“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
Moment to moment, we’re confronted with infinite decisions and conflict. We make a million decisions a day. Once we make them, we find ourselves justifying those decisions, even defending them, because ultimately each of us operates in a different way. It’s constant and exhausting.
Physical exhaustion is hard; emotional exhaustion is brutal. We create most of the emotional exhaustion. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he says, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Four hundred years later, Eckhart Tolle writes, “Your unhappiness ultimately arises not from the circumstances of your life but from the conditioning of your mind.” And in Stillness Speaks, he writes,
“Built into the very structure of the egoic self is a need to oppose, resist, and exclude to maintain the sense of separateness on which its continued survival depends. So there is ‘me’ against the ‘other,’ ‘us’ against ‘them.’ The ego needs to be in conflict with something or someone.”
This is why all the great sages and spiritual teachers encourage us to let go of our ego-centered thoughts, moving out of our heads (where ego and fear reside) and into our hearts. Here, we can connect to something greater than ourselves. In yogic tradition we greet one another with namaste, holding hands in prayer, pressed to the heart. The Sanskrit translation is “The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you.”
Yoga means “yoke,” or union, and this greeting reminds us to see and appreciate the light that dwells in each of us.
This is hard. We are humans, rigged for survival, living in an extremely competitive 21st century. It’s why we so often hear about practicing return: we overthink, then return to trusting and knowing in our hearts, and then overthink, and then return. Again and again and again. All day long.
I love the below story: a lot of ego, not a lot of understanding of “the light.” True incident or not, it’s a great example of where our ego goes when we feel threatened.
“The Lighthouse and US Naval Ship”
This is the transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations 10-10-95.
Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that’s one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
Today enjoy a guided meditation by my own favorite, Sarah Blondin. I still say scare up some headphones. Lie down, close your eyes, let go. Something about her voice immediately gets me out of my head.