I now have more understanding of what Eckhart Tolle was talking about in his book The Power of Now. My awareness is increasing and with it the realization that most of the time I am living unconsciously. I have been identifying with my mind, and as some people have said: The voice in my head is an asshole.
When I focus on the present moment, I realize how much pain I still walk around with. I had the illusion that I had let go of the past, but now I realize that in many ways I am still just living out the unconscious patterns from many years ago.
I realize that for 99.999% of the day, I am not in charge. My mind is. I also understand why enlightened people tend to become so happy. As time goes by they let go of more previous pain, and stop creating new pain. A short while after they only have pain from external sources, and when they have pain they do not have to suffer. They gain an inner calm that cannot be disturbed.
Now I understand why Leo Babauta is so obsessed with his breath. Why he values stillness and silence so much. Because that is how you become present. I see conscious living in a whole new light. What I thought was conscious living was just my mind making decisions and then giving me the illusion that it was me that made the choice.
The ego, or unconscious mind, is a very scared little person. It fears almost everything. I think the reason that it arises in humans is to keep us in homeostasis, to keep us stable and to keep us on track in spite of the many distractions that bombard us. The problem is, it is not very mature. Not only does it not assess whether the direction it is moving in is the right one, but it does not even take orders well. It looks at our behaviour and then deduces from it what we want. It does not listen to verbal commands. We all know how our behaviour can diverge from our intentions, and our current behaviour is what our ego tries to maintain.
Pain is a way for our ego to know that we do not like it. Our ego tries to avoid the pain. Many times the pain is unavoidable, so our ego shuts down our feelings to try and get away from the pain. It cannot handle the inevitable pain that accompanies our joy. It confuses not feeling pain with not having pain so it stops feeling. If your leg is smashed to a pulp, but you cannot feel anything, would you say that your leg is fine?
It is also very afraid. So trembling and scared. Anything that is not familiar inspires pure terror in our ego. Our ego will create pain just because it is familiar and it does not know any better.
The better our ego does its job, the less use we have for it. Like a firefighter paid to put out fires, the firefighter becomes an arsonist to keep itself employed. It wants to be useful so creates problems. Then it solves the problems and we thank it and feed it energy. No, a firefighter is too mild an analogy. Our ego is a dictator. A military commander that is only tolerated during times of war. The more conflict the dictator can create, the more power is given to him.
Reading all this, you will probably think that I want to eliminate my ego, become egoless.
Firstly, that will not work well. You cannot kill a part of yourself without harming what remains.
Secondly, the ego is very powerful. It has been in command for a long time and it can sabotage you in a myriad of ways. War on ego will only give it more power.
Your ego is a servant. One that wants to do a good job, but is not very self-aware. What you have to do is retrain it so that it works to your benefit. You want to create a productive partnership with your ego. It can take care of the boring grunt work, and you can focus on the really hard problems.
Why should you be present? Why should you accept your circumstances? Why not just let your ego run your whole life?
In the game of life you have two options: Accept where your character is and enjoy playing from there. OR Stop playing the game and go play another. There is a catch: There is no guarantee that there is any other game. So if you stop playing, then nobody knows if you will be able to play again.
Life is full of possibilities, but death is a great unknown from which you cannot return.
You are still reading, so you are not dead. Then accept the game, and start acting differently if you want different results. Life is not just one type of game. You can play it in many ways, and the game will adapt its storyline to your character.
If you are a noob, accept it. Don’t try to be a veteran when you are not. In video games, noobs can sometimes enjoy the game a lot more, because they don’t worry about losing. If you are a veteran, don’t wish you were a noob, because there are levels of gameplay available to you that noobs cannot even dream of.
Another reason to accept your reality: You cannot play well if you do not know what the rules of the game are. If you do not accept reality, you are ignoring the rules of the game. The principle of truth says that you cannot get good results with false information. You have to accept this present moment, you have to accept the scenario that your character is in. But, and this is important:
ACCEPTANCE IS NOT PASSIVITY!!
You do not have to accept the future. You do not have to accept that you have to do tomorrow what you did yesterday. You have the power to choose your response. At the very least, you have the power to try and increase your power.
To happiness, and beyond!