It is time to sit still in a room, alone, and ponder.
"All of man's troubles come from his inability to sit alone, quietly, in a room, for any length of time." (-- Blaise Pascal)
This room, silent this morning following snow/ice storm, scent of Tibetan incense mingling with organic Echinacea
tea, harbor open of ice.
In cold weather I always to go sleep early,
Not waiting for the sunlight to withdraw.
I never shut my cottage door,
Lest it keep the mountain monkeys out.
Falling leaves strike the window;
At my pillow it seems like raindrops.
Rising, I gaze at the western peaks;
The moon has set, the stars are twinkling.
- Wen-siang (1210-1280)
I've sometimes thought of 'ego' as that which is opposing God. (I recall someone's
'elide God out' for 'ego'). We'd have to ask what God is in order to grasp the opposing of God.
These mornings I think of God as the Open, Itself, Origin.
We don't 'know' God. We approach the Open, as Ourselves, Anew. By this I mean that God is not 'something' -- nor are we. God, and thus we, are ever-being-revealed, where we are revealed, as we are revealed.
It scares me to contemplate this. I am not there, not anywhere, when God is with me. Always inchoate. Always nascent. Always alone. (All ways, all one.) Of course, a voice inserts, each of us is distinct, particular, and connected. And, yes, each has history -- as does the world. Still, God is what is taking place this moment; God is this moment speaking. Silence, curiously, is the language of God.
The Enemy Within
An interview with Archimandrite Dionysios
This article first appeared in What is Enlightenment Magazine, Issue 17, “What is Ego? Friend or Foe...” Spring–Summer 2000
What Is Enlightenment: What is the ego?
Archimandrite Dionysios: When Satan, who was the first and highest angel, looked away from God and turned his attention to himself, there we had the first seed of ego. He took his spiritual eyes from the view of the Holy Trinity, the view of the Lord, and he looked at himself and started to think about himself. And he said, “I want to put my throne in the highest place, and to be like Him.” That moment started the history, the reality and the existence of ego—which is not in fact a reality, but the refusal of reality. Ego is the flower that comes out from the death of love. When we kill love, the result is the ego.
WIE: What is the character of the ego? How does it manifest within a human being?
Dionysios: When we don’t trust. Ego is born when we don’t trust others. When we’re afraid of others, when we need guns against others, then we need to have an ego because we are in the wrong way of life. We think only of ourselves, and we see only our ego. But when we see each other, when we trust each other, there is no need for ego, no reason for ego, no possibility for ego.
WIE: So in the way you’re speaking about it then, ego is the insistence on our separation, our independence?
Dionysios: Yes, on our solitude. Our need to be alone, to have our own way of thinking that satisfies us and preserves our personality in the wrong way.
WIE: Putting ourselves first and foremost?
Dionysios: Yes. And Christ said, “The last is the first.” Because when you want to be the last and you choose the last seat, only then may you call the others friends of yours.
WIE: The ego, this sense of self-importance you’ve been speaking about, is often described in The Philokalia and other writings of the Christian mystics as the primary enemy with which the spiritual aspirant must wrestle in their quest for union with God. Why is the ego considered to be such a formidable adversary on the path?
Dionysios: It is such a powerful enemy because it is the enemy within us. We are enemies to ourselves, like Adam and Eve in paradise. Of course, the snake talked to Eve. But she could have avoided him. The snake said to her, “The Lord lied to you,” but if she would have trusted the Lord, she would not have started to talk to the snake. And Adam, too, lost his communication with the Lord and stayed with his ego. And the two egos worked together, Adam and Eve.
The real enemy is the ego. It is the enemy because it is against love. When I look at myself, I don’t love others. When I want to occupy for myself what is yours, I become the killer of my brother, like Cain killed Abel. When I want to satisfy myself, this satisfaction is gained through sacrificing the freedom of the other. Then my ego becomes my lord, my god, and there is no stronger temptation than this. Because to us, this ego may seem like a diamond. It has a shine like gold. But whatever is shining is not gold. The ego is just like a fire without light, a fire without warmth, a fire without life. It seems that it has many sides and many possibilities—but what is this possibility? What is ego? Only the means by which I protect myself as if I were in a battle, as if every other person is my enemy, and the only thing I care about is winning the victory.
( from The Enemy Within, An interview with Archimandrite Dionysios, Monk, Greek Orthodox, in What is Enlightenment Magazine (now EnlightenNext Magazine), Issue 17 / Spring–Summer 2000, "What Is Ego? Friend Or Foe...")
Love of the beautiful/holy/good/exalted is what the word 'Philokalia
' translates as.
We long for "What Is" beautiful/holy/good/exalted.
Sitting alone, breathing, not actively thinking nor grasping on to thoughts passing, everything is --and is in -- itself.
Itself, as in, not other than.