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Selfless Climbing versus Ego Climbing

--by Robert Pirsig (May 06, 2013)


Phaedrus wrote a letter from India about a pilgrimage to holy Mount Kailas, the source of the Ganges and the abode of Shiva, high in the Himalayas, in the company of a holy man and his adherents.

He never reached the mountain. After the third day he gave up exhausted, and the pilgrimage went on without him. He said he had the physical strength but that physical strength wasn't enough. He had the intellectual motivation but that wasn't enough either. He didn't think he had been arrogant but thought that he was undertaking the pilgrimage to broaden his experience, to gain understanding of himself. He was trying to use the mountain for his own purposes and the pilgrimage too. He regarded himself as the fixed entity, not the pilgrimage or the mountain, and thus wasn't ready for it. He speculated that the other pilgrims, the ones who reached the mountain, probably sensed the holiness of the mountain so intensely that each footstep was an act of devotion, an act of submission to this holiness. The holiness of the mountain infused into their own spirits enabled them to endure far more than anything he, with his greater physical strength, could take.

To the untrained eye ego-climbing and selfless climbing may appear identical. Both kinds of climbers place one foot in front of the other. Both breathe in and out at the same rate. Both stop when tired. Both go forward when rested. But what a difference! The ego-climber is like an instrument that's out of adjustment. He puts his foot down an instant too soon or too late. He's likely to miss a beautiful passage of sunlight through the trees. He goes on when the sloppiness of his step shows he's tired. He rests at odd times. He looks up the trail trying to see what's ahead even when he knows what's ahead because he just looked a second before. He goes too fast or too slow for the conditions and when he talks his talk is forever about somewhere else, something else. He's here but he's not here. He rejects the here, is unhappy with it, wants to be farther up the trail but when he gets there will be just as unhappy because then it will be "here." What he's looking for, what he wants, is all around him, but he doesn't want that because it is ‚Äčall around him. Every step's an effort, both physically and spiritually, because he imagines his goal to be external and distant.

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


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14 Previous Reflections:

 
On Jun 27, 2015 Colby wrote:

 Climb not to get to the top, but to feel your existence and experience something greater! Intentionally turn back and train your spiritual body!



On May 7, 2013 kara wrote:

 I Feel that Ego is just a vibration or facet or part of Soul/Spirit. and the 2 are only separate by degrees.  Who is it that seeks the spiritual path?  who is it that seeks the material path?  Who is it that wants to save the world, or reach out and help someone else, Who is it that wants to please the self?  Isn't it all Spirit?  Isn't every breath  we Breathe every step we take Inspiried?  Who is it that gets frustrated when things are difficult? or overjoyed because things are wonderful?  Ego is our motivation, it is the personality/character of the Spirit, we Need Ego to manifest and experience creation, even if through ego we choose negativity or selfishness or lack of gratitude,They are all experiences that Allow Spirit to know Who He/She really IS.



On May 5, 2013 amy wrote:

This day (and everyday), I am on a pilgrimage to Heaven.  I've learned (the hard way) through the course of this journey,  when "I tried" to walk "my way" (by my own power), I literally broke down.  It took me ten years to realize I needed to surrender all and plug into  "God Power".  No longer relying on "me" but rather HIM, I was able to walk again.     Brought up in a faith that required me "to walk a very tight rope".  (One misstep meant "consequences" . . . the greatest of which meant "not reaching heaven".)  After 30 years, in the "do do do" traveling mode, I got to the point of "collapse".   "God Power" (complete dependence on Him) freed me to "be".  To actually ENJOY the journey (this pilgrimage).   To allow God to lead . . . To allow God to carry my "backpack" . . .  To allow God to cover me . . . To allow God to do what only God can do . . . Draw me in to Him  I know where I'm going and I know Wh  See full.

This day (and everyday), I am on a pilgrimage to Heaven.  I've learned (the hard way) through the course of this journey,  when "I tried" to walk "my way" (by my own power), I literally broke down.  It took me ten years to realize I needed to surrender all and plug into  "God Power".  No longer relying on "me" but rather HIM, I was able to walk again.    
Brought up in a faith that required me "to walk a very tight rope".  (One misstep meant "consequences" . . . the greatest of which meant "not reaching heaven".)  After 30 years, in the "do do do" traveling mode, I got to the point of "collapse".  
"God Power" (complete dependence on Him) freed me to "be".  To actually ENJOY the journey (this pilgrimage).  
To allow God to lead . . .
To allow God to carry my "backpack" . . . 
To allow God to cover me . . .
To allow God to do what only God can do . . . Draw me in to Him
 I know where I'm going and I know Who walks before me  . . . 
My steps are light and purposeful . . . Drawn to Him . . . in and through His Own Most Holy Power.  Amen.
Previous reflections really touched my heart!  Thank you!  Love from me . . .  
    

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On May 5, 2013 david doane wrote:

 You never know where someone is coming from -- what is inside, what motivation and intention is operating, what the actual agenda is.  Often I don't even know where I'm coming from, how honest I'm being, what my intention really is.  Taking each footstep as an act of devotion toward something holy means to me to be sincere, behave out of my own inner truth, have integrity.  When I live that way, which is all too seldom, I am being whole which in my book means I am being holy.  When my climbing is selfless, my focus is the process of following my truth.  When ego-climbing, my focus is my trying to make a certain ego outcome happen.  When selfless, I don't know where my climbing is taking me except that it is line with real me.  When ego-climbing, I am climbing toward my ego goal.  A time that the difference between the two is clear to me is when I speak to impress compared to when I speak because what I have to say is true for me and I don'  See full.

 You never know where someone is coming from -- what is inside, what motivation and intention is operating, what the actual agenda is.  Often I don't even know where I'm coming from, how honest I'm being, what my intention really is.  Taking each footstep as an act of devotion toward something holy means to me to be sincere, behave out of my own inner truth, have integrity.  When I live that way, which is all too seldom, I am being whole which in my book means I am being holy.  When my climbing is selfless, my focus is the process of following my truth.  When ego-climbing, my focus is my trying to make a certain ego outcome happen.  When selfless, I don't know where my climbing is taking me except that it is line with real me.  When ego-climbing, I am climbing toward my ego goal.  A time that the difference between the two is clear to me is when I speak to impress compared to when I speak because what I have to say is true for me and I don't care what the other thinks of me.  When I do the latter, I feel a satisfaction, I am holy.  I ought to do it more often. 

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On May 3, 2013 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

Giving a hand to get something in return, name, fame and the like is ego-climbing.Giving a hand expecting nothing in return is selfless climbing. When we do such actions in our everyday for people we know or do not know is a spiritual way of living. I experience such simple acts of selfless and kindness everyday which makes my day. Such actions do not have to be big or heroic. Such actions are holy actions. I see such actions in the school where I teach,  in Trader Joes  where I shop, and  places I am not familiar.They are not pre planed and pre meditated. They are natural and spontaneous. These acts come from the heart, not the calculating mind. The more we get "schooled", the more we lose the natural ways of living.
Jagdish P Dave



On May 3, 2013 Ganoba wrote:

 For the last 30 years or so I have lived without a destination, physically and metaphorically.. I have lived moment to moment, taken life as it happened and responded to it intuitively. This has allowed me to experiment and to experience deeply. A lot of physical and intellectual baggage has fallen by the way. I can now feel and express myself much more easily, sometimes even gracefully. I can now play many roles and switch easily from one to the other.
I smile and life more often. I often cry like a child. .Almost nothing shocks me. My senses, particularly the sense of touch have really come alive. There are no strangers any more. The whole universe appears like a symphony.
I have no need to visit the so called holy places. All is holy, sacred and auspicious.



1 reply: Aj | Post Your Reply
On May 2, 2013 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:

 Pirsig is great.  I used his two books when I taught.  He is being a bit idealistic here to make a point for the reader.  After believing it is my path to be in the present and here,  I frequently find I am not here and out of the present.  When we notice we are one with everyone and everything, we are here.  As humans, I notice I and others frequently forget we are here now.  When one is partly here and partly in the now, movement toward the here and now may assist one to be in the here and now.  On the other hand, trying to be in the here and now is trying and is frequently not being here and now at that moment of trying. Being aware of the trying seems to be helpful. It is difficult to realize there's nothing to know, nothing to realize and nothing to attain.  As Gandhi or the Dalai llama said: "If you want others to be happy, be compassionate.  If you want to be happy, be compassionate.  I am most in the here and now whe  See full.

 Pirsig is great.  I used his two books when I taught.  He is being a bit idealistic here to make a point for the reader.  After believing it is my path to be in the present and here,  I frequently find I am not here and out of the present.  When we notice we are one with everyone and everything, we are here.  As humans, I notice I and others frequently forget we are here now.  When one is partly here and partly in the now, movement toward the here and now may assist one to be in the here and now.  On the other hand, trying to be in the here and now is trying and is frequently not being here and now at that moment of trying. Being aware of the trying seems to be helpful. It is difficult to realize there's nothing to know, nothing to realize and nothing to attain.  As Gandhi or the Dalai llama said: "If you want others to be happy, be compassionate.  If you want to be happy, be compassionate.  I am most in the here and now when I am compassionate to others and myself.  Perhaps you can tell from what I write,  Iis'm frequently in my head. I intellectualize a lot of about being in the here and now being compassionate etc. yet I still find I am frequently impatient..  If I were more patient more often I would be more compassionate, and in the here and now more frequently.  Thank you for the opportunity to respond.  Warm and kind regards to everyone.

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On May 2, 2013 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Simple questions that I ask myself are like this: Where am I at the present moment? Am I with myself totally when I am writing this reflection at this moment? Am I half here or half of my mind is somewhere else? When I listen to someone, am I totally with that person or my mind has already response to what you are saying? Am I listening and mentally talking at the same time? When I hold you, where am i? When I am with me where am I? Am I totally with me?  These are basic questions I ask myself in different contexts in my life: when I am by myself, when I eat, when I take a walk in the garden, listen to birds, when I listen to myself and to someone else who needs to be attended . Such encounters with myself, with nature and with people enrich my inner self and my relationship with others. I am a teacher in a Montessori school. I take time to build up relationships with my students, parents and fellow teachers by being fully present with them. I am also a psycho therapist. I  See full.

 Simple questions that I ask myself are like this: Where am I at the present moment? Am I with myself totally when I am writing this reflection at this moment? Am I half here or half of my mind is somewhere else? When I listen to someone, am I totally with that person or my mind has already response to what you are saying? Am I listening and mentally talking at the same time? When I hold you, where am i? When I am with me where am I? Am I totally with me? 

These are basic questions I ask myself in different contexts in my life: when I am by myself, when I eat, when I take a walk in the garden, listen to birds, when I listen to myself and to someone else who needs to be attended . Such encounters with myself, with nature and with people enrich my inner self and my relationship with others. I am a teacher in a Montessori school. I take time to build up relationships with my students, parents and fellow teachers by being fully present with them. I am also a psycho therapist. I help my clients to learn how  to listen to them fully, compassionately and non-judgmentally. I have learned that I cannot teach them unless I do that for me too.

I value and cherish such experiences enriching me and enriching my relationships. The Kailash is now and here. What we need is to remain awake, aware and  be fully present.

 Dr.Jagdish P Dave

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