"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Small "Self" of the Ego: A Universal Problem

The universal problem set before each individual is to overcome the smaller 'self,' or ego, so as to come to a realization of the world we live in, and those beings we live with, as a unitary whole. It is this problem that Albert Einstein famously addressed when he observed: "A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness."

"This delusion," he observed,"is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

"Nobody is able to achieve this completely, " the great scientist pointed out, "but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

The Nobel prize-winning poet, Rabindranath Tagore, in his classic work, "Gitanjali," expressed the common difficulty presented by the ego in the following way:

"I walk out alone
on the way to my tryst,
but who is this me in the dark?
I step aside to avoid his presence,
but I escape him not.
He makes the dust rise
from the earth with his swagger.
He adds his loud voice
to every word I utter.
He is my own little self, my Lord,
he knows no shame.
But I am ashamed
to come to Thy door in his company."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"When faced with a radical crisis," writes Eckhart Tolle, "when the old way of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn't work anymore, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual life-form - or a species - will either die or become extinct or rise above the limitations of its condition through an evolutionary leap."

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