Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ego Death in Sufism



It's grotesque irony of 2017 to write about ego when a few blocks away from me, a man completely ruled by ego is taking oath as leader of the free world, whose self -if scanned by an alien scanner - would only reveal the ruthless pursuit of his ego; riding on the waves of other egotists  with threatened ego’s resolving their identity crisis by hating anyone of different religion or color or language.
Sufism is a war against Ego, its poetry, music and discourses want to lighten the hold ego has on human psyche and ultimately destroy it completely.

Ego is not an anatomical structure. It’s not something that you will see on an X-ray. Ego is an informational structure. That’s what the term ego means: it is a Latinized translation of “das Ich,” which is German for “the I.”
https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QQqWgGWuII8/ULeIbu6fd8I/AAAAAAAAAdI/1GvAOvUHS_k/s320/Picasso-3women.jpeg “The I” is “the information” that you have about you. It is a mind made created story. The story is useful but a time comes when the story becomes toxic. “The I” (ego) balances on identification with impermanent information.

So long as we do not die to ourselves,
and so long as we identify with someone or something,
we shall never be free.
The spiritual way is not for those wrapped up in exterior life. 
 Farid ud Din Attar


What Attar refers to as your external cloak is really your ego!

Ego is impermanence of form. Self-esteem, self-worth, self-view are various ego forms, various forms of information that we have about ourselves. Ego is information about our form, not about our essence.
Forms change. “How” you are at any given point isn’t fixed—it’s in constant flux.

The False Mirrors of EGO

When I became a seeker, I started asking people what they wanted in life and their answers always revolved around egoic desires: money; validation from opposite sex; validation from parents; from society------it was all ego noise. They had never gone inside of themselves to ask themselves what they really wanted to do.

Avicenna has listed these false mirrors of ego to dissolve before a seeker can identify his real self;


The Mirror of Reflection
The Mirror of Others’ Minds, 
The Mirror of Possessions 
The Mirror of Body 
The Mirror of Time, Memory
The Mirror of Beloved
The Mirror of Consciousness

We are all captives of these mirrors: we draw our egoic identity from being superior/prettier/richer than other people. Once you study yourself in these mirrors you will see that 9 of these mirrors offer you nothing but distortions - you are not how you look, you are not others’ thoughts about you, you are not your body, you are not even your own thoughts about you, and so on and so
Liberation is a liberation from all boundaries.

There is a deceptively simple tenth century book called the "Creed of Imam al-Tahawi. One of the first lessons is that God is not bound by anything, and is not bound by being not bound by anything. Sufi poets say that true humanity is not bound by anything, that your true essence is locked in a series of cages.

The cage of gender and cast.

The cage is your personal history and the notion of time and memory.
The cage of society, with its institutionalized restrictions (often on appropriate and forbidden relationships).

It’s only the 10th mirror (the Mirror of Consciousness) - the mirror of meditation - the inner mirror - that allows you to catch a true glimpse of your essential self.

Nazism or racism is stuck on the mirror of identity; glorify the one lie you and demonize the one different from you. A racist’s entire identity is defined by the chance of his birth; he is nothing beyond being white or yellow.

To begin with, the mirror gives us only an image, and this is a triviality; A MIRAGE.
You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.
What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean.
Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient.
It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these.
So- I've brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.  RUMI


The spiritual masters tell us that if we knew the truth and had a glimpse of the divine reality, we would not bother with all the hide and seek of the ego-personality and the unhappy consequences it brings.


Nothing can kill the nafs like the shadow of the master

hold tight to his skirt for he is a good killer of your self
Your lower self is after material affairs
         how long will you trade in unworthy affairs, give them up
Someone who says ‘I am thinking to deny my lower self’
         is still captive to the lower self

And he who says, ‘God is merciful and kind’
         is also being manipulated by that wretched self
                                          
Rumi 


We are being warned that the most important work of the seeker is the difficult task of subduing the authority of the nafs, as it is our most dangerous enemy. One metaphor used to describe how one must deal with the self is:

Imprisoning it - killing it - burning it - and scattering its ashes.

Sufism imprisons the self. Abstaining from materialism kills it. Love of God burns it. 

Gnosis scatters the ashes of the self, eliminating all of its traces.

Until one hair strand of your being you, remains
          the business of vanity and self-praise, remains
You said, ‘I broke the idol of my mind, therefore I am free’
          this idol ‘that you are free from your mind’, still remains
                                                                              Moulana Rumi

The ego  uses everything for its own benefit, including truth, justice, fairness and even God. It even worships God to get something in return. Therefore the self needs to be dismantled.

A true believer and an infidel both say ‘God’
          but there is a difference between the two
The beggar (infidel) says ‘God’ for the sake of bread
          the true believer says ‘God’ in his very soul” 
                                                                              Moulana Rumi


If we can break through the illusion of identifying with our ego as the only reality; we would find our true sole purpose.  

Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) says:
“He who knows his self knows his Lord.”


Prophet Jesus (pbuh) says:
“One who knows all, but is lacking in oneself, is utterly lacking.” 

                                                  
I hope that we can start this new year by walking away from our ego and its wars, and trying to find our true essence away from the masks and cages that ego imposes on us. 

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