And yet despite all of this, your ego-mind continues to control you much of the time. You are subject to bouts of emotion, anger, or fear when your buttons are pushed. You do not react to things with dispassion, with equanimity.
Where do you go from here? You need somehow to put your spirituality into practice as you go about your day. Your intent needs be to practice your spirituality 24/7. If you give your ego-mind an inch, the suffering it causes will overwhelm what peace you have otherwise gained through your spirituality and you will feel at a loss.
I have found over the course of the past year … yes, I know this is after 20+ years of disciplined practice but better late than never* … that there are several practical steps to take to bring your life and your senses under your control, under your heart’s control rather than your ego-mind’s. And I thought it would be helpful to bring them together here in this post with this particular focus.
The first is to sit with your true self, your heart, and know that your heart is light, love, faith, trust, compassion, strength, courage, and wisdom. Know you have everything you need inside yourself to be at peace and happy. Know that you have an eternal flame inside you that only your ego-mind can cast into shadow. (If this doesn’t resonate naturally with you, read the book, Personality: The Art of Being and Becoming, by Khan)
Second, make a commitment that there is nothing more important to you, that you value more, than your heart’s peace and happiness and you will allow nothing to disturb it. Then open up your heart to embrace all aspects of your being and experience. All internal and external struggles will cease. (See my post, “The Heart’s Embrace.”)
Third, as you go through your day, observe yourself and everything and everyone around you through your heart. not your ego-mind. Whenever you become aware that you are being judgmental, that you are getting agitated, that you are bored or in any other negative state, that is a signal that your ego-mind is asserting itself; immediately say “no” to it with compassion and return to your heart for its spiritual perspective. (See my post, “Change Your Life by Changing the Direction of Its Energy Flow.”)
When you see everyone and everything through your heart, your will experience them directly; you will observe all that is there, both the suffering and their true Buddha nature, with dispassion. Any existential feeling of aloneness will subside. (See my post, “What is Joy? What Is Happiness?”) When there is nothing but positive energy flowing from you, there will be nothing but positive energy within you. You will have returned home to your heart, to your unborn Buddha mind. You will be free.
*I want to address the issue of my finding these truths at this point in my practice. Several things. First, much of what I’ve learned during this past year has happened by happenstance. My partner bought some books, which we read to each other, and whether it’s the Sufi book about the heart, or the meditation practice of the heart embracing all aspects of your being and experience, which is from another book, if I hadn’t been exposed to those teachings, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Second, if I had been exposed to these teachings earlier in my practice, I don’t know that I would have been at a place spiritually to fully absorb the teachings and be able to apply them.
The path is a life-long exercise. We are constantly learning. Yet we are constantly going back to the beginning in the sense of going back to basics.
But even in the first 20 years of my practice, I benefitted greatly from that practice. It is an incremental process and with each passing year I experienced more peace and happiness. I always had faith. My books were all written during the last few years of that phase. I had come a long way, and yet from what I have learned since, I still had a long way to go, and indeed I’m sure I still have a long way to go. Life is a constant challenge and the process of walking the path is never-ending.