There is a popular song in Brazil called 'Modinha para Gabriela' by Dorival Caymmi and sung by Gal Costa:
I was born like this, I grew up like this, I am really like this
I will always be like this, Gabriela, always Gabriela
In my last post about not killing the ego, I shared about the limitations of looking at the world through a keyhole. With apologies to anyone who is called Gabriela, I will use the example of this song. By the words, it is clear that she is stuck in her identity as Gabriela, which probably includes her body, her roles and most definitely,her story. She is so caught up in the idea of Gabriela that she does not believe that she can change.
Sometimes we get so self-absorbed, that we can't see beyond our own limitations. I remember once I was preparing for a presentation and while setting up the projector, a woman participating in the course, asked me if we could have a chat about something personal. I told her that I was busy but I would be very glad to sit with her during the break. Apparently, she didn't hear me and started to tell me her story. After some time I again interrupted her and told her that I was not listening because I had to finish what I was doing and again I said that I would meet her during the break. She continued to speak for another five minutes and I went on with what I was doing. Finally, she thanked me for giving her time and she went away. I had no idea what she was talking about. When I met her at the break, I asked if she wanted to speak to me now. She said it was okay since we had spoken earlier in the morning. Then it occurred to me, how much we can get absorbed in our stories to the point that we don't realise what is going on around us. After all she spoke to me for tem minutes withou realising I wasn't paying attention.
When we build ourselves into an identity, characterised by the song above, the Gabriela-like ego filters everything.
If there is offense, Gabriela is offended. Because of insecurity, Gabriela is lost in a game of comparing herself with others, of comparing her present with her past, of comparing her present with a host of possible fantasised futures. She tends to see others' defects in the light of her own virtues and others' virtues in the light of her lack of them. She needs to be right as often as she can so as to satisfy her own sense of being Gabriela.
The diagram shows what we need to do in order to change constant self referencing to our own Gabriela-like egos.
There are three elements that we need to introduce into our self conversations:
- I am the spiritual being, conscious energy or soul and I have a body. It is my instrument for expressing what is in me, and experiencing the result of that expression. This consciousness opens the door to be able to see others as souls, and even to perceive dimensions beyond this physical one. After all, if I am a spiritual energy, and not my material form, there are other questions to consider. If I'm not matter, then I did not come from matter. The place we try to reach one we meditate or pray and is remembered in all religious traditions - heaven or nirvana - is a dimension of light, the home of souls.
- I am the actor and I have many roles variously connected with my family, profession, social interactions and even culture, religion and nationality. I am one and the roles are many. If I have this consciousness, I can administer them better. When I'm with family, I play my family roles. At work, I put those particular hats on and do what I have to do. Coming from one solid identity, I can control my thoughts and feelings related to each role better. I can see that every single human being is an actor in this play of life. I cannot control anyone else's roles. I have to pay attention to my own roles, to see how to harmonise with those of others.
- I am not my story. I am the protagonist of it. At a particular point in my mother's pregnancy. I came into the womb, and started giving life to my tiny body. At another moment in the future, I will leave it. In this way, I can understand that I have been around before this life, and after it also, I, the soul, will continue a bigger story. The story of this life is just one chapter of a book. When I use this perspective, I can start to use my untapped potential to make changes in the course of this life.
Using these three powerful forms of consciousness, I can really change the way I interact in this world, through the coordinates of the limited ego - body, roles and story. In this way, I do not need to kill the ego (which would in fact mean killing those three things). I have to learn to operate better through them without denying their importance.