Freeing Yourself from Entanglements
After months of relationship stress a friend of mine broke up with his girlfriend. He felt liberated and full of life again
… for about a week.
“I’m not sure I made the right decision,” he said with a have-seen-it-all-before tone in his voice. “Perhaps it’s just my ego? You know, ego not wanting to be unhappy, always seeking the easy way out when encountering difficulties, always looking for happy moments forever creating division: happy/blessed or unhappy/damned. If I submit to ego’s demands to always escape unhappy moments, I surely will remain entangled in its web that only serves to keep me stuck.”
What was he struggling with?
He was mulling over two simple but not-right-now-satisfying choices:
a) to stop suffering by separating from the apparent cause of his unhappiness (his girlfriend) and going for the fairly effortless but short-lived change, knowing that suffering would surely return later in a new disguise (because it always does),
b) to stop suffering (no matter its cause) by overcoming and hopefully in time eliminating ego’s tendency to create division (duality) that leads to suffering. This, he believed, would be the more arduous experience of a less certain but perhaps longer lasting change, but if he failed it would mean a lifelong learning adventure with his girlfriend.
Clinging to Ego for a Sense of ‘me’
The mind tends to complicate things in life that are very simple and easy.
Is it really a question whether the ego wants to escape from an unhappy situation, always grasping for more, never being satisfied? Or a question of the ego always choosing the least difficult option, trying for an easy way out? Or, if we follow ego’s insatiable demands for more and for better, do we really remain entangled in its web and continue to seek and never find?
Questions of ego have meaning only if one has already supposed that an ego (or “I”) exists and that it is concerned only with itself and the relief of suffering. Therefore, entanglement (or whatever one may call this strange state of confusion) exists well before the ego starts to run and play with ego. Whether ego really exists or not seems to be less important than the fact that many believe it to be true.
Strangely enough, despite its dubious and fragile nature, clinging to ego and its substantive duality puts us at ease. Our individual existence and uniqueness (“I” and “you”) are thus acknowledged (as if we need proof of our madness) and not even a shred of common sense or rational analysis can prove us wrong.
What’s more and far more difficult for us to grasp or understand though is that our belief in the ego causes an impediment to perceiving reality, people, things, and situations as they really are on the level of relativity and in a non-discerning neutral state.
Unhappiness and suffering are real but whether this is always so or only under the power of a craving ego is perhaps the more important question to ask and a more simple and direct way to resolve the dilemma of the ego and its suffering.
Sri Ramana Maharashi once told a curious but uncertain seeker: “Show me your ego and I will kill it.”