I get caught up with the idea of fairness/unfairness and the idea that the ego causes suffering. Since I had two experiences of ego-transcendence, I suspect that most people have never and will never experience this. This feel monumentally unfair, since living with ego is a life sentence of subtle and gross suffering. If you’ve never had the experience of ego transcendence, you may believe this to be an exaggeration. But if you have ever had the experience of freedom from ego, you will recognize right away how profound your suffering throughout life has been through contrast with that experience.
So, I’m very attached to getting back to that state of liberation from ego, because it was just superior and richer in every way to living the experience of identification with ego. So, it feels unfair to me that so few people have or will experience this. And it also feels unfair to me that I am not currently free from ego but that, in my past experience of this state, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m missing out in some way on something amazing that’s constantly at my fingertips but that escapes my grasp. This is a very unhelpful mindset that only puts me in a bad mood. It compounds my struggling with life.
For my job, I sometimes assist in self-contained classrooms with children/teens who have special needs. Self-contained means that these children spend most to all of their school day in an ESE (special education) classroom due to having needs that regular education classes can’t provide (bathroom assistance, one on one time, and other accommodations). So, the other day, I was in a self-contained class with students who were diagnosed on the more severe end of the Autism spectrum, and I found myself caught up in this unhelpful mindset. And I started thinking about the varieties of experience that are objectively more difficult than my own, including the experience of living with severe autism and other such disabilities.
I thought of the futility and selfishness of my desire to be free from ego. Objectively, my experience of the world is quite good compared to most. I live in a first-world country, I’m well-fed, I have no physical or intellectual disabilities, I have a family and a home, and the list goes one. And despite having some relative financial difficulties here and there, there are still luxuries that I get to partake in. Despite all this, I’m incredibly discontent. Nothing ever satisfies, even in the face of seeing or thinking about others with objectively more difficult experiences. And I just get to live in my little bubble and sulk about this or that.
Then I get to the point of thinking about the fact that all is one. Then, I consider that, at some point, I will be experiencing all experiences and how unequipped I feel (at present) to get anywhere near those experiences. So, I will experience a life as an autistic person. I will experience the life of a person who suffers under the weight of a physical or mental illness. I will experience the life of someone who is tortured to death. I will experience the life of an animal that is slaughtered. I will experience the life of an animal in the wild who is hunted as prey. And the list goes on and on. Then, I get mad at myself for being so discontent with my life that is objectively quite evenly keeled.
Now, I want to specify, that the students in this particular Autistic class all had different temperaments, and many seemed quite happy. It’s just my idea that, without transcendence of ego life equals suffering, that makes me project unhappiness onto most people’s experiences. But, as it stands, I would be absolutely terrified to live the Autistic perspective for even a few days. I have so many standards for how I want to be and be seen, and this would go in complete opposition to those standards for myself. So, I can’t imagine a life without normalcy or intelligence that could be a happy experience. Also, what if ego-transcendence is simply not possible for certain people. That seems totally unfair too. But all this is my own short-sightedness.
But I get into these mindsets from time to time, trying to reconcile all these ideas, only to come up empty-handed. I have a naïve desire that everyone could live free from ego and be happy and drive progress forward toward a happy and unconditionally loving society free of suffering. This is my agenda that I catch myself in, only to realize this is no acceptance of reality that is just as chaotic and dark as it is light and compassionate. Then, I think ‘Why should I be able to transcend the ego and be liberated when my experience is so much freer and less tumultuous and pain-filled than so many others.’ ‘Why should I be experiencing a reality where my only real pain is the suffering from identification with my self-concept?’
But these are all mindsets to drop as they are not reconcilable. They are just unhelpful mindsets.