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Lions Roar : March 2017
Relationships DAVID RICHO teaches us four ways to drop big ego and get closer. ACTING FROM “BIG EGO,” that is, egotism, is a form of suffering. When acting from big ego, we’re at the mercy of four compulsions that cancel the possibility of closeness in our relationships: 1. We are self-centered, on guard, closed off from others. This is based on a fear of vulnerability, but vulnerability is a necessary feature of authentic intimacy. 2. We fail to notice or care about the sufferings or mishaps of others. We look at others with judgment and criticism, rather than with compassion. 3. We are envious of others’ good luck, successes, or accomplishments. We are competitive even in our close relationships. 4. We react with aggression and retaliate when others offend us or do not acknowledge our entitlement to spe- cial treatment. It is possible to let go of this guarded ego and place our psyche under new management—that of our buddhanature. When we liberate ourselves from the compulsions of ego- We gradually bring ourselves out of identification with our immature survival strategies and into alignment with our current realities and capacities. Challenging our familiar for- mulas of self-protection will often feel like a threat, and so anxiety is an inevitable part of this healthy process. From a spiritual-path point of view, increasing our con- scious participation in open awareness will also generate anxiety. Open awareness—the always-present awareness that can’t really be captured by any language—provides absolutely no support for personal identity. So the engagement of our personal self with non-personal reality will be experienced (correctly) as a threat to this self, and it will manifest as anx- iety. In this context, we can understand anxiety as an experi- ence of the basically open nature of life and mind from the reference point of egoic process. Whether we’re working with our minds spiritually or psy- chologically, we have a choice. We can invest in denying the truth of our vulnerabilities, thereby gaining pseudo-security at the cost of chronic anxiety. Or we can commit to experi- encing our vulnerabilities moment by moment, gaining con- fidence that we can work with whatever arises—anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, etc. Either way, there’s anxiety. To practice commitment to anxiety, try on the following statements as if you mean them and see what experiences arise: I give up my fantasy of a life free of anxiety. I give myself permission to feel anxious off and on for the rest of my life. Drop any explanation for your anxiety. Bring attention to immediate, sensation-level experience, with no interpretation or commentary. Where’s the problem or threat? Own the embodied intensity as a valid part of your life and be kind to this experience. BRUCE TIFT is author of Already Free: Buddhism Meets Western Psychotherapy on the Path of Liberation (Sounds True). PHOTOBYJENNIFERBLAIR LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2017 62