Unfortunately, I frequently have been aware but not on guard when my mind asserted itself, with unfortunate consequences. I became aware in a recent meditation just how sneaky my mind has been, how it works at cross-purposes, which is to say against, important goals that stem from my heart. And it does that by acting in areas where despite my having turned my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature, I still cling to certain perspectives which were important to me. And so although I'm aware of doing something that I shouldn't be doing, and so am aware of the mind asserting itself, I don't stop the mind and say, "no."
But I do in fact have a choice. I can say "no" to these activities or perspectives and choose to act in harmony with my heart. And having now realized what my mind has been doing, where it has been leading me counter to my practice, I have started saying "no" to it and saying "yes" to the guidance of my heart.
This experience of the mind continuing to assert itself even after I turned my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature, after you have achieved the wisdom of knowing that all feelings and perceptions, the skandhas, are a product of the mind, has been disconcerting.
But this morning in my meditation, I realized a further truth. As I wrote, many years ago, my Vietnamese Zen teachers urged us to surrender our egos to our true Buddha nature. But as I wrote in my post, "Turning Your Will Over to Your True Buddha Nature," that sounded somewhat scary, especially with the monk's image of us having to jump off the precipice of our ego, and so I adopted the 12-step phrasing of turning my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature. I thought that would get me to the same place.
I realize now, however, that those two expressions are complimentary, not identical in their impact. Although I have achieved the one, I have continued to suffer with some regularity because I have not surrendered my ego, and so it is still active in me, sabotaging my efforts to offer myself and others joy, to achieve peace and happiness. The two need to be combined.
It's interesting that that is exactly what I said at the end of my post about turning my will over to the care of my true Buddha nature, that I needed to combine that together with the act of surrendering my ego in my revised "Fourfold Path to Freedom." But obviously since writing that, I totally forgot about the two in combination, and instead just focused on turning my will over. Hmmmm. Could it be that my mind blocked my memory of that intent?
How do you surrender your ego? I think you do everything I have done and taught, plus whenever your mind asserts itself, you say "no" to it and look for guidance instead to your heart. No "if's, and's, or but's."
The example of the Buddha's life shows that one cannot banish, be free, of the ego. Even after he was enlightened, the Buddha was visited by Mara, his temptress and ego avatar, on many occasions. He, however, had the presence and awareness to always say "no" to Mara. That is what we all must do.
And so after almost 30 years of daily practice, I now enter into yet a higher phase. And I feel freer because the burden of my ego-mind is being lifted off my shoulder.