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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To Be Re-born, You Have to Die First

First a brilliant quote.

I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty... But I am too busy thinking about myself.

Edith Sitwell, As quoted in The Observer (30 April 1950)
A few years ago, I found myself actively murdering my ego. This situation was brought about by the awakening and understanding that my false sense of self or ego, was preventing me from being happy and free. It had taken control of my life and had isolated me from the love of others. Being angry, depressed, and miserable is no way to live your life. And so I found myself at a crossroads. I could remain isolated and depressed. Or I could free myself. It was time to kill the hostage taker.

The good news is that I didn't leave a body behind. There was no crime to solve, no warrants of arrest, no burial.

I evaluated every belief system, every facet of my emotional life, and I put the pieces together and resolved them. As the dust settled on that part of the project, I took an inventory of the things that caused me the greatest distress. The first order of business was to eliminate alcohol or any mood altering drug from the solution list. I added mindless distractions. I did not watch 5 hours of TV that year.

I then compiled a list of things that I focused on each day. I meditated on them. At the top of that list was, "I will not take anything that is said or done in my presence, personally." At the bottom of that list was, "I will listen to everything that is said to me before thinking or talking."
(If anyone would care to know the full list, I still have it.)

This was my new blueprint for living. From the very start, miracles began happening in my life. I cannot begin to tell you the value of meditating and how my life dramatically changed. It was the best 5-10 minutes that I have ever spent. Soon, I was able to memorize that list and meditate on those things in the shower. After a year or so, and perhaps it is my nature, I became complacent. I quit meditating. I quickly forgot that fundamental part of my daily ritual.

We think nothing of showering or shaving each morning. Of drinking coffee. Perhaps even jogging or exercising as part of an exercise regimen. This is part of our daily preparation. Why then would we skip the most important preparation of all? A daily plan for how we were going to perceive and conduct ourselves all day long. A plan that focuses on our flaws and enhances the lives of the people we come in contact with- our family, friends, and co-workers.

I made a number of observations this past week. Reminders of what it used to be like. I don't want to return there. I have no intention of letting a zombie hostage taker in the back door.

That I had forgotten the most important step of my sanity is evidence that I am complacent, lazy, and terminally human. I am grateful that I have the experience to know what works. I am fully aware of the damage that thinking about myself causes, just as that old poet Edith Sitwell pointed out. That's bad news for any would be hostage taker. Good news for the people in my life.


  1. Brunolem here, returning the favor.
    Your posts are certainly on a deeper level than mine...
    Yet, my book is about spirituality, the failures of our civilization and a possible better future... after a lot of pain.