I catch myself constantly, whether it’s noticing that I’m walking faster, rushing, when it’s not at all necessary rather than savoring each moment and experiencing the touch of my foot on the ground or whether it’s not interacting with strangers in a positive rather than neutral manner. The major issues of my ego and my samsara are safely in the hands of my true Buddha nature; my ego no longer arises regarding these matters. But as regards the small, everyday aspects of life, I am often not aware, I am on auto-pilot, and so my ego takes advantage of my being asleep.
The other morning while meditating, I realized that since I cannot realistically expect to be aware 24/7. or even all waking hours, what I needed to do is deflate the ego if I want to be at one with all people and things at all times ... not just when I’m aware, at one with my true Buddha nature. This is different from surrendering the ego and turning my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature, which I’ve done; this is changing the nature of the ego for all those moments in the day when I am not aware, not one with my true Buddha nature.
When I was growing up, to counter/cope with the terrible feelings of insecurity and abnormality from which I suffered, I strove to excel in those areas where I could and erected an internal image of myself as being superior to or better than others. While this was a somewhat successful coping mechanism and brought me a successful professional life, it was a terribly counter-productive isolating self-image that just reinforced my negative feelings of being apart from and not being liked or desired by others.
What I realized the last few months, when on many occasions I observed, either while still in the moment or later when meditating, that the protective shell I had erected was still in place, separating me from the people who I came into contact with each day and creating a negative space between us, was that it was not enough to be aware of this issue and to strive to always be in conscious contact with my true Buddha nature. For all those moments when I was not aware, I needed to deflate my ego.
I know that I am not better than others. I am not superior to others. Each of us is who we are because of our own learned experience. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. We all suffer, although the exact nature of our samsara varies. We all are impacted in countless negative ways by the culture in which we live. And yet underneath all this detritus, the true Buddha nature exists within each of us.
What I did, at first purposefully, was when I was out and about, I would look at the people who were in the same space and feel my oneness with them. Not because I saw them through the eyes of my true Buddha nature, but because my ego knew that I was not better or superior to them. I saw them as human beings and applied none of the labels to them that my ego-mind would normally have automatically applied. I of course had no way of knowing who these people were, what their life was. But I knew that they suffered ... sometimes it was very visible ... and that buried under all the layers of their learned experience was their own true Buddha nature. Sadly unknown to them.