June 14, 2013

The Ego as Passenger Instead of Driver.

Photo: Patrick Dinkfeld

Week 9: Share My Path Series.

One of the interesting things about a path is where it can lead. You may know, or think you know at the beginning where you hope to travel, but unintended consequences are sure to pop-up. This is where we learn accepting the unplanned and simply rolling along down the path in equanimity.

So when this project brought me back into contact with a friend I’d not spoken too in almost 25 years, I kept rolling.

Patrick Dinkfeld is an artist, meditation instructor and old friend. In this week’s installment he elucidates in his own words the challenges an ego can provide to a practice.

When I found my first meditation teacher, it was by accident. I was living the life of a punk-rock, meat-eating atheist.

During my first experience she sat me down and took me into a state of greater consciousness. I barely flinched. And after, described it beautifully and spoke of it as though I had experienced it a million times before. I should have been freaking out over something so profound. But deep inside, the experience I had felt natural.

 It was the most natural state of being I had ever experienced… calm, peaceful, beautiful and familiar.

My teacher practiced an open-eye meditation. So, in practicing on my own, I used a mirror.

My entire first year of personal practice was simply making time in my “normal” life to sit down and meditate—prioritizing it high enough in my life to do it every day, and sitting still every day was a big deal for me, especially since I was barely capable of having any experience (like the ones my teacher was able to provide) on my own during that first year.

Like any consistent practice, I started to experience transformation. Over time I could sit in half-lotus for extended periods without my legs falling asleep. And, I could actually experience some states of greater consciousness on my own.

It was much easier for my ego to play along with some pleasurable intended experiences resulting from my practice.

My early practice was challenging because of the earthly habits I had to let go of. Particularly, accepting the shifts my ego had to make. I was fortunate to have a teacher that was very blunt, very direct, and very unsympathetic to my earthly ways, whining, and stubborn fragile ego. She was quick to point out the embarrassing reality in any situation. Time was of the utmost importance, and my ego was my responsibility.

In an infinite universe, we are always at the beginning. Rather than conceive of myself, and my worth, based on what I know or what I can do, I was required to postpone conceiving of myself and focus all of my efforts on just being.

In other words, rather than developing ideas about life, I was required to simply stay in the moment, and have the experience. The storage and calculation of data was no longer a measure of success or progress. Only my own experience and understanding in these moments were of value.

My ego wanted to learn things. It wanted to make progress. It wanted to move from A to B. It wanted to evolve and experience even more amazing states of consciousness. Want, want, want… goals, goals, goals! When my ego is put in its place—yes, it stings—I remain focused, even today.

I am interested in reality. I am interested in truth. I am interested in actual experience. My ego is still here, but it has been reduced to a passenger in the back seat that must remain quiet if it wishes to come along on the ride.

One final thought, a joke I use in my classes and with my teachers:

“Oh, now I get it.”
A year later: “Oh, Now I really get it!”
Another year later: “Oh no, wait… now I really get it!”
And so on, and so forth… forever.

There are many things in Patrick’s path common to practitioners and it is my sincerest hope that in reading about his path, along with all those participating in Share My Path, you find a nugget of knowledge that helps you on your own path.


Share My Path would love to feature your path! e-mail

Share My Path is an archival experiment seeking to build a repository of the paths taken by practitioners of meditation and is hosted here at elephant journal. If you’d like to have your path featured and made part of the archive please e-mail or find us here for more information. Your time will be rewarded in knowing you’ve shared with others and perhaps helped someone find their path.

Last weeks installment of Share My Path: Yogis do it. Buddhists do it. Christians too. How do you do it?

A list of all previous weeks: Share My Path


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Ed: B. Bemel

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