The Past and the Finite Ego
Loneliness and hanging on to the past is a mental disease. In modern times, especially in urban areas around the world, the philosophy “each to his own” is being followed. Each is concerned with only his or her fleeting or momentary happiness (?). This has resulted in loneliness becoming a rampant problem everywhere.
Both loneliness and hanging on to the past has its origins in the fictitious ego.
The historical idea of finite or the limited self, the ego, requires a constant re-living of memories in order to sustain a continuity of its own. It is only aware of itself as a repeatedly up-dated autobiography. The ego does not actually exist — it is an illusion of continuity.
We cannot smell, see, taste, hear or touch either the past or the future. In order to create a sense that it does exist, however, it is first necessary to forget the here and now.
So the conventional ego, the false passport, is built up from the edited picture album of our past. That version often seems far more real than we are in the present moment. That is because here and now we are in a constant flux and flow, but what we have been is nicely and securely fixed. The false identity is frozen throughout time, a final static noun — and just because it is unchanging we become more clearly identified with that identity card than we do with the real living, moment-to-moment entity.
In order to support the new false self we have to become more and more identified with our past, with old knowledge and fixed belief systems which continue to bolster up our historical selves — and we forget there was ever anything else!!
The mind has a tendency to dwell in the past or wander into the future. The mind forges a chain to bind itself to the dead past or to an uncertain future, constantly avoiding the present.
Life is neither lived in the tomb of the dead moments of the past nor in the womb of the unborn moments of the future. Life is not a continuous procession of past regrets and future anxieties. Never ever live with regret. Whatever happened was destined to happen only that way. Why cry over spilled milk? Learn from the past and move on. We cannot change a single moment of our past, but we can ruin the present by nurturing grievances and worrying about the future. We should never brood over the past. Life is lived dynamically in the present. The present moment is all that we have at our disposal.
Our relationship with past should be limited to only the lessons learnt through various events and experiences of our lives, so that we don’t commit the same errors again. Thereafter we have to move on and not hang on to the past. Our relationship with the future should be limited to the plans we make for the future, but we have to work on the plan in the present to get the desired result in the future.
Live in the now and enjoy the present moment; make peace with your past so that it won’t mess-up your present. Living in the present means conscious action not mechanical movement.
The mind should be freed from the past, which exists but as memory, and the future, which exists but as worry — a mixture of fear and hope. Only the present is. It is a ‘present’ from God. Reality is to love and respect our ‘present’. ‘Present’ we cannot be without.
It is easy to get rid of something that actually exists, but how to get rid of something which actually doesn’t exist, but merely appears to be so, like the mirage water or the illusory snake on the rope or the illusion of the ghost on the post? It is easier to dig out the heart out of a mountain with the sharp end of a needle than to get rid of ego. It is easier to detect and remove a tiny black ant moving on a black stone on a moonless night than to get rid of ego!
Now, how to destroy this ego? There are two major techniques to weaken and get rid of the ego. One is through the inquiry of our true Self, which is called jnaana yoga or the path of knowledge or inquiry of our Real Self, which is the substratum on which the ego seems to appear. The second technique is through total surrender at our Lord’s feet, which is bhakti yoga or path of devotion.
Another technique is to exclusively live in the present moment – neither in the past or in the future.
Either we constantly fluctuate between the unchangeable past with its regrets and an unknown future with its anxieties, strengthening the ego and be miserable or live in the here and now, constantly weakening and dissolving the ego and be happy.
The choice is ours!!