Weapons of self-destruction
Ganesh Pai explains how the ego, anger, and fear can sabotage our life and the world at large and why we need to triumph over them
Gently walking past a few short trees with leaves touching my face, I sat on the steps overlooking a quiet pool. Setting aside dry leaves lying around those steps, I was beginning to immerse in tranquillity. It was post-lunch free time in my spiritual retreat, where we would stroll around the resort to explore the greenery in all its abundance. Sitting there, I was observing a thought parade in my mind. That is the beauty of free time post the sessions. My guru, Mahatria, calls it ‘seep-in time,’ and rightly so. When learning meets our prior experience, profound wisdom emerges from this confluence. It was as if I was mimicking a stone statue of a man deep in thought right in front of me near the pool. I was experiencing one realisation after another, till the most profound one surfaced: it is easy to change the world but difficult to change myself.
The paradox that is man
Man is a mystery unto himself. He knows smoking is dangerous but still indulges in it. He is aware of the benefits of healthy living but still cannot embrace them. He wants to experience silence but still cannot make time for meditation. The problem is not ‘out there.’ It is ‘right within.’ I started dwelling a bit more and pushed myself to think of those negative emotions severely shrinking our potential. Why is it so difficult to change ourselves? How can we conquer these one at a time? Let us make a start.
The ego makes us believe we are second to none, we are invincible, and we know it all. How many times does the ego raise its ugly head planning to script our downfall? The ego can blind us to the possibilities that exist in life. It can alienate us from the people around us. Some tend to justify their ego as ‘being confident.’ However, there is a difference between confidence and ego. Confidence is born out of competence, while the ego is born out of arrogance. It takes a reality check to understand we are not as good or as important as we think. We need to be humble while pursuing our aspirations. Learn from all and learn all the time. Success is fleeting and can sow the seeds of self-destruction. When we are at the top, we tend to act like we are invincible. We throw humility out of the window. Sadly, we fail to realise that we can ill afford to be egoistic as the stakes are much higher. Any error of judgment fuelled by the ego can make us bite the dust. Hence, it is important to be sober, open-minded, and have a noble purpose of making a difference when we succeed. Let us crush the ego before it crushes us
The Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burnt.” Anger not only leads to self-sabotage by adversely impacting our health but also destroys beautiful relationships that have taken ages to build. In a fit of mad rage, words tend to come out faster than rational thoughts. The extent of damage it inflicts in the process can be unimaginable. We all deserve peace in our lives.
How can we fight against anger? We will not talk about any advanced solution. A simple prescription would be inaction. Refrain yourself from taking any action or saying anything while you are angry. Let us give ourselves adequate time for the emotions to settle down. Once that happens, objectivity is back in the foreground; we can assess the situation and react with all the intellect and resources at our disposal. Anger conquered is a danger avoided.
If there is ever a self-limiting emotion, it must be fear. Well, fear has various variants. For some, it could be the fear of failure; for others, it could be being judged or the fear of death. If we pause and ponder for a while, we tend to paint most of our worries as fears. These are just nothing more than a mental projection of the worst possible outcome. So many opportunities are lost, decisions are not made, and life is not lived to the fullest potential because of fear. It is time we take comfort because most of our fear tends to border on speculation. Most of the things we fear rarely happen. In the worst case, if our fear comes true, it does not mean we cannot make the counter choice. We can always bounce back from any setback. The best way to deal with fear is to take it head-on. Address matters causing fear upfront, and then go on to live fearlessly. It is worth remembering Mahatria’s advice: Face the fear, it goes; avoid the fear, it grows.
Spreads like a cancer
Left uncontrolled, these weapons of self-destruction can turn into weapons of mass destruction. History is replete with instances where these negative emotions have caused havoc in the lives of people. We must reign over these and keep them in check. Anybody can demonstrate an occasional act of victory over these dreaded emotions. True glory lies in attaining mastery over them. We all are designed for greatness to make an impact in our lifetime. It has been my constant quest to drop the ego, overcome anger, and be fearless, thereby fully experiencing the life I truly deserve. It is time to surrender these weapons of self-destruction.
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