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Stepping into the Present Is a Gift

--by Carolyn Hobbs (Aug 01, 2016)


Most of us have heard of ego and let ego run our lives without realizing it. But few of us know how deeply our ego—the small, less mature, defensive part of us that reacts personally to every little thing— sabotages us by resisting the present. Whether it speaks loud and demanding or soft and seductive, our ego exhausts itself convincing us that we have much more important things to worry about and plan and do than waste our time in the silly, boring present. But underneath all this bravado, ego treats the present like a life-threatening plague.

Ego's job in life is keeping us safe at all costs. As safety manager, it takes this job very seriously. It can't help itself. But in its near-sightedness, it cannot decipher between fear and reality. If it convinces itself that our lover might possibly hurt us, ego does everything in its power to destroy our relationship. Ego rallies all its loyal soldiers—fear, worry, doubt, judgment and despair—to pull off its latest heist.

Remember, safety (not happiness or love) is ego's single goal. It pulls out all the stops when helping us avoid possible hurt, discomfort, illness, suffering or pain—especially a broken heart. All day long, ego crams our head with incessant thoughts, memories, fantasies, fears, regrets, plans, worries, hopelessness—anything to distract us. We might say ego has a phobia about the present.

Besides grandma's wedding ring and dad's gold watch, we also inherited an unquestioned loyalty to ego's shenanigans. When it labels our current experience as "good" or "bad," we buy its judgment. When it devotes hours to analyzing past hurts in a futile attempt to avoid future hurts, we swallow its conclusions whole. When ego captivates us with juicy stories about my thoughts, my feelings, my wants—knowing how susceptible we are to stories about ourselves—we ride the big wave.

Ego does all this below our awareness, counting on our ignorance.

Now is the time to question our undying loyalty to one small part of who we are. One scratch below the surface reveals how ego acts and thinks like a five-year-old. It hides under the bed at the whiff of any unfamiliar, unpredictable, unexpected things that might cause discomfort, creating more suffering for us in its wake.

If our goal is freedom and joy, we need to see through ego's clever antics.

Some deep excavating is in order. Ego mastered its games centuries ago and fine-tunes it every time it captures our attention. First, we need to replace ego's false kingpin, "If you just get it right next time, you'll never have to feel hurt, disappointed, scared or rejected again" with the truth: "Suffering comes with life." We smile and nod at ego's compelling stories and, instead, hear our trusting heart whisper softly, "You're safe to feel the fear or doubt directly and let it go." [...]

We can't stop fear or judgment. Ego's thoughts arrive before we have time to think about them. But we can consciously choose how to respond. Stepping into the present is a gift we can give ourselves anytime, anywhere, any moment. Presence, our inner compass, navigates our choices toward inner peace and freedom.

Excerpted from Carolyn Hobbs' book, Free Yourself. Carolyn Hobbs is a Vipassana meditator, teacher and author.

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On Aug 5, 2016 Danny wrote:

Dealing with my ego is a daily activity. I agree that it does fear the present. When we are fully present we are naked emotionally and spiritually. We have nothing to clothe ourselves with, not our past successes or failures nor our future hopes, anxieties and dreams. In the present we have the opportunity to be just ourselves and to truly accept and appreciate what is before us and within us. This confuses ego as it continually wants to take us elsewhere. The ability to meditate and just observe this phenomena is the beginning to better understanding and living alongside our ego. Little by little it's hold on us will diminish and our ability to be truly present will become easier and more enjoyable. 



On Aug 2, 2016 Mary wrote:

In my experience, Ego tries to keep me safe is the core of it's bamboozles.  It tries to distract me from this here now which kept me alone with only Ego's thoughts - it is a self preservation machine that can only be uncovered with being present.  Wonderful article!



On Jul 31, 2016 david doane wrote:

I like the line that ego has a phobia about the present, and I agree.  And I agree that ego's job is to keep us safe, though it often peddles an illusion of safety, steers us wrong, working to keep itself safe rather than do what is really best for us.  Ego is the connection between unconscious and conscious, between instinct and reason.  It can serve as a navigator in the world.  The ego has some power, and power often corrupts.  Just as power goes to some peoples' heads, the ego easily goes overboard with its own power and operates as though the person works for it rather than it works for the person.  Ego often becomes out of control.  There have been times that I have related from my heart, related simply, honestly, and openly, and ignored my ego's warnings that I'll look foolish or be embarrassed or be hurt, and such relating has been my happiest.  For me, learning to be in the present began in psychotherapy and many psychotherapy related e  See full.

I like the line that ego has a phobia about the present, and I agree.  And I agree that ego's job is to keep us safe, though it often peddles an illusion of safety, steers us wrong, working to keep itself safe rather than do what is really best for us.  Ego is the connection between unconscious and conscious, between instinct and reason.  It can serve as a navigator in the world.  The ego has some power, and power often corrupts.  Just as power goes to some peoples' heads, the ego easily goes overboard with its own power and operates as though the person works for it rather than it works for the person.  Ego often becomes out of control.  There have been times that I have related from my heart, related simply, honestly, and openly, and ignored my ego's warnings that I'll look foolish or be embarrassed or be hurt, and such relating has been my happiest.  For me, learning to be in the present began in psychotherapy and many psychotherapy related experiences, and now being in the present is its own reward.  I've become more aware of the present and am quicker to go back to the present when I get away from it.

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On Jul 30, 2016 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Carolyn Hobbs' writing resonates deeply with and within me. As I understand, each one of us has two identities: Ego Identity and True Identity. Our ego identity is developed in social contexts and social milieu sustained by identifying ourselves with ego identity and living in that socially conditioned bubble. Since all of us are born in a social nest, we all are impacted by our upbringing and social transactions. Such conditioning  serves to some extent our practical functions of living. However, it restricts and limits our inherent capacity to develop and cultivate our true identity. Our true identity has its own authentic true voice not suppressed or muffled by the voice of the ego identity. When we live and behave from the center of our true identity, we feel whole and wholesome, relating to ourselves and others genuinely, empathetically and compassionately. We become each other's brother keepers.It is a relationship in which join our heads, hearts and hands come togeth  See full.

 Carolyn Hobbs' writing resonates deeply with and within me. As I understand, each one of us has two identities: Ego Identity and True Identity. Our ego identity is developed in social contexts and social milieu sustained by identifying ourselves with ego identity and living in that socially conditioned bubble. Since all of us are born in a social nest, we all are impacted by our upbringing and social transactions. Such conditioning  serves to some extent our practical functions of living. However, it restricts and limits our inherent capacity to develop and cultivate our true identity. Our true identity has its own authentic true voice not suppressed or muffled by the voice of the ego identity.

When we live and behave from the center of our true identity, we feel whole and wholesome, relating to ourselves and others genuinely, empathetically and compassionately. We become each other's brother keepers.It is a relationship in which join our heads, hearts and hands come together. We move from ego bound identity to transcendental true identity. We move from an unawakened and ignorant state to an awakened and enlightened state, from bondage to freedom, from darkness to light. We regain our childhood- a source of  pure and joyful energy, seeing our face in other's face.We make wise choices and build and sustain our infra structure of loving kindness, brotherhood and sisterhood.
 
How do we make a shift from ego identity to true identity? All wisdom traditions have explored this ever present and universal challenge of humankind and have offered pathways to realize our true nature and be happy and blissful. Our challenge is to embrace the pathway that suits our personality and consistently practice it in our everyday living. Following such a path with mindfulness  has been a blessing to me.It has helped me to live in the present more fully. When and if my mind goes away from the here and now consciousness, I  become mindful of my wandering mind and get centered. With practice, it has been easier for me to walk on this mindfulness path. My daily transactions with a variety of people have become more genuine and compassionate. Now when I go back to "sleep", become unmindful, it does not take much time for me to wake up and be mindful. This is a lifelong journey and I am embracing it with hope, joy, and  gratitude. 

May we become each other's brothers and sisters' keepers and  be grateful for receiving Divine blessings!

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave'




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