| Anne Williamson |
Oh, the ego! Such a tiny word, so many disparate opinions. Am I to love my ego or hate it? Embrace it or reject it? Is ambivalence a healthy choice?
For me, the jury is still out. However, I did recently run across an illuminating perspective. It comes from Vedic philosophy. (The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in India 3000 years ago; they are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.) In this philosophy, there is a Sanskrit term ahamkara that is related to the ego. Essentially, my true self or soul, atma, enters a state of ahamkara when my mind begins identifying this true self/soul with external things, whether they be material (e.g., my body, possessions, kids) or conceptual (e.g. my thoughts, memories, preferences). In the Vedic tradition, this identification is an illusion.
In connecting this perspective to the Western term ego, some say ahamkara is the ego, others that the ego helps construct the illusion. Either way, my own experience supports this Vedic idea that to connect to - perhaps even reside in - my true self or soul is to stop my mind from identifying so heavily with the material or conceptual things around it. The truest, wisest part of me - the part that knows what really matters, what brings me real joy, what lessons I'm here to learn - is most accessible when I'm not in a state of ahamkara.
I don't necessarily think this means the ego is entirely bad. Perhaps it serves a purpose. In fact, perhaps to claim the ego as 100% bad is a kind of ahamkara in and of itself: another concept to which we incorrectly identify.
Wherever you land on the ego debate, experience and our traditions teach us that moving beyond our egos, out of a state of ahamkara, at least temporarily, is important. This is what the practices of prayer, meditation, yoga and fasting, and the sacraments of eucharist, reconciliation, and marriage, to name a few, are meant to do for us: move us beyond material or conceptual identifications to the true self or soul.
This then is why, with the hope of connecting to what brings us real joy – especially as we enter America’s consumerist season - we're spending our next community week using the practices of yoga, energy work and art to move us beyond our egos. Some of the practices may be unfamiliar to you – that’s okay. The object is not perfection; it is to use movement and creativity to open us up to our true self or soul. It will be fun, and calling all skeptics, meaningful! I hope you’ll take the risk and join us...
Moving Into Real Joy
Sunday, November 1, 11a - 12p
Wellness Center @ The Rivi (5640 N. Illinois Street, 46208)
This event is open to the public and whole family! Please RSVP to email@example.com
Sugguested donation: $10 per person