The next overriding principles determining our karma and which challenge our free will are:
Subordinate Ego to the Higher Self.
Be in Joy and savor the opportunity of being in a sentient body and of fulfilling one’s task or mission.
SUBORDINATE EGO TO THE HIGHER SELF
(Ego’s Triad on the Tree of Life)
All must be done for its own sake, not for reason of an outcome.
All is a journey not a destination and it is a continual arriving.
We need to do things for their own sake and not because of any ego driven agenda – hidden or otherwise. If rewards were always immediate there would be a huge incentive to always perform correctly because of the gratification we would expect from our actions. We would be no better than a well trained animal driven with a Pavlovian response.
Karma depends not only on what we do but how we do it, why we do it and how we feel about it. If the last is grudgingly or because it benefits us only materially there will be a karmic consequence or it will be karmically neutral.
Although all three below are derived from ego and overlap, it is helpful to distinguish between them.
1. Ego or self-Cherishing
2. Desirous Attachment
Ego – self Cherishing the Persona
“God cannot be realized if there is the slightest trace of pride.”
The search for the Real, True or Higher Self or soul is at the core of all spiritual motivation whether we know about it or not or do anything about it or not. We are made in the image of the Divine. The Higher Self or Soul cannot be realized in the presence of a dominant ego.
“To know the real Self to be one’s own is the greatest attainment… To know wrongly the non-self, such as the ego, to be the Self is no attainment at all. One therefore should denounce this perception of taking the non-self for the Self.”
Ego (together with Monkey Mind and the Shadow) get in the way of our connection with the Higher Self.
Do you listen with your heart or are you hearing with your ego. The possible peril is not a punishment, it is a consequence. Choice is not enough, action must follow.
Intent, willingness, openness and trust – if you want it all you must offer all.
Although Ego is necessary for self-mastery there comes a time when it gets in the way of spiritual growth. Non-Attachment to the ego is commendable - attachment to the search for the Self or one’s soul is essential. Attachments to Ego, Desirous Attachment or Judgment will become the conditions for tying us more adherently to the "yolk of ego" and inheriting more lifetimes.
The challenge is relief from ego, how to be free from its tyranny.
The way is relief from ego, surrendering and releasing one’s instinct for protection and cultural conditioning; subduing its tyranny but with respectful and grateful acknowledgement for its appropriate worth. The “prize” – the place of arrival – is relief from ego and a true sense of the pleasure of its place.
Jung doubted that the Western Mind could ever truly get rid of Ego. It seems only possible fleetingly in the Oneness Experience or Unity Consciousness when the Knower, the Known and the process of Knowing fuse into one thing. Maslow called this a Peak Experience which occurred among other things during childbirth, orgasm, unravelling a scientific mystery, extreme sporting escapades, partaking in drugs or entheogens, while dancing (when one becomes the dance,) in nature and other circumstances. It cannot be anticipated and usually comes for most of us through grace.
“In the samadhi that comes at the end of reasoning and discrimination no such thing as “I” exists but it is extremely difficult to attain as “I” consciousness lingers so persistently. This is why humans are born again and again.” Sri Rama Krishna
Whatever the stimulus, this ecstasy or rapture is temporary and we soon return back into a sense of duality. The challenge is to be aware of this duality and still see the divinity and our oneness with others.
God does not measure results, only the trueness of intent and the fervor of effort. This is why there is such joy in daring one’s best.
If God were after numbers he would have made the way to him abundantly apparent and attractive – enticingly so, ego free and forever lasting. And of course, S/He has also granted us our own lens for seeing and our own will for choosing what we see.
“The Light of lights looks always on the motive, not the deed… the shadow of shadows, on the deed alone.” W.B. Yeats
Doing things for their own sake and without any personal agenda is the crux of ego subordination. Our deeds must be done for the greater good without consideration of any reward or pay back.
“More possessions – more worry.
More generosity – more peace.
There is nothing wrong with possessions, only to being possessed by them.” Hillel
There are many guises of ego's self-cherishing, desirous attachments which are often driven by greed:
These include; Pride, Prestige, Possessions, Fame and Power. There is nothing wrong with desire but being attached to the object of our desire is a negative attribute that fulfills only temporary satisfaction or entertainment. Concerning power we see this more and more with the rise of autocratic power in the world today and yesterday.
“There is no room for God in him who is full of himself. The sages tell us concerning the proud man; God says; “I and s/he cannot dwell together in the world.” Talmud
Until you empty yourselves of pride God cannot be realized.
As fame can enslave, so can the costs of money impoverish. Make sure the need is worth the price. To overpay can rob the Self.
“By attributing worth to tangible objects humans becomes attracted to them; attraction brings desire for them; desire leads to competition and dispute. These create anger and the result is delusion. Delusion completely overcomes man’s sense of right and wrong.” Srimad Bhagavata
"Power corrupts and complete power corrupt completely." Lord Acton
Given full power, greed becomes an enslaver of the greedy – fear becomes first a bully, then a torturer and then a killer.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character give him power.” A. Lincoln
The ego is never satisfied, the more it gets the more it wants.
“Greed is not stilled with money any more than thirst with salt water.” Ksemendra
Karmic merit arises out of spiritual transformation. Attachment to the latter is much harder than attachment to "stuff." We are given the challenge of being in a sentient body and more than ever, the boundless temptations of technology and the hypnosis of ubiquitous materialism. Steve Jobs once instructed his employees that their task at Apple was not to give people what they needed but to tell them what they wanted. Many entrepreneurs follow this mantra.
Non-Attachment is not the same as detachment which implies denial, resignation, desperation, a giving up, rather than a giving in to a higher vibration and something much bigger than oneself.
Concerning detachment, one of its paths leads to a lifeless world without enthusiasm or hope, a place of indifference where one could become ensnared in hidden traps of dejection and despair, where one no longer cares to love nor dares to trust.
The Ancestors teach that ulterior motives are greatly under-rated. It is good to donate money in order to build a hospital or anything else that can help humanity but if it is attached to an agenda it may be karmically neutral. It is better to give charity – even if it is to get our face in the media or for a tax deduction - than not to give it, but the act may not have spiritual merit depending on our intent.
Emperor Wu asked, “I’ve built temples and ordained monastics; what merit is there in this?”
Bodhidharma replied, “No merit.”
“Give up owning things and being somebody. Quit existing.” Rumi
Rumi is telling us to attend to our needs and not our wants, to keep it simple. It is the want that is our enemy and not the need. Desire is normal but attachment to it is not transformative unless it's about the desire for “Becoming” more spiritually of who we truly are. “Being somebody” speaks to attachment to one's persona.
“Behind my work was ambition, behind my love was personality, behind my purity was fear, behind my guidance the thirst for power. Now they are vanishing and I drift. I come Mother, I come, in your warm bosom – floating where-ever you take me – in the voiceless, in the strange, in the wonderland. I come a spectator, No more an actor.” Swami Vivekananda
Having to maintain stuff gets in the way of our spiritual work. Simplifying our lives and getting rid of attachments leaves more time and energy for inner rather than outer work.
There is always enough as long as one is free from the compulsion for more. Narrow mind is about having – Spacious mind is about being.
“ … Abundance is not an achievement of the acquisitive but rather a legacy of the perceptive – a realization of plenty – not an acquiring of more – a delight not a desire.” Hillel
Of all the teachings of the sages some most agreed upon as being both fundamental and elemental were those about abundance and delight.
Desirous Attachment is antithetical to the principle of impermanence. We cannot take “it” with us. At the end of the day the only thing we can take is our karma and how we dealt with our experiences.
Moreover, material attachments can hamper the soul’s journey during transition after death causing the spirit to either become earth bound (lost between the worlds) or to inherit a lower vibration in the Astral.
The only things that live on are love, truth and the soul.