This week I was teaching a class, and it seems like the concept of “Hold Ego” wasn’t clear to the students, so, I’ll just try to clarify it here.
“Hold Ego” is the first thing taught to students who came to study and practice at Tao Sangha, and all practice starts from and is based on this.
You can easily imagine that someone who is not holding their ego won’t be able to study or practice. So, what is Ego, and what does it mean to “hold the ego”?
Ego: you can define this word in so many ways, but some people easily fall into the mistake of thinking, “This is my identity.” They think, “What I want, how I think, what I choose, what actions I take, these are my identity, these are the things that make me who I am.”
In Mahayana Buddhism, especially in the Yogacara (Consciousness Only) school, there is the teaching that we live in the illusion of reactions from the past, which is a survival strategy to serve us and help us to grow. A lot of people think this strategy is their identity, but it is not. This is a strategy to protect yourself while you are growing, but it is not a true self — it is created by your history of relationships and past events, and is just a character role. True self is hidden beneath this.
It’s OK to live with the habit of reacting to the past, if you want to. But if you are looking to free your mind and become your true self, then you must start to realize your reactions and habits, and the tendencies of your actions and thoughts. If those reactions are repetitive, that is Karma. We have a lot of karma (repetition); sometimes we call it our habits or tendencies, and sometimes we call it our identity or character.
But as you can see, those things are not your true self nor your identity. They are Ego and they put a cover over your true self. If you’d like to be engaged in spiritual practice, you have to be aware of the tendencies of your actions, words, and thoughts; it’s from here that practice begins.
What does it mean to “hold” ego? Another way to think of ego is to call it your baby or “mini me.” Baby mini me wants a lot: a lot of attention, has a lot of needs, requires a lot of self-satisfaction, for a short moment, temporary pleasures, just for now, and so on. Like a baby. And to “hold” that baby is to imagine holding it in your arms, like you hold a baby. Be a cradle, gently holding and swaying your ego, calm it down and let it sleep comfortably. Keep your mini me below your chest, not letting it rise above it. And be aware when your ego starts to cry out or express its needs; actually, try to feel or detect the signs before that happens.
When you hold your ego, people around you will feel so comfortable. If you come to Tao Sangha Centre and try “Ki Practice,” then you’ll feel this body sensation so clearly. You’ll feel other classmates’ energy as it changes, and classmates will give you comments about what they felt when you were doing it — this is the way to cultivate sensitivity to Ki.
But there is a caution to be heeded. This universal law of energy also works in the opposite way; when you hold your ego, then you are clearing the energy around you, but when you are not holding your ego, what will happen around you? Yes: you will be polluting the energy around you.
Sorry to say this, but it is a fact. When you hold your ego, you are clearing the energy around you, and if you are not holding your ego, you are polluting the energy around you. It happens whether you notice it or not.
If you learn to practice with Ki and cultivate sensitivity to Ki, you’ll feel clearly that this is a fact.
And yes, there are many people who do not hold their ego, but it is your choice: which way would you like to live? Don’t follow others (actually, this is another topic for a future blog).
You might think that it is not fair that you are holding ego and feeling the Jaki (negative energy) from others who are not holding ego. Maybe at the beginning you might feel it is difficult to hold ego, but then when you feel your classmate’s clear comfortable energy, you naturally want to share that.
And each time you overcome your karma, you become so much freer than before; it’s not only your joy, but your ancestors’ joy, too. You were born into the family that you chose in order to fulfill the wish of clearing your family’s karma.
After that, all your family ancestors will become your guardians and will support you and help you to complete the mission of your life.
By holding your ego, your true self will appear from under the cover of your ego, karma, and reactions. Overcoming these obstacles enables you to live out your life’s mission. This can’t happen when there are obstacles in your life — you’ll be stuck and not free; you have to be free from ego, karma, and reactions to live out the mission of your life.
And, if you don’t hold your ego, then it will seem as though nothing in your life is changing. You’ll be living in the illusion that “tomorrow is the same as yesterday,” and you’ll age and die, and might think, just before you die, “What was my life all about?”