This was not a fresh realization for me (see my post, “What’s Most Important to You?”). Nor was the implication of this truth new; what was different was the power of this meditation. In the post I referred to, I stated that our emotions, judgments, attachments, and cravings are what interfere with our efforts to achieve peace and happiness and so we must free ourselves from those products of the ego-mind.
Be aware that that includes attachments stemming from desires that come from the heart, and therefore in and of themselves are Right desires. The problem is that when we attach to those skillful desires, which we typically do, they are transformed into unskillful desires, cravings, and we suffer. (See my post, “How to Desire Yet Not Crave.”)
If I want to achieve my soul’s principle yearning, then regardless whether the impulse comes from my heart or my ego-mind, I can have no attachment. I must have the attitude, “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t happen, that’s ok too.” If I don’t, then I will suffer; I will not be at peace and happy. So if I cannot adopt that attitude, then I have to let go the desire it is attached to.
Again, these thoughts are not new in my writing. What is new is the determination, the intent, that if I cannot pursue yearnings of my heart with equanimity, then I have to let those desires go, regardless how important I feel they are to my wellbeing. And that includes the yearning for peace and happiness. For the sake of my soul and my happiness, I must accept my life as it is and I must release all desires, all attachments.
Somehow, although I’ve expressed these thoughts often before, it feels different to me now. The imperative is far stronger. Previously, it was in terms of what’s most important to me. Now it’s what is most important to my soul. The gravitas has deepened.
From my own past experience, I know how difficult it is to pursue things we feel come from our heart and are essential to our happiness and not get attached to that effort. But I now see more clearly the essential importance of being uncompromising with myself on this matter.
I also have a new understanding of why monks “go forth,” undertaking vows of poverty. That certainly removes a major force that activates attachments and so disturbs the soul. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen at least with some Catholic priests, even when religious take vows, they still are not free from the pulls of the ego-mind, and not just regarding sex.
I also understand for the first time the Biblical saying, “And the meek shall inherit the earth.” When I would hear this phrase, it sounded like those without power will end up controlling the earth. And that just didn’t sound like a practical possibility on this planet. To paraphrase Marx’s comment, it sounded like pablum for the masses.
But if you interpret it spiritually, if you take the saying as meaning that those who have given up desires and attachments, who subordinate their ego-mind to their soul, will be able to experience fully the joy of life because they are one with their heart, with their soul, (or in the case of the Bible, with their God-essence) then the saying makes perfect sense. You will have spiritually inherited the earth, able to experience and take joy in all that the earth and life offers, every moment.
This is what I need to do to experience joy, to remove the barrier that the ego-mind has built around my heart. So as always it comes back to the question, how to implement this intent, how to free myself from the drag of my ego-mind.
While experiencing things through my senses certainly works, I found that that comes and goes; I wasn’t able to implement that consistently. (See my post, “What Blocks Me from Being Truly Present and Radiating My Inner Energy 24/7?”)
I have often written that in spiritual practice, it is not sufficient just to say “no” to your ego-mind, the emotion or judgment that causes you suffering. You must replace that negative force with something positive, otherwise a void is created and the ego-mind will come rushing back into the void.
And the most positive force I have found is to replace the eyes of the ego-mind with the eyes of my true Buddha self, the smiling toddler that I see as being the avatar of my true Buddha self. When I conjure up that image, or feel him holding my hand, I instantly smile and say “hello” to everything around me. I radiate positive energy. Then I don’t have to implement anything because it comes about automatically.
It seems almost anti-climactic, so simple, to realize after all this time, that this is what is practically meant by “turning my will and my life over to the care of my true Buddha nature” or “surrendering my ego to my true Buddha nature.” It’s not doing this practice or that. Interpret the phrase literally and replace the eyes of your ego-mind with the eyes of your unwounded heart, which for me translates to the eyes of that smiling toddler.
Because I have found that seeing things through the eyes of my smiling toddler is so much more effective and easier to implement than anything else I have tried, I strongly encourage you to find some photo of yourself as a young child, a toddler, that you can relate to in the same way. It feels so natural, so real, so palpable.
And to recall that toddler brings me nothing but joy; there is no sadness that for decades I had lost contact with that child. I am instead so happy that that contact has been restored.