Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Afflictions of the Ego : Part - 2

Sathariel, Angel of Deception - by Peter Mohrbacher

5.    Sloth

The Mind often tries to save energy and effort by instructing the organism to relax or sleep. This tendency is also seen in humans as an Egoic process. Whenever there is no need to act, no urgency or threat, a slowness takes over the mind and the person loses all desire to act. This is laziness or sloth. Such a person is letting his primitive energy saving programs to take over him. It is alright once in a while, we all need downtime once in a while, but soon this becomes a problem as it becomes a habit. The laziness starts showing up in everyday acts.

A lazy person often covers up this behaviour by making up excuses and sometimes lying. Needless to say, the inactivity and intentional avoidance of actions results in failure to accomplish anything significant. A lazy person achieves nothing most of the time. This has a secondary effect of throwing the person into depression. Sloth makes a person suffer sooner or later. Not only the person suffers himself but also makes others suffer, especially when others depend on him for work, such as his employer.

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Sloth is an Egoic process which had some use in the ancient time, when it assisted in the survival. Energy saving by slowing down the activities when not really needed is a good strategy, but in modern times a person needs to act even after his stomach is filled and there is no immediate threat to survival. Actually most of our actions begin only after the basic needs are taken care of. So the ancient programs of sloth need to be terminated if you want to achieve something.

How to do that? Well first one needs to realize that he is lazy. If most of your tasks remain incomplete, if you have a tendency to procrastinate, if you plan but never act, if you are always late for anything, etc. then realize that sloth has taken over you. Now you can start the opposite behaviour knowingly and intentionally. The root of it all is the choice we make when presented with an option to act or not to act, become aware at that instant and choose to act, the action will follow. You will find that the pleasure, satisfaction and peace you get when you finish a task, motivates you to come out of laziness. Now the Ego gets a bigger and better pleasure to latch on and the sloth turns into activity.

There is no kind of idleness by which we are so easily seduced as that which dignifies itself by the appearance of business.
- Samuel Johnson

Sloth also affects a seeker, when he is seen sleeping instead of meditating, he is seen running after distractions instead of practicing. Whenever his mind is forced to think intensely or whenever a high level of intelligence is demanded, such a person tries to avoid the heavy mental task. Sloth is the reason people avoid learning anything new. It demands too much mental work. If you are a seeker, laziness will surely halt you on your path.

For the diligent a week has seven days, for the slothful seven tomorrows.
 - Polish Proverb

6.    Envy

When in a group a person is confronted with individuals who are better than him in some ways and this is perceived as a threat to his own survival. The natural reaction to the situation is competition and person tries to outperform competitors by any means possible. This is the familiar struggle for survival. Others doing better than himself obviously means less chances of survival and procreation for himself and he enters into a survival race with others. The person tries to gain what others have by any means possible and perceives the people who have more resources or better traits than himself as his potential enemies. This is an automatic reaction and evokes automatic action via programs that are a part of Egoic tendencies.  These are felt as an extreme lack, a feeling of inadequacy, a fear mixed with some amount of anger and hate. This is the colourful emotion of jealousy or envy.

Jealousy is the suspicion of one’s own inferiority.
- Emily Post 

Competition is healthy, it is a positive trait, this behaviour has kept us alive in ancient times.   This behaviour becomes an affliction only when one fails to achieve desired results. The competition turns into jealousy, an unhealthy condition, which causes a lot of suffering. So if your friend has a bigger car it becomes a cause of suffering, it makes you feel inferior, lacking. If a woman is better looking than you then she becomes an object of envy. Your Ego senses a lower chance for mating and procreation in her presence. In extreme cases envy can result in fights and even murders. The reason can be anything, better clothes and jewellery to a bigger country the other is ruling.

How to get rid of jealousy? By knowing that it is just a program, nothing else and seeing it clearly, not acting on it. Envy is provoked by hidden desires, and by seeing that someone else got theirs fulfilled and yours did not. Find out the desire, see where it comes from. How useless and insignificant it is. If you are a seeker then you don't need what others have, moreover you want to get rid of what you have. Your competition is with your own self, no one else.

 All envy is proportionate to desire; we are uneasy at the attainments of another, according as we think our own happiness would be advanced by the addition of that which he withholds from us.
- Samuel Johnson

7.    Pride

Whenever a person acts in a manner that produces favourable results, the Ego generates a reward. It likes to take credit for the fruits of its actions. It feels elated, becomes stronger. This is the familiar feeling of pride or hubris. It causes more such actions as automatic learning happens. Pride is often seen in the form of superiority complex and over confidence. It not only makes one do foolish things, it also makes others suffer as the afflicted person turns into a mean and selfish creature, forcing his way onto others.

A vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance.
- Spinoza

Pride is a social tendency. It has nothing to do with the person himself. Whenever an action is favourable which is not directly related to the survival, the person feels satisfaction, not pride. Pride is a result of Ego declaring its superiority, not very unlike the winning howl of an animal after a battle with his rival. It causes suffering for the afflicted person whenever others don't behave in a way he expects. Pride demands respect and even forces it out of others.  Pride results in stubbornness, control of others, causing problems for others. A loss of pride or a fear of losing it makes one suffer too. The Ego punishes a loser with the negative emotions of guilt and shame. A beautiful and strong body, wealth, caste, religion, race or a PhD degree, whatever is the cause of your pride, it is also a cause of your fall.

Fools take to themselves the respect that is given to their office.
- Aesop

One can get rid of pride by seeing it as a social tendency of the Ego. Humility, not vanity, is a sign of success, power and wisdom. Actions happen, no one does them. Fruits happen, they are not in anyone’s control. There is no one there to take credit of any success. A seeker is not interested in society or in showing others how great he is, he is interested in just himself, his own Self.

8.    Deceit 

Some creatures learnt very early in their evolution that hiding food from others in the group is more favourable for them, in terms of survival. So is pretending to be dead (seen as an automatic action of fainting). Giving out a predator threat call when faced with a stronger rival also helps a lot. Showing off in presence of a potential mate has obvious advantages. These behaviours later evolved into Egoic tendencies, that collectively we can call deceit.

The men that women regard as most enchanting are the most audacious prevaricators; the men they loathe most fiercely are those who tell them the truth.
- Hal Morgan

Such behaviours range from simple camouflage in animals to sophisticated manipulations of political and religious leaders, in case of humans. When expressed via speech they become lies. When expressed via body they become fake emotions. When seen in businesses and jobs, they become dishonesty. When seen in relations they are cheating or disloyalty. The Egoic behaviours of deceit are so common that they are accepted as "normal" by everyone. Any human interaction can contain deceit, and most do. A deceit is usually first assumption when we meet a stranger, because that’s what we encounter mostly. Honesty and truthfulness is as rare as gold.

An immediate consequence of the act of deceit is a loss of trust for the deceitful person, a repulsion from him and an avoidance of any further interaction. And this becomes a cause of suffering for that person. Ego incites deceit and then punishes the deceiver if he fails to conceal it, via the negative emotions of guilt and shame. People engage in deceitful behaviour of one or other kind only to gain some advantages in the matter of survival. Most do not feel the need to deceive others unless they are desperate. However, there are some, who would do that just to feel smarter. Deceiving others gives them an Egoic high. It is like an addiction.
Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.
- Shakespeare

If you are afflicted with it how can you correct it? It starts at the level of thoughts. Whenever you need to act, you will be presented with some thoughts and impulses that push you into fake behaviour, the justification is instant gratification. You will also find options to act truthfully and wisely even though you will see that those lead to no favourable results or may even lead to unfavourable ones sometimes. Always choose the latter, consciously and intentionally.

Truthful thoughts lead to truthful actions and peace of mind. You will gain favour of truthful people and friends. You will soon find that it is much easier to survive truthfully compared to the deceitful way. Truth brings a sense of lightness into the personality, a truthful person radiates joy and happiness all the time. Compare that to a liar, who is always fearful inside and lives a fake life, eternally burdened with the guilt and consequences of his dishonest acts.

The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.
- Nietzsche

For a seeker it becomes even more necessary to examine his thoughts and actions and to weed out any signs of deceit. Path of knowledge is a path of truth. One cannot hope to progress on it when one is full of lies. Since a seeker is not very concerned with society or people, he finds it easy to avoid deceitful behaviour with others, but some do get trapped into the lies they tell themselves. Unfounded beliefs are such lies. You will find that most of the stuff you believe has an origin in Egoic tendencies. The Ego hides in the seemingly sophisticated ideas and concepts that you are proud of. If you are fearful of letting go of your beliefs and get all angry and violent when someone tries to show you otherwise, know that you are in the grip of Ego.
God hath given you one face, and you make yourself another.
― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

9.    Attachments

Whenever a need is met, the means by which it is fulfilled is deeply impressed on the Mind. We tend to remember the agent which was instrumental in fulfilling it. We tend to use it again and again. This forms a bond with that agent, whether it is an object or a person or even a set of beliefs. This creates a dependency, a conditioning and a tendency. This forms another part of the Ego, the tendency to attach to anything that can fulfil a need.
Attachment comes from a perception of lack - all comes from fear.
- Yvette Soler

Attachments are based on fear, not on likes. The fear is of losing it, which obviously means no more fulfilment of the need. So the Ego holds on to it. If the need is related to the survival, the attachment is stronger. Since fear is the main cause, you will find that some people hold onto things or others even when they dislike them. They complain and suffer, but do not let go of it.
If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to all others, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism.
- Erich Fromm

As it happens, nothing stays for long. When the instrument is gone, the attached person suffers, not knowing what else to do, he falls into depression. The suffering is even more when the now vanished object or person was also a source of pleasure and joy. Many people get habitually attached to their own body, youth, intellect, achievements, abilities and what not. They also derive their sense of identity from these, so the attachment deepens considerably. The attachment also causes the person to live in past and he usually finds it difficult to enjoy anything new.
Suffering does not befall him who is without attachment to names and forms.
- Buddha

A seeker understands the impermanent nature of everything. He uses, enjoys and appreciates objects and socializes or forms friendships with people, but does not form bonds. A seeker is detached from everything, even from himself. Any kind of dependency is guaranteed to cause suffering, unhappiness and inconvenience, sooner or later. Attachment is an opposite of freedom, it is a bondage which no wise man would want to have. A seeker remains detached, fully knowing that he is a visitor in this world and just like everything else he will soon vanish too.
Be aware of the ephemeral nature of material things. Lose your attachment to them.
- Shui-ch'ing Tzu

10.    Possessiveness

The Ego not only forms bonds and attachments, it goes one step further and claims the thing as its own. This seemingly ensures exclusive use of the possessed object for himself. This has obvious survival advantages, and hence such behaviour has turned into an Egoic tendency. The Ego defends the possessed thing just like it defends itself. We all possess a body during this short human experience, and it is natural to be possessive about it. Most of us possess a shelter and some resources, and thats ok too. The role of the Ego should end here. This tendency becomes an affliction when one starts possessing people, animals, vehicles, objects - small and big, etc.
Attachment is the root cause of all misery. Possessiveness is nourishment for the ego.
- Rajneesh

The Ego of the possessive person fires up all its defences as soon as someone else touches his possessions. He becomes instantly angry, fearful, jealous or violent. This is his suffering, but possessiveness is more troublesome when compared to simple attachments, as it makes others suffer too. He is usually a miser, afraid of sharing anything with others and not infrequently perceives others as threats, everyone seems to be after his possessions, trying to rob him of his precious stuff. It is easy to possess an object, and animals can be caged or tamed, but things become ugly when the object of possession is another person. A possessive person erects barriers for others to prevent them from escaping. The person trying to possess others uses all lowly tricks of the Ego including emotional blackmail, threats, deceit and manipulations.

Care and responsibility are constituent elements of love, but without respect for and knowledge of the beloved person, love deteriorates into domination and possessiveness.
- Erich Fromm

How to get rid of such odd behaviour? Know that the cause of possessiveness is fear. Get rid of the fear and let go of the possessions. A wise person knows well that one cannot possess anything at all, everything and everyone parts company and we do not take anything from this world when we depart, not even one atom. It is wise to use and enjoy things till they last and it is wise to share joy and appreciate people till they stay. When you are on a path you do not want to possess anything at all, you are trying to get rid of everything instead. The possessions, including humans are a big burden for a seeker, they slow him down considerably. Advanced seekers do not possess even a house, they keep moving from place to place. Not only they ensure that they are not attached to anything or anyone, they ensure that no one gets attached to them as well. And of course they resist all attempts to get possessed by others. The final (perhaps final) goal is to not to possess even a body and to be free from Mind too.
But people find it very difficult to be a loving person, so they create a relationship - and befool that way that 'Now I am a loving person because I am in a relationship.' And the relationship may be just one of monopoly, possessiveness, exclusiveness.
- Rajneesh

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