The Tightrope of Human Experience – Part 2

Here is Part 2 of my article ……

So the large-scale interpretation of service is not what’s important here.  Making your life one of service doesn’t mean contributing lots of time and money to charitable endeavors. I’m talking about a change of mindset. Deepak Chopra, in his book “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” suggests that if we go from thinking “What’s in it for me,” to “How can I help,” your attitude changes immensely. Maybe it’s just making a cup of tea for someone who’s had a bad day.  The pressure is off because the ego, for that moment, is no longer concerned with itself. The pitfall here, of course, is to expect something in return for your kindness, like recognition or repayment of some kind.  If that happens then you are acting from ego and not from your true self. If you really want to help you have to do it without any agenda. You need to delete, “What’s in it for me” from your language. When you can do that, you relax and flow more easily with life. Only then will a sense of equilibrium be established.

Also, the time has come to do away with the notion of “Every man for himself.” This idea doesn’t fly anymore. “What do you mean?” you may ask, “I have to look out for myself.” What I mean is the only reason we feel we have to look out for ourselves is because that is what everyone else is doing.  We are not on a sinking ship without enough lifeboats, although life may sometimes feel that way. Yes, we must do what is best for ourselves. But when we think only of ourselves we become selfish and narcissistic. “Every man for himself,” is first cousin to, “What’s in it for me.” It is the ego reacting out of fear, clamoring not just for attention, but also for the things it thinks it needs. Unfortunately, fear is what motivates many people’s lives.  We may often feel like we are indeed on that sinking ship without a lifeboat. Or up on that tightrope by ourselves. And if you think about it, this feeling of helplessness, this fear of loss, prevents us from achieving equilibrium because we are only doing what is best for ourselves and not, as John Nash suggested, doing what is best for ourselves and for everyone else. Remember, the ego is never satisfied – and it is never not fearful. In the fulfillment of one desire lies the seed of another. And so it goes….No equilibrium. No easy flow with life.

Physicists have confirmed that the nature of matter cannot be found in objects but in energetic interconnections. Remember this quote from Albert Einstein, “A human being is a part of a whole…. (but) he experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” There’s no escaping it – we are all in this life together to a much greater extent than we ever imagined.

Let’s get back to that cup of tea. Einstein recognized that it is easy to do something nice for those we love. But how about doing something nice for someone we don’t like? Someone we perceive as our enemy.  We should be grateful for those people because they are our greatest teachers. What we don’t like about someone is usually something we don’t like about ourselves. They are our mirrors and we should take a good long look. When you can get past your ego, which lives in fear (or pride, which is just another form of fear) then you are able to connect with the other person in an honest and real way.

If we really looked at Nash’s theory and took Einstein’s advice we could all exist in a state of peace within movement, which of course, is equilibrium. There would be a natural and uncomplicated flow to our lives, not unlike those organisms and molecules. The point here is that we are not alone. Even with our alleged differences we should be able to find comfort in the knowledge that we do not have to walk that tightrope by ourselves. And that should enable each one of us to overcome our petty likes and dislikes to embrace even those from whom we withhold our affection… and our help. To look into another’s eyes is to see oneself. It’s not just you up there on that tightrope. I’m up there too. And I could use your help getting to the other side.

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