Monday, March 14, 2011

What Is Required to Become a True Human 'Being'?

"Relieve me of the bondage of self . . ."
What is required of us to 'slip the bondage, of our narrow, egoic self-consciousness, to be come true human 'beings' rather than human 'thinkings'? For most of us, the problem is the continual 'inner dialogue' of our rudimentary "self" consciousness, what the pioneering psychologist, William James, dubbed the "stream of consiousness."

We miss the wonders of life - indeed, the wonder of "life" itself - through our continuous identification with, attachment to, and fixation upon this narrow, self-centered identity and attachment. As Einstein noted:
"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
While Einstein believed that no one may break out of this "prison" completely and permanently, he observed that, "the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security." Many others - from all traditions, places and times - do believe that a complete liberation (in the form of enlightenment, mystic union, moksha, nirvana, or whatever you may call it) is possible, but that it takes great effort. 

"Remember that the most difficult tasks are consummated not by a single explosive burst of energy or effort, but by consistent daily application of the the best you have within you. To change one's life for the better, to resurrect one's body and mind from living death requires many positive steps, one in front of the other, with your sights always on your goal. . . . The means of transportation, and the power to break your intertia must be generated by forces long dormant but still alive within you."
                               (Og Mandino, "The Greatest Miracle in the World")
One of the most renowned spiritual teachers ever put it this way: "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few". (Matt. 9:37) Or, as Don Juan, the Native American nagual who was Carlos Castenada's teacher, observed: "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."

And there is the consensus of the many different paths to spiritual enlightenment and liberation from Einstein's "optical delusion." One must work on one's spiritual condition and the level of one's consciousness continuously, unrelentingly, and with great effort in order to attain liberation from the ego.

For as Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita: "(O)ut of thousands of people only one will seek Me, and out of thousands who seek Me only one will perceive Me as I Am."

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