FROM DEEPAK CHOPRA:
Happiness is natural to life, because it is part of the self. When you know yourself, you access happiness at its source. But most people confuse themselves with their self-image. Our self-image is created when we identify ourselves with external things. These can be people, events, and situations as well as physical objects. True being has five qualities, none of which is created by external things, events, or other people:
Shifting your sense of identity to your true being frees you to created a life of abundance, joy, and fulfillment. Being tied to external things leaves you stranded on a superficial level of existence. At a deeper level of existence you can manifest your deepest desires. Once you allow it to, your true being can create the situations, circumstances, and relationships in your life.
When you aren’t manifesting your deepest desires, the root cause is that you have mistaken who you really are. In India, this state is known as avidya, or absence of true knowledge. When you don’t remember who you really are, you have no choice than to fall back upon your ego.
Object-referral creates an ego identity from all the events and circumstances of your past, starting the day you were born. If you look closely, the ego is actually quite insecure. It is addicted to approval, control, security, and power. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things. The problem is becoming addicted to them to the point that without approval, control, security, and power, you feel lost and afraid.
If you want to know how strongly you identify with your ego as opposed to your true being, there’s no mystery about it. The ego has the opposite qualities from the five we described before.
As you can see, the central theme of the ego is insecurity.
Once you open the door to awareness, don’t fight against the fear and insecurity you have released. Awareness has healing power if you simply look and allow. A painful slight comes your way; you feel wounded. Be with that feeling and it will dissipate. Your ego wants you to remember the past out of a mistaken belief that you must keep defending yourself over and over. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt.
To correct that mistake, just ask yourself, “Do I recognize this feeling of being wounded? Is it old or new?” If you are being honest, you will immediately see that it’s a very old feeling. The past is reaching out to grab you. Now ask the next question: “How much good has it ever done me to remember my old hurts?” Again, if you are honest, you will see that it has done you no good whatever. If recalling old hurts prevented you from being hurt here and now, you wouldn’t feel so bad. You wouldn’t be so vulnerable to external disapproval. If your ego was on the right path, it wouldn’t have this toxic storehouse of old pain.
Instead of trying to live up to your ideal self-image, surrender to the simplicity and innocence of being. Once you know who you really are, being is enough. There is no need for struggle. Your true self is the self of the universe. What more can you want? When you have creativity, feel fearless, can step into the unknown, and have the power of intention, everything has been given to you.
It helps to keep in mind what is real and what is illusory:
Your natural state is one of joy, peace, and spontaneous fulfillment. When you are not experiencing this state, some contamination is present in body or mind. Contamination can be the result of toxic emotions, habits, and relationships, as well as toxic substances. All of these are rooted first in the mind as the result of conditioning. Therefore the solution to toxicity in your life lies at the level where the mind has lost its natural state.
There are 7 steps to ridding yourself of a toxin at the subtle level:
Step 1: Take responsibility for your present response.
Step 2: Witness what you are feeling.
Step 3: Label your feeling.
Step 4: Express what you feel.
Step 5: Share what you feel.
Step 6: Release the toxic feeling through ritual.
Step 7: Celebrate the release and move on.
Express your feeling: Every emotion becomes toxic when you bottle it up. Expressing it leads to release, which is purifying to body and mind. First express your feeling from your point of view by writing it down. Then express it from the other person’s point of view, which is more difficult. Then write down your position from a third-party perspective.
Share your feeling: Now expand beyond your private perspective, allowing others to participate. Share your feeling with someone you trust.
Share the whole process you have been going through.
An enormous amount of energy becomes available once you give up the need to be right. Being right implies that someone else must be wrong. All relationships are damaged by a confrontation between right and wrong. The result is great suffering and conflict in the world. To give up the need to be right doesn’t mean that you don’t have a point of view. But you can give up your need to defend your point of view. In a state of defenselessness, we find invincibility, because there is no longer anything to attack. We are all a single consciousness with unique ways of experiencing the world. Wholeness is a state of profound peace and happiness.
Our unique points of view are a gift. We live in a universe reflecting who we are, which we should cherish and celebrate. Instead, we rush to defend our tiny piece of it. Consider how relationships develop. We get along well with someone else who agrees with our point of view. We feel an intimate connection; we feel validated in their presence. Then the spell is broken: it turns out that the other person has many opinions and beliefs with which we don’t agree at all. At this point, the war between right and wrong stars, and the road to unhappiness unspools before us.
The very fact that you are in an intimate relationship makes it even more painful to find areas of disagreement. At the subtle emotional level you feel abandoned. The beautiful sense of merging with someone you love is shattered. At this point love is compromised, as both people experience the return of the ego, which says, “I am right. My way of doing things is the only way. If you really loved me, you’d give in.” But in reality love hasn’t failed. It was just blocked by the need to be right, to cling to your own viewpoint instead of surrendering to what love would do. To the ego, however, surrender is defeat and disgrace. When you give in to your need to be right, you are turning your back on love, communion, and ultimately unity. Unity is the realization that at the deepest level everyone shares the same consciousness, which is the source of all love and joy.
As your experience of not needing to be right deepens, the mind becomes quieter. You start to feel more empathy, and your perception widens. A knowingness arises that encloses both you and the person who disagrees with you. Einstein famously said: “No problem can be solved at the level of consciousness in which it was conceived.”
To get beyond the level of the problem, you must see yourself clearly. Many people are not even aware when they are defending the need to be right. The signs are not always anger and resentment. But righteous behavior has only one common denominator: the refusal to surrender. Only surrender brings freedom from judgment. When you’re dominated by your ego, surrender feels like total defeat. The ego thrives under the following conditions:
You get what you want.
Others agree to follow your agenda.
There is a sense of self-control.
Right and wrong are clearly demarcated.
Nobody crosses the line between right and wrong.
You name the conditions of loving someone else and being loved in return.
Anyone who agrees with you is showing that he/ she loves you.
Someone who obeys you feels safe, Someone you must obey feels unsafe.
Ironically, these conditions for making your ego happy turn out to make who you really are very unhappy. There is no joy in being in charge, no love in controlling others, no expansion in defending the line between right and wrong. In doing so, you sacrifice your true self.
To find your true self, you must surrender to it, and the best way to do that is to surrender to another person. This doesn’t mean that one ego gives in to another ego. That would indeed spell defeat. Instead, you share with the other person the truth about yourself:
You want love without limitations.
You want to feel safe.
You want to express yourself creatively.
You want to expand in joy.
You want to be free.
Your highest wish is for unity in a state of perfect peace.
When you can share these deep desires with another, what happens? The same thing that has always been happening. The world will reflect your level of consciousness. In this case, the reflection comes from one other person – the one who shares your truth. When you say to your beloved, “You are my world”, you are being quite literal.
But this is the fist stage of surrender. It isn’t possible for two people to want the same thing every minute of the day. Both want different things; both have different points of view. To carry surrender beyond being merely an ideal, it must be made practical. Many people want to have a spiritual relationship, only to founder on the many obstacles that arise in everyday life – issues over money, career, family, and ambitions, for instance. There is no need to suppress these issues, or to settle for compromises that don’t fully satisfy either party. If you cannot fulfill yourself, you can’t possibly fulfill another.
The secret isn’t to surrender to another person, or even to each other. You surrender to the path. It is a path you share. Your commitment is not to what you want or to what your partner wants. Individual desire is secondary. You commit to wherever the path is taking you. In this way you give up your ego-centered perspective. Your focus shifts to the space between you and the one you love. This is the gap between ego and spirit. Whenever you are tempted to obey your ego, you go to this shared space and ask the following:
Which choice is more loving?
What will bring peace between us?
How awake am I?
What kind of energy am I creating?
Am I acting out of trust or distrust?
Do I feel what my partner is feeling?
Can I give without expecting anything in return?
These questions don’t have automatic answers. They serve instead to wake you up spiritually. They attune you to a process that is more than “you” and “me”. The space you share with someone else allows you to look beyond this ego. The advantage of doing this isn’t obvious at first. Your old conditioning will say: “What’s wrong with getting what I want? Why should I consider someone else before me? I have a right to expect good things for myself.”
What your ego cannot see is something precious that is hidden in every spiritual relationship: mystery. This mystery is born of love; it calls to you from a place of peace and joy that the ego can never reach with all its struggles, demands, and needs. Simply by entering the space between you and someone you love, you open yourself to mystery. When two people fall in love, the existence of the mystery is obvious; it all but blinds them. They feel merged and perfectly in their state of rapture. Nothing can ever go wrong. The whole world exists in the other person. But when romance fades, this certainty fades with it. So it takes commitment to keep alive those first glimpses of a fulfillment that lies beyond yourself, yet is nothing but yourself.
When you commit to the path, you also surrender to it. Every day you ask, “What can love do? Show me. I am ready.” The answers will surprise you. Love can solve problems, heal wounds, settle disputes, and bring unexpected answers. Here we aren’t talking about personal love, the feeling contained inside a single person. This is a love beyond the personal that watches and knows everything. When you give yourself to it, everyday differences mean very little: money, ambition, career, family concerns all fall into place. An invincible power reconciles opposites; it creates harmony of its own accord.
To experience such a state you cannot work for it and try to control it. You allow yourself to be in a state of openness. You witness what is going on; you hang loose; you obey when the right impulses takes hold. This is how life is lived spontaneously. Whatever happens next is the right thing. Whatever you need at the deepest level is automatically given. It is possible to exist in such a state, although few people do it. I fact, it is the most natural way to live. But if you judge your life, if you hold on to being right, if you insist on setting boundaries, then the mystery cannot reach you. Living in harmony with the mystery takes time. Surrender, like everything else, is a process, not a leap. Despite ups and downs, the path always goes forward, and every step is a step of love. Ultimately that is the reason for relationships, to be able to look into someone else’s eyes and share the knowledge that the power of love has blessed you both.
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