Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't Drink the Ego's Kool-Aid

The spiritual quest can become an ego trap. Instead of diminishing and letting go of the separated sense of 'self' the ego can quite easily flip and appear to cooperate in its own diminishment. "You want to be spiritual," the ego says, "then watch just how spiritual I can be!" Perhaps it is this reverse egoic thinking that leads to the demise of many of the so-called 'gurus' and self-proclaimed messiahs who rise, crash and burn. The trouble is not only that all too many drink their kool-aid, but even more critically, that we are all too prone to mix and take our own.

Having learned that there is such a thing as enlightenment, and finding out that literally thousands of books have been written on how enlightenment might be achieved, the ever-voracious ego sets out to gain more and more knowledge. However, once one has read even a few of these books one knows that it is only practice and experience, rather than intellectual knowledge and beliefs, that will do the trick. But, oh, how attached the ego can become to more spiritual knowledge!
"In one way or another," writes Ram Dass, " all of the practices of jnana yoga work with our intellectual faculties and with different levels fo the mind to get to something that is finally beyond the mind's grasp. It's called higher wisdom, and higher wisdom is a different thing altogether from knowledge. . . . Knowledge is a function of the intellect; higher wisdom goes beyond mind and intellect."

"The intellect," Dass notes, "is like a siddhi, a yogic power, and like all such powers, it's very seductive. It's easy for us to seduced  by all the fascinating things we can know about. But our knowing isn't wisdom - it's knowledge; and all of that fascination with knowing things can end up drawing us outward rather than inward."

"We get trapped in the world of knowing," Dass points out. "We busy ourselves collecting more and more worldly knowledge, and focus on the matrix of the rational mind instead of openining into our deeper wisdom. And then the very tool we're trying to use to escape becomes our trap, because with knowing there's always still a "knower" and a "that which is known.""
"Only when the knower and known become one," writes Dass, "does that One get through the door. Nobody who knows anything gets through the door - which means that the ultimate sacrifice for the gynani, the intellectual, is giving up everything."
[Ram Dass, "Paths to God," pp. 74-75.]
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

"Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment," Rumi advises us.

[Coleman Barks, "The Essential Rumi, p. 36.]

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