Monday, December 28, 2009

Trite Nonsense

DHS 47/100

While listening to some personal development mp3s this morning while outside shoveling snow, the author went from good advice to trite nonsense in the course of one chapter. Now i admit that most people probably won't agree with my "trite nonsense" claim, but it's true. Absolutely true.

Let me back up a little so you know where i'm coming from. I believe that the people who truly understand what it means to be a human being are the ones who take the time to understand that there is more to being "conscious" than simply opening your eyes each morning when it's time to get up.

This is not a subject the vast majority of people seem to think about. For those that do, this is not something that you understand in an evening in front of the Discovery Channel on TV. This is not something you understand after a weekend with the newest book by some guy/woman with the title 'Rinpoche' or 'Roshi' after their name. This is not something you understand after one week-long retreat at your favorite local spiritual center or the YMCA.

Coming to an understanding of what it means to be a conscious human being takes time — lots of time. Why? Because consciousness is ineffable at best and completely beyond understanding at worst. Yet, conscious we are, and anyone who develops a real interest in what this consciousness is, and commits to taking the time necessary to delve into a study of it, can count on years of enjoyable investigation.

On the other hand, whether we like it or not, we also have an ego: that screen between you and the world that interprets all of your perceptions through the filter of I, Me, & Mine. This ego can be a tricky thing to deal with, and most people never figure out how to do it. It is useful, absolutely; don't let anyone tell you it's not. You need it to interact with the everyday world of work, family, responsibilities, mortgages, and so on. But it's like a mischievous 2-year old who can be adorable when kept an eye on and can cause complete and utter mayhem when left to his own doing.

On the absolute level, our consciousness is what we really are, our true identity, what gives us life, what was not born and will not die. On the relative level, our ego is what differentiates us from everyone else, has been learned and incorporated into our definition of who we are, what changes from minute to minute, from one stage of life to the next, and will die when this body ceases to function.

Consciousness, what we really are, and ego, what most of us think we are, are two entirely separate things. Confusing them is like confusing your heart for your asshole — pretty hard to do when you take the time to think about it.

OK, so back to where i started. Like soooooo many other self-help gurus, today's author starts with this lame hypothesis about finding your passion in life by taking the time to figure out what you would do if you knew that today was the last day of your life. I not only don't buy that, i simply don't get it.

Understanding what you are passionate about and want to do as a profession, is all about ego. What makes you happy? What makes your heart sing? What could you do each and everyday of the year and still love going to work each day? And, it has to pay enough to support you, your family, and whatever level of life you choose to live.

I don't mean this is about "ego" in the sense of being an egomaniac, no. This is about ego because you are looking at the world through discriminatory eyes, deciding what is pleasurable and what isn't, what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong, what is worthy of my doing and what isn't. This is the world of I, Me, and Mine.

If this were your final day, however, this is the last thing you should be thinking about! No, not even the last — it shouldn't even be on your list. If you know that sometime today you will exhale for the very last time then you should be moving from the egoic level to the pure consciousness level. You should be spending your final breathing moments more with pure awareness than with that shitbag ego that has tormented you all your life.

If you get a phone call in the morning and the caller says something like...

"Sorry to bother you, but this is god and it has come to my attention that your number has just been pulled out of the hat. Can you please prepare yourself and i'll be around later this evening to pick you up. Please, and thanks for your understanding. Any questions? OK, then i'll see you later."

... then smile, call everyone that you care about, write some letters, spend the afternoon sharing stories and laughter with family and friends, and as the evening wanes sit quietly, sipping some green tea and watching who you are. Who you really are, that pure ineffable awareness. Wait patiently for the limo to show up and then simply say one last goodbye and set off on your trip.

None of that pertains to what my ego is passionate about. None of that will help me figure out how to earn a living — even though learning enough about yourself that you can actually do it on your last day without panicking will help you earn a life.

If you want to find out what you are passionate about, figure out what makes your ego tingle. Your consciousness won't give a hoot no matter what you choose, but the relative you will be as happy as that proverbial pig. However, this is NOT where you should be on your last day so don't mix your metaphors and confuse the issues of living and making a living.

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