by Jerry Dorsman (adapted from How to Achieve Peace of Mind)
By letting go it all gets done
The world is won by those who let it go
But when you try and try
The world is then beyond the swimming.
Each of us encounters one major block on the road to inner peace: ego. The ego won’t let go. It clings to things. It identifies with objects, possessions, expectations, hopes, dreams, and other tangible and intangible things. In addition, the ego always wants. It wants something more than what it has.
Where do we find ego? It’s in our heads. The ego is what we “think” we are. Upon careful inspection, we can see that the ego is a mental construct, a set of preconceived notions we have about ourselves. Yet this construct acts in a powerful manner. The ego may even compel us to fight—not to save our lives but to save our notions, as if attempting to prove, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
Known also as our “self,” ego represents our entire identity. How important! Without an identity, we would have no reason to fight. Without a self, why bother? Of course, you would fight if someone attacked you with a knife. But then you would be fighting to save your life, not to prove that your religion is the correct one and therefore entitles you to the holy land, not to prove that you’re more worthy or more honorable than your foe, not to prove that your sports team is the best team.
Ego wants and ego strives. Ego is achievement oriented. Ego boasts. It brags. Selfishness comes from ego. And unhappiness comes too, because the ego can never be satisfied. There’s always something more to want, to gain, or to do.
But look again. In one sense, ego doesn’t exist. Since it is fabricated in the mind and since you can change it by changing your mind, it is really an illusion. Yet this illusion affects most of our activity, takes up much of our brain’s memory, and blocks us from experiencing reality directly
Before turning to the methods, here’s one final thought from the philosopher Wei Wu Wei, “Why are you unhappy? It’s because 99% of everything you think, and everything you do, is for yourself—and there isn’t one.”
1) Drop goal-seeking. Detach yourself from results. Become thoroughly involved in what you do but remember your activity is not you. It’s on the periphery. Pay attention to your activity but forget about its goal. When you do this, each activity can be playful and fun
Detach yourself even from the results of these exercises. The goal is inner peace, but if you cling to this goal, you will not achieve it. Inner peace will come only when you drop it as a goal. One day you’ll be doing something and you’ll suddenly realize that you’re at peace with yourself.
2) Let go of personal identities. Detach from self. Don’t identify with anything. Don’t call yourself an alcoholic; don’t call yourself a Christian. Why? You can never be utterly one thing. You are always something different, something more.
3) Not this, not that. Notice that whenever a thought comes into your head, you tend to identify with it. You can use a powerful meditation to change this process. When a thought arrives, say, “Not this,” or “I am not this.” For your next thought, say, “Not that,” or “I am not that.” For your next thought, say, “Not this,” and so on. Rather than identifying with your thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this method, you can free yourself of mental pressure.
All three methods of detachment will help you to feel free. By detaching yourself, you release the world. And, in turn, the world releases you.
Detachment is a state of mind. Instead of, “I have this” and “I have that,” it’s “I have nothing.” This state of mind is what the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca was recommending when he said, “We never reflect how pleasant it is to ask for nothing.
# # #
Jerry Dorsman is the coauthor of How to Achieve Peace of Mind. He also is the author of two books on breaking addictions: How to Quit Drinking Without AA and How to Quit Drugs for Good.
For information on the book How to Achieve Peace of Mind, click here:
Or see the book at this site: