Be melting snow. Wash yourself of yourself. ~Rumi
The ego, as the teachings discuss, claims everything as itself. I did that. I said that. I think that. I am that. This is the heart of the ego.
It’s easy for many of us to peg the ego in its overt forms. Feeling slighted when someone you know walks by you in the hall and forgets to say ‘hi.’ Catching the mind taking credit for your whole team’s work. Or spotting egotism in the bombastic persona of a major candidate. Perhaps, even if we don’t have some form of regular self-reflection, we can easily release such blatant expressions.
Having some form of regular practice, such as meditation, in which we observe ourselves with curiosity and interest over time invites us to question who it is we are observing. And who is the observer? Who is it that claims these thoughts, emotions, and actions for itself? And isn’t it ridiculous?
Why, for example, is an emotion being temporarily experienced claimed as the self? (“I’m happy.”) Or an idea? (“I’m bad at sports.”) Just as ludicrous, why are physical sensations or states turned into identity? (“I’m tired.”)
I do this as much as the next person. It’s just been confounding me recently. Why?
Yesterday, as I began the drive to D.C. for writing group, I passed a young man who was so clearly filled with pride about his outfit, just beaming as he strode down the street. I beamed back in recognition and we both laughed aloud as we caught each other’s eyes. Deeply recognizing ourselves and each other in this shared experience of a passing state. Instantaneously reminded of Pure Being.
Pride just happened to be floating around in the air and we housed it mutually for a moment; then enjoyed that shared embodiment and recognition. And as that moment faded away and our paths diverged, the next moment arose.
To know yourself is to forget yourself. ~Dogen Zen-ji