In a stream-of-consciousness collection I wrote back in college there is a passage I wrote that seems to be divinely inspired. I wrote of loving others without attachment to one’s ego.
I was reading a lot of Buddhist texts at the time, and I was likely just regurgitating what I had read without really thinking about it much. I don’t think I understood yet what it means to have an ego and be attached to it. My outer self, my personality and social identity, was still too unformed.
Re-reading what I wrote now brings a lot of clarity to why I never managed to replicate the night where I wrote: “I love X,Y, Z” — with X, Y, Z being any number of people and creatures real and imagined, and then after several hours of doing this (or perhaps it was only about forty-five minutes), I lapsed into a trance where I felt myself transported into a world beyond this one, held up by powerful hands while Love itself streamed around me.
I went on to become too attached to myself that the world perceived, and caught up in the art of perfecting a “me” into an “I.” I was certain that fame and fortune were right around the corner, once the right people recognized me for how brilliant I truly was, and then from there it was nothing but promotion after promotion into the echelons of the very famous and wealthy who all congregate in New York around Central Park.
After repeatedly taking my little ball of selfish “me light” out into the world of people who had been doing battle with each other for years, vying with each other to realize very similar dreams, I realized that I needed to up my game considerably. I was bringing a stage knife to a nuclear war.
Only, I didn’t realize that it was a nuclear, zero sum war. I thought perhaps I simply needed to replace my stage knife with a real knife. My little pocket knife enabled me to take out a few poor souls who weren’t even really in the game, along with a couple who had also been going at it with stage knives. Then, I was dumbfounded when I entered realms where people were doing battle with guns and dynamite, and clueless about how to develop that much ammunition. Because there was also a certain art to all of it. While the war was nuclear, if you simply “went nuclear” in the middle of a pistol duel, you would be escorted from the room. By the time I had perfected some of the art behind the war and had developed my arsenal, I was much older than the people around me. People my age had long since advanced to fight more complicated and higher stakes battles, or had dropped out completely.
All the while, I tended to my precious ego, making sure that I was careful not to expose too much of it to potential ridicule while occasionally taking the kind of risk that would allow me to move forward in the war, which was starting to seem ever-increasingly complicated and convoluted. Love, of course, was completely forgotten about, except for the occasional night when I tried to reenact what I had previously done in college.
Each time I did that, thinking that I would wake up refreshed and full of a positive personality that simply radiated my love for others, I found myself almost immediately reacting even more violently to the little perceived slights of those around me. By the end of the morning, I usually wrote off the whole idea of developing a more loving me as a bunch of foolish dormroom nonsense.
God has blessed me with enough insight to see how dangerous my path was, and has pulled me back from the brink. He has given me a certain amount of cosmetic deficiency in the form of bad skin, premature gray hair and now thinning hair, to be able to never take my physical appearance so seriously that I start to pretend that I am immortal and worth preserving in my present form indefinitely.
For, that is partly what ego is, I think. The part of it that isn’t really mentioned in any definition. Not only is the egotist running around thinking he is better than everyone else, he is also caught up in an image of a false self that he thinks should be immortal. He begins to do things to himself that are truly pathetic, like soak his pate in various chemicals (some of which mimic estrogen or actually contain estrogen). He dyes his hair obnoxiously fake colors. He buys clothing for men ten-twenty years younger than him. He flirts with younger women. At the heart of it all, though, is a need (which could be described as an antichrist-driven need) to make what he sees as his true self into an immortal being.
The anger and frustration of the individual who is watching their ego erode into something else (where their ego is dependent upon many physical characteristics that wither and die), is anger and frustration to be truly pitied. It is like a fire that sucks all of the oxygen right out of the room, where oxygen in this case would be love. Love of one’s True Self — the individual you truly are beyond even this life, but at the very least the same you that you were when you were eight, eighteen and will be when you are eighty. But, one’s True Self should be loved lightly, not obsessively or as the end-all-be-all. And, if you can’t figure out where your ego ends and your True Self begins, then it is probably best to completely detach yourself and not cling at all to yourself when you embark upon the journey of trying to bring more love energies into this world.
Of course, I had little to say about Jesus when I was in college. Occasionally, I would try to understand him from the perspective of one of the too-smart, new-agey writers I loved, but I didn’t really factor in the notion that none of the love-creation exercises could prove to be successful and sustaining without the help of Jesus, the most perfect man and the only man capable of acting as an actual bringer of God’s Love into the world. If you are trying to increase the amount of love you feel for the world without including Jesus in the process, you are constantly running on fumes–the fumes of when you were a child and accepted Jesus’ love unquestioningly, and when Jesus loved you as a little one who had yet to be caught up in the nasty business of the adult ego game.
The amount of success you will derive from pursuing the perfection of ego is based on how closely aligned your vision is of your future self with what you are actually capable of producing. It is easy to dismiss dreams of being a sports hero by the time you are halfway through high school, but it is much harder to dismiss the possibility that you will become great through some highly implausible “discovery” made of you or something you are creating.
The vision others have of who you are is especially important in determining how realistic your vision is. This is not the same thing as worrying about what other people think about you, but actually trying to discern how people are reacting to your ego. If you are walking into a room with oversize gangsta-pimp sunglasses and acting smug, and you think that people are either laughing along with you at your ironic joke or even actually admiring you for being stylish, while the entire time they are clearly reacting with disgust and horror then it is probably safe to say that you are not very close to realizing whatever vision you have of your future ego’s greatness, be it in comedy or in becoming a gangsta-pimp. It doesn’t matter whether they “get it” or not, if you are not capable of getting them to the place where they “get it,” then you are the one that needs to do some work.
Either you need to set up the joke better, find a new audience of admirers, or confront the fact that the suit you are trying to wear doesn’t fit very well.
People may not laugh because they are unsure if you are being serious or not. Or, they may not think it is funny–perhaps they think you are making fun of a culture, or they may think you are just being too immature for the kind of persona they think you possess.
The best way to perfect your ego, is to perfect who you are on the inside, unless you really do want to get closer to the antichrist and make it be all about the image. It sounds cliched, but have you actually tried it?
This is not the same thing as sitting around by yourself stewing in your own thoughts, or rehashing the same stuff you’ve already written. This is taking a stand and saying that you are going to radically improve what’s on the inside, and strive to wake up a completely different person (on the inside) than you ever have been. As for what’s on the outside, and how others respond to you, it is probably best to put as much of that on hold has possible.
This includes any writing that is writing with an eye to a future audience. Just stop it. Stop writing as if you will one day have millions of adoring fans. Write your own internal truth. Find your inner connection to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and focus on the Love from God.