, the greed for more and more keeps him running after stuff. This behaviour is encouraged by others, especially his dependents, because it provides them more. This also results in more security apparently, but a greedy person is always afraid of loss, is full of doubt and distrust and treats others in belittling fashion.

Even the most beautiful scenery is no longer assured of our love after we have lived in it for three months, and some distant coast attracts our avarice: possessions are generally diminished by possession.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

How to be free of it? Realize that we eat to live, not live to eat. Once the stomach is full, forget about the food. If eating is your goal in life, there is something seriously wrong here. Egoic tendencies rule when you have no path. Realize that one need not accumulate more than one needs for a comfortable life. Nothing goes with us. The shiny stuff provides no respect or “status”, it only accumulates a crowd of greedy people around you. Wealth does not attract love, only gold diggers. A simple and minimalist life is all one needs to progress swiftly on his path.

Some people employ fasting as a method to fight greed for food. Often they impatiently wait whole day for the food and eat voraciously afterwards or when not fasting. Such extremes cause more harm than good. One only needs a balanced diet, twice a day, it is simpler and smarter way. Some people use donations as a method to get rid of hoarding behaviour. But often they come back with pockets full of pride and hubris. People bow to those who provide, and this is enough to blow the Ego of the donor to gigantic sizes. Anonymous donations are an alternative, but some still manage to acquire a “godfather complex” or “public servant crown” as a result. Ego comes back from the back door. You can’t trick it for long. Direct way is the best way, just stop hoarding and let others have what they deserve. A seeker does not engage in earning and donating it to the poor to fix their poverty, there is not enough time for that. Fix a leaf in a forest, and you have achieved nothing. Know that it is of prime importance to fix yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment