"Listen to people's stories and they could all be entitled, 'Why I Cannot Be At Peace Now.'"
This is a quote from the philosopher Eckhart Tolle's non-fiction book A New Earth.
I was driving on the Highway 880 at 10:30 at night listening to Tolle's book on CD.
I thought: this is the essential dramatic question.
I also thought about how nervous I was, I was not at peace, especially with the Escalade SUV coming up behind me at a roaring 150 mph.
Could you possibly GET A BIGGER CAR? Couldn't you GO FASTER, you son-of-a bitch?
The light from the full moon sparkled on the water surrounding the San Mateo Bridge. It's like water-skiing in your car, when you're driving on that bridge. Or flying into nowhere and about to be blown to pieces because of the IDIOT IN THE GARGANTUAN SUV.
My ego wanted to protect my ego.
No, I was not at peace. Why can't I be at peace? Why aren't we at peace? Why do we have huge inflated egos that want to drive THE BIGGEST CAR IN THE WORLD, A CAR BIGGER THAN THE WORLD?
If the ego is such a fucking (excuse me, I'm not at peace) problem, than why were we given an ego?
All the spiritual teachers say the same thing: our ego is the problem. Our maniacal roller coaster ego that thinks, as Anne Lamott once said, "I am the piece of shit around which the universe revolves."
Why were we given an ego that we have to learn how to develop, then maintain, protect, defend, then struggle with, then become aware of how ridiculous it is, and then transcend it?
Without that ego, there would be no stories. We would just drive around all day (going the speed limit) in our small cars, saying, "Bless you. I'm at peace. Namaste."
Let's face it. So much of what goes on in the world that's negative is just because we're bored. Plus the ego's need (need need need) to feel superior.
Why are we here at all is another question although kind of useless. The point is, we are here. Here we are with our big fat conflicted non-peaceful needy egos, thrashing around with ourselves and others. Every once in awhile there's a lull. Like when everyone's asleep. Or they're satisfied for two minutes, usually over a glass of wine, waiting for a delicious dinner to be served, the warm lulling smell of mashed potatoes wafting in from the kitchen.
"Gimme, gimme, gimme," says the ego. Remember when you were a little kid and you stood on the diving board, yelling at your mother: "Look at me, look at me, look at me!!"
I'm writing these words right now because of my ego.
My ego thinks I'm so clever. I'm so funny. I'm pretty cute, too. But those eyelids. And that neck. I need a face lift a body lift an ego lift.
Here's what Tolle says about cleverness:
"Cleverness pursues its own little aims. Intelligence sees the larger whole in which all things are connected. Cleverness is motivated by self-interest, and it is extremely short-sighted. Cleverness divides; intelligence includes."
Wow. I've spent a lot of my life being clever. That hurts. "Ouch," says my ego. "I need a drink, I need a cookie, I need a chocolate bar, I need a cigarette, I need someone to fuck me twelve ways to Sunday."
See, I can't stop being clever. And swearing. Why can't I stop using the word fuck? Because I AM NOT AT PEACE.
More Tolle: "The ego creates separation, and separation creates suffering. The ego is clearly pathological. Apart from the obvious ones such as anger, hatred, and so on, there are other more subtle forms of negativity that are so common they are usually not recognized as such, for example, impatience, irritation, nervousness, and being "fed up." They constitute the background unhappiness that is many people's predominant inner state. Negativity is not intelligent. It is always the ego."
So when you are negative, you are being stupid. Wow. I am so stupid, I can't believe it. And I have a Master's Degree in Literature. And I am teaching your children.
"How dare you!" I used to say that all the time. "I'm fed up!" I've said that a ton of times, too. How about you? "I've had enough of this shit!" "Fuck it!" "Get your goddamn fucking piece of shit ESCALADE SUV OFF MY ASS!"
My ego loves to swear and be clever and negative. FEED ME MORE, it says.
Well, Tolle says, "The ego doesn't know that your only opportunity for being at peace is now. Peace, after all, is the end of the ego. How to be at peace now? By making peace with the present moment. Once you have made peace with the present moment, see what happens. There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret to all success and happiness: One With Life. You don't live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance."
I swear. Wowza.
Okay, so I've decided to try an experiment. I'm not going to swear or be clever or negative for a week and see what happens.
Wait. How about a day? I'm going to try a day first. One day at a time. And then move on to two days. Then to three and build up to a week.
I will write next time on how it's all going. Being clever, I think, will be the toughest challenge. Isn't there egoless cleverness?
All right, I have to include this quote from Tolle because here he defines ego and at the same time, he tells us that there is "Incontrovertible Proof of Immortality."
The ego likes that: it says, "Fabulous! I'm immortal!"
"Ego comes about through a split in the human psyche in which identity separates into two parts that we could call "I" and "me" or "me" and "myself." Every ego is therefore schizophrenic, to use a word in its popular meaning of split personality. You live with a mental image of yourself, a conceptual self that you have a relationship with. Life itself becomes conceptualized and separated from who you are when you speak of "my life." The moment you say or think "my life" and believe in what you are saying (rather than it just being a linguistic convention) you have entered the realm of delusion. If there is such a thing as "my life," it follows that I and life are two separate things, and so I can also lose my life, my imaginary treasured possession. Death becomes a seeming reality and a threat. Words and concepts split life into separate segments that have no reality in themselves. We could even say the notion "my life" is the original delusion of separateness, the source of ego. If "I" and "life" are two, if I am separate from life, then I am separate from all things, all beings, all people. But how could I be separate from life? What "I" could there be apart from life, apart from Being? It is impossible. So there is no such thing as "my life" and I don't have a life. I am life. I and life are one. It cannot be otherwise. How can I lose something that I don't have in the first place? How can I lose something that I Am? It is impossible."
So the next time you say, "I don't have a life" or "Get a life," remember, you don't have a life to get. What a relief.
Okay, on with my experiment: being at peace now, no negativity, no cleverness, no swearing. I'm going to play golf today with my husband, so let's see if I can play golf without swearing. And let me amend the above "my" husband." There is no such thing. I'm going to play golf today with Kenneth. Holy Fuck! I mean, Wowza!
Causes Susan Browne Supports
Run Together, A Race to Raise Money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society