The best part about meditation is that you can begin to really enjoy your realizations.
This takes time. At first, a lot of your realizations may be pretty unpleasant. You likely have some very negative thoughts wandering around in your head that you usually don’t notice. Meditation will cause you to notice them. They have their effects whether you notice them or not, so you are better off noticing them and letting them go than continuing to ignore them, but the process can be unsettling. It’s supposed to be unsettling.
Once you get to the point where you have happiness, or joy, or even bliss available when you want it, you begin to find joy even when you notice yet more negative thoughts because you know you are letting them go. This is liberation in the most concrete sense. This is awakening.
A huge one for me was realizing that I needed to drop my facade. Chogyam Trungpa, the Tibetan meditation master, wrote in one of his books about how we usually are standing on a platform or stage and are terrified of falling off, so we build an elaborate fence or railing around the edges to prevent ourselves from falling. Eventually, because of practice, or life events, or whatever reason, we decide to step off of the platform, only to discover that it is only six inches off the ground and that falling off would not have hurt in the first place.
Again, the Buddha said our basic problem is ignorance. Nearly everything we think or think we know about the world is a misrecognition. Human life is one mistake after another.
One of the most important mistakes we make is our mostly unconscious commitments to our egos, which tell us incessantly that they are necessary for our successful functioning in the world, if not our basic survival.
The ego is the platform in Trungpa’s analogy above. Not only is it not essential, it does more harm than good. Holding onto it is a constitutive mistake that leads to lots of other mistakes down the road. The ego is the facade most of us learn to maintain early in life to defend ourselves against whatever it is we need to defend ourselves from. Mechanisms that may be beneficial or even necessary early in life can become harmful later on.
Letting go of ego is also an interesting example of the difference between knowing something in the abstract sense and knowing it in the direct, experiential sense. Understanding that you should not cling to your ego is pretty simple from reading this blog post. But genuinely letting go of your ego will happen, most likely, only after you have practiced enough, and when you let go of it, you will know it because it will come as a realization that will leave you happier and lighter after the fact.
The joy that comes from letting go of your ego, dropping your facade, is also proof of the point that your ego does more harm than good. Again, what you know from realizations you know more certainly than anything else you know or think you know.
So keep meditating until you drop your facade.
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