What are the things you are most identified with? Perhaps your work, family relationships, social status, or possessions?
How about your physical appearance – do you dress or groom yourself a certain way in order to appeal to others?
Do you have special talents that you are proud of?
How about a political or nationalistic belief system?
If a stranger came up to you at a cocktail party and asked, “Tell me about yourself,” how would you respond?
Most likely your answer points to the things you identify as you.
Go ahead and fill in the blank on how you would describe yourself: I am _____.
Look at your answer and honestly assess your identifications.
The truth is that none of these is you.
You are not the sum of what you have, what you do, or what others think about you.
You are not even your body.
But this concept, even if we can slightly appreciate it intellectually, is so far from our experience.
That’s why we all relate to ourselves as bodies that work to amass possessions and interact with other bodies in various forms of relationships.
But that’s also why we suffer.
We suffer because deep down we know that our bodies will eventually get sick and deteriorate. We know that other bodies – particularly ones we care about – will also do the same. In fact, we know that we will eventually lose everything that we now possess.
And even on a shorter time scale, we suffer because we don’t get things we want (respect, attention, various possessions, love, etc.) or we lose things we value (money, people, jobs, health, etc.).
While we might experience moments of peace, health, and love – on some level we know that it won’t last and that suffering soon awaits us.
But that doesn’t have to be our experience.
In order to truly live, we need to die before we die.
Not in a near-death experience kind of way.
Rather, we need to let go of the need to define ourselves – our identity – based on what we have, what we do, and what others think of us.
This is the death of the ego.
We still do all the things that normal people do: have jobs, have relationships, have families, amass possessions, and so forth. But our identity is no longer tied up in any of these.
When we can truly let go of our ego – and in a sense, die before we die – then our sense of self transcends anything in the world. And we experience an extraordinary sense of peace and happiness that is beyond belief.
Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore this concept of dying before we die and how we can practice letting go of our ego-sense of self. I look forward to seeing you then.