The work we have to do in this lifetime to focus our attention on returning home to the Lord is the greatest challenge we have ever faced in all our incarnations. Each of us holds on to so many things that are persistently struggling for our attention. Each thought is saying, “I matter the most.” Which comes first? Which objects and thoughts do I need the most at this moment? What do I focus on next? What problem am I going to give my attention to? Will it be the demands that are placed upon us by our family, our work, our own internal desires and fears? Or the myriad of things bombarding us through advertising, books, the internet and movies? These numerous competing demands easily scatter the mind, moving us through life in a state of emotional strain because so much matters to us in our life.
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 cause stress diminishes our health and often makes us miserable. They all derive from that aspect of our mind that in Sant Mat we call 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. Ahankar is a malignant enlargement of the ‘I’. 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 dysfunctional egos are motivated by the senses and the desires of our mind, overtaking the interests of our soul while pushing us to pay attention to these desires. To make things worse, what matters to us at any moment constantly keeps changing. Karmas from past lives, which the ego labels as good or bad, are continually arising. The ego goes into action to mobilize thoughts, words, money, or actions to protect what matters to it and keeps us distracted. This life-dominating ego, which wants to control things, thinks it can bring about what really matters to it, and at the same time it resists so many things that the Master sends that would benefit us. What is the solution? To learn to see the ego the way the Master does: as a veil of illusion covering the vastness of our souls.
How do we get beyond the influence of having such a big ego that emphasizes me, me, me, me and tricks us into thinking we are so important? How can we ever make progress on this path with such big egos? Saints tell us that they see us for who we really are, the soul. The Lord does not judge our egos because to him, the ego is just an illusion. He is looking at what we cannot see – our soul. The Master helps us understand this when he tells us we would not have been initiated if he thought we could not do this work. He shows us how to transform our lives by letting go of all these things that we think matter so much and concentrating on the one big thing. The one big thing that the Master tells us matters the most is meditation. This alone will release the soul from the mind and ego that bind us to the creation.