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Lions Roar : May 2007
der, and theft they engaged in to serve their own perceived needs and desires when their extreme lust, greed, jealousy, and hatred failed to deliver the good fortune they were hoping for. If we ex- amine our own lives, we’ll see that our egoistic drives have actually attracted the difficulties that beleaguer us, a fair indication of the foolishness of our behavior. We might stay in an abusive re- lationship or exhibit a shameless and reckless disregard for everybody including ourselves. Some people even place their own lives at risk in the pur- suit of their selfish desires. The more we become self-absorbed, the more we become entangled and confused. These delusions are actually self- deceptions, because at a certain level we mislead ourselves into thinking they are good for us. Shantideva clearly states: O my mind, what countless ages Have you spent working for yourself? And what weariness it was, While your reward was only misery! Even though we don’t possess the kind of influence that ul- timately makes people change their behavior or attitudes, an awareness of our own egoistic drives can help eliminate the ob- sessive fixations that cause us, and other people, so much harm. Our egoism endlessly promises satisfaction but never gives us any real return. We invest, we try hard, we do all the things it directs us to do, but the return is not there. Many people take this teaching the wrong way at first, thinking, “Now I have to blame myself for everything!” However, the lojong teachings condemn only our egoistic, deluded mind, not the totality of our being. Blaming the ego is not the same as blaming the whole self. If that were all we were, then once that mind was transcended, we wouldn’t be able to function. But we are also in possession of unborn awareness, or buddhanature, and we don’t annihilate our- selves when we turn away from self-regarding attitudes. Buddhism acknowledges a structural formation of self-identity, with many different types of identification based on various levels of con- sciousness and distinctive levels of being, but it doesn’t endorse a separately existing “self.” When we blame the egoistic mind for our misery, we are just blaming that particular aspect of our identity. We need to understand that it’s possible to think independently of our ego. It is not essential that the ego assume the role of com- mander-in-chief. As Dharmarakshita says: Since that’s the way it is, I seize the enemy! I seize the thief who ambushed and deceived me, the hypocrite who deceived me disguised as myself. Aha! It is ego-clinging, without a doubt. If we regard ourselves as a unity, we might mistakenly feel that it is useless to try to effect any change. When we come to Since most of our emotional experiences are the direct result of how we interpret and personalize the events in our lives, the important factor is the skill with which we handle our own responses. SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 43 Bamiyan Continuum (detail) ➢ page 107