Here’s another installment in a series of emails that took place between Michael and one of his senior students beginning in August of 2009. May you find the exchange interesting and enriching.
July 29, 2010 (#22)
Student: Would it be accurate to say that the ego is strengthened each time we believe that something is wrong? I am noticing something nudging me to believe that there is something wrong with the fact that, even with negative stuff happening, I still don’t think there is anything wrong.
Michael: You mean in some way there is a presence in you that is seeing things as situations rather than as problems?
Student: I guess. Maybe, but I still don’t get what the heck is up with the ego not giving up trying to make me take things personally? Does the nudge ever go away completely? And when the so-called negative happenings are being let slide by without grabbing and coddling and the valuing of them like I used to do, then, other people come to me with their “problems.” Funny. Living from this place, I am finding, is not seen by most people. It feels oddly alienating and I hear the ego telling me to forget all of this teaching, go back to the group and then I won’t be alone. All will be okay again. But of course this is ridiculous and can’t be done. Something deep in me knows that there’s no turning back. Oy!
Michael: There’s a lot to work with here in that you’ve rattled off a series of stories, all of which have inertia. Remember that ego’s primary job is to protect itself by clinging to whatever it thinks will keep it safe. So, by extension, ego clinging to stories about what is “negative” or “personal” and what isn’t is the same thing as ego working to keep itself large and in charge. Seeing through this folly gives birth to a wisdom that, like you said, is alienating. But we can’t go back. We can only keep heroically exploring our tendencies and habits in order to see through them. Once we can do this, we also see that there is no such thing as alienation except to the thing in us that has felt separate all along.
Student: The ego?
Student: So in a weird way I guess we can hope that negativity and personal interpretations of situations don’t die off. Because they won’t. They’ll always be there if the ego is in charge. But if we can stabilize a sense experience that goes beyond our clinging we can continually relate to our negativity from a much broader perspective.
Michael: Well put. Are you ready?