The world is awash with pain, suffering and frustration. We can witness its results daily when we turn on our TV’s, go on line, or open a newspaper
My master Tashi Thudrup wrote vividly about this ”We are sick! Our minds deformed and tortured by self-created delusion. The disease is everywhere, an epidemic of fear and confusion, crawling onto our streets, our homes and our places of leisure. It does not stop there, a great black hand of ignorance and self loathing, claws the face of our lovely planet. Delusion, greed and hatred rule the day as brother and sister injure and destroy one another and our animal brethren also, with the glazed indifference of automation's.”
Indeed we are sick, worse, we are fast asleep, creating nightmares for ourselves in the Biblical Darkness, the Maya of the Hindus, the Samsara of the Buddhist. So, how do we break out of this terminal tragedy, this groaning wheel of suffering? How do we wake up to what we really are? Simple, we do this by abandoning paths of darkness and placing our feet upon spiritual paths.
What's more, It’s perfectly possible to become enlightened, to realise our proper status as totally fulfilled, universally integrated men and women, and, it is possible in the here and now.
The problem though is that we have become too busy, trying to cram more and more experiences into our lives, to even begin to contemplate such a way out, we’ve been far too occupied with the notion of a ‘me,’ and fulfilling our desires, to even contemplate that there is the possibility of a cessation of our pain
Many of us hold tight to the notion, that the ‘self,’ this ‘I,’ we carry about, is a solid, ongoing entity. We never ever question this belief; it’s set in stone, unbreachable! ‘Of course I am real! What else thinks, breathes, exists?’ From our first waking moment, our lives have been filled with seemingly hard confirmation, that what we call the self, is real; we are given a name, nurtured, taught to read, to distinguish objects outside of this self. We learn to see ourselves as different from other beings. All of our life, this sense of identity is breed into us.
Yet it is just this sense of self that is the cause of all of the conflicts, wars and crime in the world, the reason, why the oceans are running out of fish, why the oil is running out, and why we cannot really get down to doing anything serious to alleviate the effects of climate change. It is also the cause of most of our illnesses, sufferings and frustrations, throughout our life.
So, how then does belief in an “I” and the whole neurotic process begin? According to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, whenever a perception of form (i.e. another person, a house a tree etc) appears, there is an immediate reaction of fascination and uncertainty on the part of an implied perceiver of the form. This reaction is almost instantaneous. It takes only a fraction of a fraction of a second. And, as soon as we have established recognition of what the thing is, our next response is to give it a name. With the name of course comes concept. We tend to conceptualise the object, which means that, at this point, we are no longer able to perceive things as they actually are. We have created a kind of padding, a filter, or veil, between ourselves and the object. This is exactly what prevents the maintenance of continual awareness. We feel compelled to name, to think discursively, which all the while, takes us further from direct perception. And what keeps us all tapped in the continuous round of pain and disillusionment is desire.
Desire is the thread that weaves the constant sense of self, into what we misunderstand as a solid and fixed state of being. 'self,' is nothing but a collection of the above stated tendencies, such as form, feeling, and perception. Self needs something to keep up the illusion of separateness, and solidness. That something is ‘desire,’ our constant inner drive that feeds constant images, to delight our senses.
Sogyal Rinpoche writes so clearly of this grasping, but deluded idea of a ‘self,’ in his book, ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. He defines ego as, "incessant movements of grasping at a delusory notion of I,"