If there ever was a dragon that must be killed, it is the Ego Monster. This creation - which is a figment of your imagination - is the thing that stands between you and God and between you and happiness.
You might be thinking,
"What is she saying? It's sin that stands between God and me, not ego. So I have an ego. It isn't going to stop me from getting to Heaven. Besides, psychologists say you have to have a HEALTHY EGO, which means having good self esteem. Do you want me to get rid of my self esteem? How's that going to bring me closer to God or happiness?"
In the last article, I stated an important spiritual fact: That YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE AFFIRMED BY PEOPLE IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY. It's a child's program; being affirmed. It's what you need in babyhood and before you become spiritually mature. Psychology does not go higher than this earth. It does not extend to God. It does not recognize there is a God. It says that our "Superego" is the part of us where we ENVISION a Godlike Person - but it does not ever acknowledge that THERE IS A GOD. I tell you that psychology cannot bring you to God (the psychology taught in schools like Freudian, Jungian and so forth) and cannot give you what God gives you. I've listened to people in the field and there are two main buzz words or ideas. One is:
"DON'T HURT A PERSON'S SELF ESTEEM," and the second is:
'YOU MUST BE AFFIRMED IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY.'
About self esteem. As I said in the last article, the way you're treated in childhood will determine how you feel. Badly treated, you feel bad then and sometimes throughout life. Properly treated you feel good then and later.
"Affirmation" is a way of boosting self esteem. When people affirm you, you feel good. Affirmation is saying to you or acting like you have value. This feels good. It makes you feel you DO have value. But there is a problem here. The problem is this: Affirmation from people and the world MAY BE A TRAP. It may cause you to forever be seeking the approval, applause and love of other people. You build up your self esteem, in other words, by being affirmed. And so, you are forever seeking people and situations to feed you - not the real you - but the EGO! There's the rub. This monster called ego is being fed. But you want this monster to go away. So how will it go away if it's being fed? It won't. It will stay as long as it's fed.
This explains how saints became saints. If you read the lives of the saints - of all religions - you will notice that almost all of them came from crucifying backgrounds. It seems that everything went wrong. There was suffering on all fronts and in all seasons. They suffered at home with poverty, neglect and misunderstanding. And they suffered in the world, at the hands of other people. They were not the most popular, but sometimes the least popular people in town. They were persecuted, slandered and misunderstood. Their sanctity, their holiness were in question. They were accused of sins they never committed; they were vilified.
Not so the popular, who are affirmed. They are looked up to, respected, thought well of, and they sometimes hold high positions. THEY HAVE THE WORLD'S RESPECT. Remember what Satan said to Jesus:
'I WILL GIVE YOU ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD AND THEIR GLORY, IF YOU WILL BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP ME.'
Of course, Jesus put him down and threw him out:
'THOU SHALT WORSHIP THE LORD THY GOD AND HIM ALONE SHALT THOU SERVE.'
Okay. Am I making my point? Are you getting it? Here you have the difference between two people. One is not affirmed but persecuted, and becomes a saint, and one is affirmed and not persecuted, and is NOT a saint. (How do I know he's not a saint?)
Another good question! You're smart! You're on the ball today!
Have you ever taken a good hard look at the popular and the powerful? Who do they serve? Do they champion UNPOPULAR causes? Do they stand on the side of the DOWNTRODDEN? Do they risk their lives and popularity by SPEAKING TRUTH THAT WILL MAKE OTHERS ANGRY? None of the above. There is a CODE OF THE WORLD AND THE WORLD KNOWS ITS OWN. THE WORLD, WHICH HAS ITS OWN PARTICULAR SPIRIT, IS FOR THE HERE AND NOW. IF YOU ARE FOR THE HERE AND NOW, THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD AND THEIR GLORY, THEN THE WORLD IS FOR YOU AND YOU ARE FOR THE WORLD, YOU ARE NOT FOR GOD.
Those who follow God are the poor and obscure. They were already thrown to the margins and they have a hard time leaving them. They stand in the byways and ghettos and tenements. Sometimes they do get famous. There have been famous saints:
Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Two of these were assassinated.
Have I put some holes in the argument that your self esteem must be built up by the world and that you must be affirmed by people? I believe I have and now I'll get to the punch line:
What you DO need is to be brought to God. You need to know WHO YOU ARE in God. You need to know YOU ARE NOT THE BODY BUT THE SPIRIT. You need to know that God is within you and powerful, and having a relationship with God is the only salvation and the only happiness. GOD IS HAPPINESS.
The PEOPLE OF GOD do not have to be affirmed by the world. They are God-affirmed and Self-affirmed. All good comes to them by their relationship with God. God is first, and God is trusted. The world and people are not trusted. God is sought daily for guidance and sustenance. Jesus said to the disciples:
"I HAVE BREAD YOU KNOW NOT OF."
"What is He talking about? What bread does He have?"
His bread, His sustenance, was the Spirit of God. He lived by the Spirit of God, not bread alone. (Remember also that famous line he said to the tempter that man does not live by bread alone.) Here Jesus was saying in so many words:
"The bread of this world is temporary...You do not live by it. You eat it and die...But the Bread of Eternal Life you eat and you Live....Do not struggle for the sustenance of this world because it is temporary." (This is not a direct quote but an inference.)
Now if we take these words of Our Lord and meditate on them, we could come to the conclusion that Jesus is also talking about the self esteem and affirmation of this world. Don't live by it. It is temporary. (After all, think how fickle this world is. One day, you are the President of the United States. Your name is Richard Nixon. Then they threaten to impeach you. You lose the support of the Congress and you have to resign. Now your name is Mud. You live under a shadow for the rest of your life. Your wife (maybe) dies from stress. You were big and famous, now you're infamous. So much for the glory of the world!....By the way, Richard Milhouse Nixon is a great saint in Heaven and one of my spiritual guides. He is my #1 helper in the interpretation of dreams.)
The world cannot give you life; only God can. Your family and friends cannot give you eternal life; only God can. Why do you worry so much about them? You may say to me,
"Okay. You made your point and I agree. After all, I am a spiritual person myself and I see the logic and reason here. I agree with you. But there is a problem. How do I survive? My survival tools include my family, friends and this world. If I lose all that, when disaster strikes, I may be all alone
holding a bag - an empty one."
And I answer that just as you are spiritual, I also understand the world. I am not telling anyone to damn the world, their family and friends. What I am saying is not to hunger and thirst for them. Don't sell out your soul for them. Don't give to them what belongs to God. I, like you, live in this world and have family and friends. I try to be decent to everyone and I give the world it's due. I render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. I do what I have to do to survive, but I will never, under any circumstances, compromise my relationship with God for the lesser factors. This attitude has been with me from birth. I have paid for it and won. In the end, although I suffered greatly, God has endowed me with both spiritual blessings and temporal ones. Doesn't God take care of His/Her own? Do you think God will leave you in the gutter? After all, God IS prosperity. I tell you that if you PURSUE riches, you will have dust in your mouth in the end. But if you pursue God, God just may give you riches as a gift. You pursue fame for its own sake and it will eat you alive. But being important to God is all you need.
People of the world reap a bitter harvest. They live in the ego, and this ego is a monster. Let me tell you about ego. It is an illusion, delusion, a lie. It makes you the center of the Universe, and there is no room for Love. There is only NEED. And this need is so great it torments you. It's like you need the whole world to fill you up, and as you get filled up little by little, you just crave more. Like a rich person, you add and add unto yourself until your big house can't hold all your possessions. Now you have fame, then you have fortune. IT'S NEVER ENOUGH. It's a disease where the more you have, the more it takes to satisfy you. What is the cure for this disease?
The cure is to get rid of ego and all it's ideas, feelings and desires.
It's your second biggest enemy after the devil. In fact, the devil can't get hold of you if you don't have an ego. He will try, but it will be difficult. Imagine yourself living in a cave or a hut, just surviving. I know, some people will consider this is the life of a bum. But you do it for spiritual reasons. Now the devil comes to you and says you should go out into the world for fame and fortune and glory. It won't work, because you are happy in your cave. You live in the presence of God. People of the world who are caught up in it can be fooled very easily by the devil. God help them if they get the fame and fortune they long for! It may just destroy them!
Releasing the ego is a liberating thing. You no longer have to compete, because you have removed yourself from the playing field. You have moved to the higher bough not by pride, but by humbling yourself. People insult you and you are not hurt, because what they said is not about you, it is about your flesh, but you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit. In the Spirit they can't touch you. They insult you by your past, but you are not there, you are in the Eternal. If you have sinned, it's over. It's forgiven. You do not have to be ashamed. Being in the ego is the most dangerous and vulnerable place to be, but being in Spirit is the safest and strongest place to be. You are invincible there.
PITFALLS OF THE EGO
One of the pitfalls of being an ego-person is that you can be manipulated. Without ego you're safe, with ego your a shoo-in for control. How? Easy.
If you want to be stroked, praised, applauded and veins pumped full of love, whoever does that for you wins your favor. Then your heart being open to them, they can control your moods. One day - BAM! The person drops you, dumps you, maybe even insults you and you're in the Pit.
Think of ego as a balloon that you are holding and it represents you. It starts to lose air as you hold it and you can't quite get it buoyant yourself. You wait for others to come by and blow it up. Whoever blows it up makes you feel good, and whoever makes you feel good controls you to some extent. It might be a little bit or it might be so much that you feel like killing yourself when they reject you.
Do you want to be controlled or do you want to be free? I pledge to you, as sure as the Sun rises and sets, that as long as you have ego you can be controlled. It isn't always done overtly. And you don't always react consciously. Your family controls you as long as you crave their love. They may not even want you. They might hate you or dislike you. But as long as you want them to love you, they are controlling your emotions. Most people want lovers. As long as they do and don't have a lovelife, they feel lonely, depressed, bored, left out and so on. But renounce the lovelife.
Announce to yourself,
"I am happy by myself" and you're on the road to being happy.
If you say you are miserable, you are. If you claim happiness you can get there.
It's no use telling these things to most people. They just go on and on and on. Buddha said that the lives one person has to lead before they learn - the skeletons could top Mount Everest. They can't let go of flesh.
The factors that control your emotions and moods are what controls you. You could be all alone, but the things you want control you. The person you love who doesn't love you makes you miserable. This is control. The family that ignores you and makes you feel left out controls you. The friends who use you and go away control you. All these people control you as long as you want them.
Then there's things. Sometimes we use things to get love. We feel if we were rich, people would love us. (They won't... they've love our money.) If we were famous they'd love us. (They don't...they just like to hang out with "important" people.) Most people want fame and fortune not for itself alone, but for the "love" it gets them. But this "love" is not real. It's false, it's fake and disappears quickly.
Rasa Von Werder
September 19, 2004