5.1

Stop Being a Slave to Your Ego.

(00608_ud-2.psd) Portrait of Lama Yeshe on the roof at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974.

Portrait of Lama Yeshe on the roof at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974.

You probably think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Remember, ego and attachment don’t work at the intellectual level. If you ask a chicken on its roost if it’s happy, it’s not going to reply, but intuitively, a chicken feels happy in familiar surroundings. If something intrudes, it gets angry and tries to drive the trespasser away. If we behave in the same way we’re no better than chickens; nevertheless, if somebody invades our space we get just as upset as they do. What’s the difference?

Also, under the power of its ego, a chicken eats hundreds of insects every day. We, too, use the power of our ego to try to control or take advantage of others. All this comes from attachment, not from our basic human nature, which is pure and can be developed infinitely.

Remember this when you meditate. Concentrate on the feelings in your body and mind and when you get distracted, observe the role attachment plays. This method will show you the true nature of your own mind. Because of the way in which your attachment reacts to how your ego interprets things, you’re not happy when trying to attain perfect concentration and get agitated and distracted when you meditate.

You think rich people are very lucky and wish you had their wealth, but if you understood human psychology, the nature of the mind and how attachment works, you wouldn’t care. Who cares about external wealth? In my opinion, the truly rich person is the one who has a satisfied mind. Satisfaction is real wealth and you can keep it forever. The affluence of satisfaction comes from understanding knowledge-wisdom, not from external things.

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Lama Yeshe after the Sixth Meditation Course, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974. Photo by Ursula Bernis.

For example, we can eat and drink the most expensive things but still feel dissatisfied while a chicken can eat the most terrible garbage and go to sleep content. Satisfaction comes from the mind. We can’t believe how a chicken could possibly sleep after eating dirt so horrible that it would make us sick, but the chicken fills its stomach and goes to sleep satisfied. Satisfaction comes from the mind, not from food or any other material object.

Otherwise, where does super-satisfaction come from? Where on Earth can you find super-satisfactory beauty or pleasure? Sydney? New York? Paris? Where? It’s nowhere, non-existent. There is no external shape, color or form on Earth that itself can produce super-satisfaction. Just because there are supermarkets doesn’t mean you can find super-satisfaction in them. Sometimes all you’ll find there is more dissatisfaction.

Therefore, when you meditate, take a serious look at what causes satisfaction. Check deeply and come to a firm conclusion. Don’t be wishy-washy, “Maybe, maybe, maybe….” Check thoroughly, again and again; analyze, investigate and bring every thought to a logical conclusion.

Finally, make a determination, integrating all your trains of thought into one definite conclusion. That’s the way to do analytical meditation. The vacillating mind is split. You need to integrate your mind by coming to a definite conclusion.

What you need to decide once and for all is: “I’m tired of being a servant to my ego. My ego rules my mind and even though it continuously gives me nothing but trouble and no time for rest, I still spend my entire life as its servant. My mind is constantly in turmoil only because of my ego. I’m not going to be a slave to my ego any longer!”

All the worry we experience comes from the two departments of ego and attachment. For example, we all want a beautiful body but at the same time our sneaky, grasping attachment makes us eat more than our body requires and we get fat. This is just a simple example but it’s one to which most of us can relate.

Check it out for yourself. You need little food but your attachment to overeating makes you heavy and uncomfortable. At the same time, you want to be attractive. These two things are in conflict. Which do you choose—your ego’s wish for a beautiful body or your attachment to eating food? Look into your mind; find the one to which you cling the most. One mind is there, grasping at beauty; the other is there too, knowing that if you eat too much you’ll get fat and destroy whatever beauty you have. Still, you can’t stop eating. These two minds agitate you. Psychologically, they beat you up, but despite their constant mashing, you still keep saying “Yes, yes, yes….”

(00627_ud3.jpg) Lama Yeshe and Ani-la Ann at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974.

Lama Yeshe and Ani-la Ann at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1974.

It’s very funny. The human mind is so weird…and very silly, if you really check. The idea that thin is beautiful and fat is ugly comes from the mind. Of course, I agree that if you are too fat it can be unhealthy; that’s okay. But the idea, the picture, created by attachment and desire of what is beautiful and what is ugly is so silly, isn’t it? It’s not the reality of the fat that bothers you but the idea that it’s unattractive. Why? Because you cling to reputation; you’re worried what other people will think of you.

I tell you, mother sentient beings on this Earth are so silly. People in one country think something is pretty; people in another country think the same thing is ugly. Here, this is bad; there, it is good. To some, this is beautiful; to others something else is beautiful. It’s all made up; they’re just different ideas.

Read more from Lama Yeshe’s Ego, Attachment and Liberation. This book contains the teachings and meditations Lama  gave at a five-day retreat that he led near Melbourne, Australia, in March 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.

Freely available from Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

˜

Author: Lama Yeshe 

Images: Image1Image 2 Image3, Deviant Art

Editors: Travis May; Caitlin Oriel

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Lama Yeshe

Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935. At the age of six, he entered the great Sera Monastic University, Lhasa, where he studied until 1959, when the Chinese invasion of Tibet forced him into exile in India. Lama Yeshe continued to study and meditate in India until 1967, when, with his chief disciple, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, he went to Nepal. Two years later he established Kopan Monastery, near Kathmandu, in order to teach Buddhism to Westerners. In 1974, the Lamas began making annual teaching tours to the West, and as a result of these travels a worldwide network of Buddhist teaching and meditation centers—the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)—began to develop. In 1984, after an intense decade of imparting a wide variety of incredible teachings and establishing one FPMT activity after another, at the age of forty-nine, Lama Yeshe passed away. You can read more of Lama Yeshe’s teachings here and read excerpts from Adele Hulse’s forthcoming biography of Lama, Big Love.