A couple of disorienting things happened this weekend. Friday, I failed a quiz. Saturday, I missed a day of meditation. This could be it for me, folks!
I lied. At the end of my last post, after writing about my problems with the word ego, I promised to steer clear of any more wonky language rants and post my next update instead about the concept of separateness. But as I started researching that topic, I ran into a snag. I came across another word I realized causes just as much confusion and raises even more questions than the word ego, and I decided the meaning of this troublesome word ought to be clarified before I move on to other subjects, because it’s so central to what this whole blog is about.
The word I’m talking about is “spirituality.”
OOOOH!!! LOOK AT ME! I did 165 hours of silent meditation last year! Aren’t I spiritual?
And this is the first time I’ve shown this to anyone. Isn’t that humble? And this screenshot was from over a month ago, when I had many fewer hours logged. Isn’t that modest? And I’m clearly making fun of myself now. Isn’t that self-effacing?
I don’t tell you about all the hours I volunteer and all the money I donate not because I’m such a spiritual person, but because I’m not – because I think that withholding that information makes me a better person. Have you ever read The Fall by Camus? The opening monologue yanked out my precious soul and ground it into the cheap meat I always knew it was.
Am I being too hard on myself? Probably. Am I utterly devoid of pure, loving motivation? No, not utterly. But my cup runneth over with spiritual materialism. This isn’t novice meditator stuff & I promise I’ll explain more later, but I’m behind on work and living out of a bag this weekend and I just wanted to say hi and lay this on you. Dig it, man.
Ego is the archenemy of an enlightened life. At least, that’s the impression I get when I study modern Tao and Buddhist teachings. But when I talk with people about ego, including fellow Zen students, I get the sense that we never quite agree on what the word actually means. If ego really is the archenemy of the enlightened life, shouldn’t its meaning be universally understood?