This is a guest post by RF Grant.
Through many years of conditioning—specifically as a result of competitive society—humans haven’t had much of a choice but to practice the “ego” state of mind continually. According to Eastern thought, this is the mind that constantly measures, compares, or identifies all sense-objects in reality. When we analyze most modernized, capitalistic societies, we see an underlying value within its people’s minds: a carnivorous mentality of competitiveness pervading our every choice.
Somehow, the perceived rewards of this state are yielded materialistically. It doesn’t matter who you are—if you’re driving the newest car, owning property spanning several thousand square feet, wearing designer clothing, and living through the illusions of the internet to prove it to strangers—these qualities belong, by most standards, to someone who’s admirable, someone who’s made it, a desirable person anyone would want in their life. As long as one continues to grow their material wealth and net worth, they will be adored, accepted, and loved; anything to make us compare ourselves to those passd on the streets every day. Anything to make us measure our bank account zeros to our neighbor’s. Anything to create an identity which separates us from the meaningless herd from which we belong.
But beneath it all, what is this perpetual state of mind really doing to us? What is it doing to our sentimentalism, our emotional well-being—even our souls?
Buddhism refers to the ego-mind as the root of all suffering. In Christianity, the comparable term is, perhaps, pride. Sects of Hinduism philosophize extensively on the nature of the ego in the Upanishads, exhaustively stating that its mindset—the mind which compares, measures, and identifies everything—is illusory. That it belongs to the projection of Māyā: the illusion, our world.
Buddhists believe that Taṇhā, or craving, is a primary reason why we are reborn into this cyclical world. The insatiable craving for worldly things—expensive cars, money, property, and the influence it will have on others—is the reason why our souls cannot ascend to higher realms when we die. Buddhists believe the soul’s intent using the mind causes its destination, and Taṇhā (craving for the things of this world) is a conscious intent conditioned by such things as ignorance and society.
Like an addiction, our sense of craving for the world, its objects, and the influence, won’t fade until our consciousness expands outside of the state that addiction originally placed us into. Even in Biblical scripture, John 2:16 – 17 states, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
So, why has the majority turned out this way? Generally, why are the values of the majority of people in this modern world completely against the syncretic path all religions have placed before us? It’s a hard question. Perhaps it is the Great Test underlying our daily troubles. Whether you believe in this article or not—whether you believe in what religions are preaching or not—go out into the world tomorrow. Start to experience it differently; as fragmented. See it in the eyes of the people around you, in the wilderness and its sights and sounds. Listen, look. Pay attention. Be aware. There might be a substratum behind the façade of everyday life.
Just for a day, pull away from constantly attempting to outdo those in your social life. Instead, see them as God’s creatures, each with a special gift they can offer. Love them instead of one-upping them. Listen instead of talking. See one another for our sufferings rather than what we own and what we’re trying to prove. And always, always ask questions—about others, about yourself, about the nature of our world. Perhaps then, a new path begins. One which leads to the reconciliation of opposites.
©2015 Works of R. F. Grant | www.rfgrant.com