The work we have to do in this lifetime is the greatest challenge we have ever faced. Each of us in our own specifically designed mind-made world can hold on to only so many things, and these things are constantly competing for our attention. Each thought is saying, “I matter the most.” The question becomes: Which objects and thoughts do I need the most at this moment, what do I need to focus on next, what problem am I going to give my attention to? The demands that are placed upon us by our family, work, our own internal desires and fears, and the flood of things that our attention is being drawn to by advertising, friends, books, the Internet and movies, all cause our mind to become scattered, and we move through life in a state of emotional turmoil because so much seems to matter to us.
If I am sick and in pain, it matters. If I fall in or out of love, it matters. If I lose my job, it matters. If someone attacks my thoughts or feelings, it matters. If I do not get what I want, it matters. Giving our attention to all these things that matter causes stress, diminishes our health and often makes us feel miserable. These things all matter to us and become a priority because we have expectations and are attached to an outcome. These attachments and expectations come from the aspect of our mind most commonly called ego.
Dr. Julian Johnson writes in The Path of the Masters:
The normal ego is all right, but when it begins to swell up out of all proportion, then it takes on the nature of a disease. So vanity is an overgrown ego…. That faculty, which is quite necessary for the preservation of the individual in this life and for the proper placement of that person in relation to all others, becomes so overgrown that the normal self becomes for him the centre of the universe.
Our egos are dysfunctional and our true self, our soul, has identified with this dysfunctional ego to the extent that we have become egomaniacs. From a spiritual perspective, it is a sickness or certainly and impediment to spiritual progress.
Our dysfunctional egos are vulnerable and insecure, but powerful, and they are constantly forcing us to pay attention to what they want. To make things worse, what matters to us at every moment constantly keeps changing. Karmas from past lives, which the ego labels as good or bad, are constantly arising. If we find out that we have a life-threatening illness, that becomes a priority and becomes what matters to us in our mind. And the ego reacts. The ego puts great value on this new challenge. This is easy to comprehend, but what is insane is that this dysfunctional ego will also automatically overreact in the same way to even the most mundane things that flow into its domain throughout the day.
This dysfunctional ego is only a small illusory spot in relation to our entire spiritual being.
In an evening meeting at Dera, a brother told Baba Ji: “I have such a big ego. Everything is me, me, me. I have little compassion and think I am so important. How can I ever make progress on this path with such a big ego?”
Baba Ji started to laugh. He looked directly at this man and told him that he was wrong, that his ego was actually very, very small; it was nothing.
The reason the Master can say that the ego is miniscule is because he is looking at who we really are, the soul. He is not looking at our ego, he is not judging our ego. To him it is a nothing, a tiny illusory spot. He is looking at what we cannot see, and that is our soul. And that is what he loves. Master often says that he wouldn’t have initiated us if we couldn’t do the work in one lifetime. So our lives can be transformed if only we prioritize and let go of all these things that we think matter so much and concentrate on the big thing, the thing that the Master tells us matters the most: meditation.
The first essential thing, therefore, is to enter this laboratory within ourselves, by bringing our scattered attention inside of the eye focus. This is a slow process. But we are not justified in saying that we cannot do it, or that it is impossible, or that it is useless.… It is our job and we must do it; and we must do it now, in this very lifetime.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Spiritual Gems