Friday, November 28, 2014

Painful Mistaken Identity

     As a result of emotional wounding, we contract around an identity that slowly becomes fixed and solid. We come to mistakenly assume that we are this painful, defective, solid thing.

     "It can take a sophisticated insight to understand the nature of our emotional wounding and the patterns and defenses that crystallize around it. ...

     When I experience something threatening or insulting me I experience a kind of contraction in myself that grasps at a sense of me. This is a tangible, almost physical contraction that causes a strong emotional tightening in my chest. From this place, before I have a chance to do anything about it, I can react defensively with anger or aggression to protect myself. Alternatively, I may feel hurt or insulted and withdraw into myself for comfort and safety. In all of these reactions I can feel a vivid expression of my grasping at a solid sense of me. At first, this sense of me and its defensive reactions feels as though they relate to something that is a definite central part of me, something solid that must be defended. Only by looking more deeply will I begin to recognize that these reactions hold on to something that is not actually substantial, and they paint a picture of the world that is not real. Even though I may have feelings that I am hurt, frightened, or rejected, if I look deeply at this reactive me, I can see that it is not fixed, permanent, or true. There is no solid base for its existence. It is not to be found in my body, feelings, mind, perceptions, and so on as something existent.
     The emotional process is real enough, but the 'I' that I am grasping at as a fixed sense of self doesn't exist. It is like an emotionally charged bubble that pops when looked at more closely. As this bubble pops, the sense of contracted surface tension that held it together begins to open. A quality of inner space begins to be restored that is not tight and contracted.
     The recognition of the lack of solid self and the subsequent release of the contraction around it don't mean we have no ego at all. It is important to distinguish between normal, functional ego that acts as a focus of our relationship to the world and this emotionally charged solid sense of ego.
     ... It is not the ego that needs to go but the ego-grasping that holds on to a self as solid and ultimately existent."

       Preece R. "The Wisdom of Imperfection. The Challenge of Individuation in Buddhist Life." Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca NY, 2006.

Antonio Celso Lima Mollo, National Geographic

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