Sunday, November 2, 2008

Training Is As Well a Science as an Art

Another reading from the Gathas of Hazrat Inayat Khan:

"It is a science and an art to understand the nature of the human ego and to train it. Once can understand the nature of the human ego by a study of human nature; but one can learn the way of training it by training one's own ego. Man can train his ego by being patient with all around him that has a jarring effect upon him. For every jar upon the soul irritates the ego. When man expresses his irritation, he develops a disagreeable nature; when he controls it and does not express it, then he becomes crushed inwardly. The idea is to rise above all such irritations."

This is a wonderful application of the science aspect to training the ego. If we use our people-watching abilities and then apply that to ourselves, then we can begin to train our own ego. There are so many things in life that can prove to be irritating: from traffic to family issues or colleagues, to paying one's bills. Almost always, these sources of irritation are the sticking points of our own egos; so, take the more painful medication and crush the false ego. Lashing out in own form or another proves nothing, but being able to flow with life's problems develops beauty in one's character.

"Life has a jarring effect by its very nature which every sensitive soul can feel. If a person wishes to keep away all jarring influences, he had better not try to live, for life is a constant jarring. Life is motion, and it is in the nature of motion to strike against something. It does not require strength to stand against the jarring influences of life - there is no wall of stone or of iron that can always stand against the waves of the ocean - but a small piece of wood, little and light, can always rise and  fall with the waves, yet always above them, uninjured and safe. The lighter and littler man's ego becomes, the more power of endurance he has. It is two strong egos that strike against one another. The little ego, the light ego, just slips over when a powerful wave of a strong ego comes for it to knock over itself against a stronger wall that may throw it over."

This is a beautiful reminder that our path is being in the world. We don't wish to escape onto the mountaintop (although the occasional retreat may be rejuvenating), we want to embrace life as fully as possible. This means we will be bounced around, knocked about and thrown off our usual course at times. So, by bowing to what may come to us, as unpleasant or as painful as it might be, we become like the willow tree when the winds of life blow. This brings forth our true ego - we become malleable to what life presents.

"The art of dealing with egos of different grades of evolution is to learn gentleness, tolerance, and forgiveness, which all come from charity of heart. When man stands on the same plane as the other, then he is subject to the influence of the other ego. But if he rises above it, then every effort of the other ego falls flat. There is a poem in Hindustani, the verse of Ghalib: 'The world seems to me a playground of children. How constantly busy the infants seem with their toys!' Verily, the secret of peace is hidden under the cover of the ego."

How wonderful is this artfulness of life - if we just keep persisting with the work with our egos, we create peacefulness! The ingredients for success are learning and practicing tolerance, gentleness and forgiveness: living from the heart.

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