A Zen student comes to see master Bankei with the hope to get some advice to manage his anger. He tells him, “Master, I have an ungovernable temper. How can I cure it?”
The master thinks it sounds fascinating and asks the student to show him this temper he is talking about. “I don’t have it right now,” says the student, “so I am not able to show it to you.”
The sage then asks the student to bring it to him as soon as he has it. “I can’t bring it to you when I have it,” replies the student, “because it arises unexpectedly, and I will probably lose it before I get back to you.”
“In that case,” Bankei protests, “it cannot be part of your true nature. If it were, you’d be able to show it to me any time.”
Do you find yourself thinking or saying, “I am this way or that way,” as if some of your traits were fixed? I hear people describe themselves with terms such as “very private,” “too sensitive,” or “very insecure,” and although it’s important to recognize everything we are, the ego-mind is a trickster that often boxes you in a distorted self-perception to rob you of new possibilities of experience.
Ego can be compared to a pair of scissors cutting and compartmentalizing your perception, to fixate on particular things while leaving others out—especially those leading to emotional freedom. These patterns of thought and perception were shaped according to which aspects of yourself were or weren’t appreciated and nurtured as a child, and the things that were valued in your environment. You established self-images early on to suit the expectations of those you loved, at the expense of your self-expression, but as an adult they’re mental traps limiting how you experience life.
You’ve been repeating those same thoughts and beliefs even with enough life experience to know that they’re not necessarily true, because you are multifaceted; some people may trigger certain things in you while other people may awaken others aspects, or different situations may require more or less of an emotional effort on your part to deal with or work through.
You are indeed a multilayered soul searching for yourself. You may have tendencies that prompt you to define yourself as being this or that, but if you really want to know and embrace all of who you are you must stop accepting these mental boxes as fixed. Otherwise you’ll prevent yourself from stretching beyond what’s familiar and the roles you had to assume growing up and have unconsciously identified with.
You Must Disbelieve the Ego-Mind To Know the Real You
Perhaps you had to be the “positive” or the “responsible” one in the family; or maybe the “fixer” or “scapegoat” to compensate for some of the dysfunctional dynamics between those you lived with. But isn’t it time to give yourself permission to behave and respond according to what you want your life-movie to be, regardless of what others may think, say, or do? It requires developing emotional flexibility to make conscious choices rather than just following familiar impulses.
Certain qualities are part of your nature, they’re tendencies deeply wired in your subonscious and directing your journey, but most of what you consider your personality has been conditioned through past experiences and keeps you emotionally stuck in the past. The true you is always seeking expansion and freedom, so you can bet that anything blocking your full self-expression out of a sense of obligation or shame is definitely not who you truly are.
One aspect of the mind labels and organizes things to make them easier to understand; this is a masculine, judging capacity that your ego turns into an inner bully (your “sense of otherness”) that judges you according to what others have judged in you, because it keeps you comparing yourself and identifying with their viewpoint.
Another aspect of the mind is more feminine and inwardly oriented, thus connecting you to the fluidity of life rather than a compartmentalized perception. It allows for the expression of your inner voice and deeper aspects of your soul. But it’s subtle, which often creates confusion or contradictions with the external reality you identify with.
Both aspects must be balanced and integrated to promote a stronger sense of self and relinquish all definitions, self-images, or the need for external validation. In other words, without a mutually supportive dynamic between the Feminine and Masculine within you, your mind will pull you in different directions, preventing you from enjoying a fuller experience of life and opening your perception to new and better experiences. Doing so requires breaking free from any mental box—your own attachments and fixed ideas about yourself.
So rather than labeling who you think you are, which for the most part is a reflection of other people’s perception and expectations you’ve been conditioned with, have the courage and determination to stretch beyond the familiar and get to know the real YOU: what motivates you and why, what connects or disconnects you from yourself, and what your life and potential are all about. Contact me today to get started on your path to emotional and spiritual freedom!
© 2016 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.