Dedicated to Gene Hicks, my hip hop guru
So much has happened and jet lag has impaired my sensibilities, so I’ll backtrack a couple days. On the first night at yoga school, we participated a ceremony in which the ego was symbolically destroyed. The priest put a small amount of refuse in our hands and each one of the 24 students threw it into a fire pit.
I should have told him I needed a bigger fire than that to destroy my ego, which must have been doused with fire retardant along the way. That self-serving monster probably would needed temperature exceeding one million degrees to be totally burned.
I have real reservations that the ego can be transcended. Even if David Hume is correct and the mind is merely a bundle of ceaselessly changing perceptions and there is no stable point called “self,” nonetheless this bundle definitely has its own agenda. There is real danger when it is assumed that some people are egoless individuals. It’s better to admit an ego rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. People often feign acting in the best interests for other person, but are driven by darker motives or at least their own self-interest. We set ourselves up for a rude awakening if we assume anyone is doing it entirely for us. Loss of credit cards, wallets or keys is much more likely than loss of ego.
I recognize my bloated ego all the time. It interferes with my job and my personal relationships. But I guess I will have to accept it if not as a spiritual defect or liability then as an enduring encumbrance. No amount chanting, meditation, or yoga is going to take that sucker down.
However, you can at least keep the sucker tied down. In Meditation tonight, we formed a circle and were encouraged to dance in the middle while singing “Hare Krishna.” Even after a long day of yoga, jet lag, and not feeling well and losing my voice, I decided for the benefit of the group to dance around a la Gene Hicks and even did some break-dancing. I got the party started and then stepped back to let the young people do their best impressions of being young. Yeah, I did it for myself because I didn’t waste my evening standing around, but I also wanted these mostly young people to have a chance to be young: they just needed an older example.