If you are familiar with “The Four Agreements” (a popular book by Don Miguel Ruiz) you will remember, “Don’t take anything personally.”
I am called to remember that even though I have been conditioned to think in terms of “I,” the truth is that nothing is about me. As much as I am conditioned to think this way, I am not the center of the Universe, and therefore I should not give myself too much importance, or take anything personally because there is no “I.” The same is true for you: it’s not about you. You are not the center of the Universe, so don’t give yourself too much importance, and don’t take anything personally because there is no “You.”
But why do we give ourselves so much importance?
We came to explain this sense of separation that we experience through this thing that we call “Ego.” The ego makes us believe that we are separated from and in competition with others.
According to the Buddha, we will all experience the following eight worldly vicissitudes throughout our lives: Gain and Loss / Praise and Blame / Pleasure and Pain / Fame and Disrepute. Trying to cling to gain, praise, pleasure, and fame, while thinking that we can shield ourselves from experiencing loss, blame, pain, and disrepute is illogical and impossible.
The ego craves praise and recognition. It wants to win, feel superior. Well, the ego is not a good adviser. Listening to the ego and its demands is a sure source of suffering, because the ego leads us to unwise and unwholesome things. The ego is the one who takes things personally, gets offended, and feels the need to retaliate. The ego seeks revenge and instructs us to inflict pain in someone else. The ego mistakenly believes that if we would wipe out our enemies (as if that would be possible!) everything would be fine. The ego wrongly believes that violent means can bring about the peace we so desperately seek. The ego is the one who believes that the way to get rid of our pain is to seek pleasure, although pleasure has proven time and again never to bring about lasting happiness.
We’d better not listen to the ego. We’d better not take anything personally. We’d better not cling to anything as I, me, or mine, because we are more than these mortal physical beings that the ego makes us believe we are. We are manifestations of an energy that is ever present and immortal. Take a moment to reflect on this passage: “There is a Light that lights every man and woman that comes into the world. That Light is Eternal, All-Powerful and Imperishable. Only that which is subject to birth is subject to death. The Light is the extension of God into man. It is not born nor can it die.” ~ Douglas K. DeVorss , in Eulogy for Baird T. Spalding, in The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East, Volume 6.
Under the rule of our egos, we grew unaware of this Imperishable Light that lives in all of us. We have forgotten our original nature and pure essence. We have forgotten that every child comes into the world with this light, full of love, gentleness and kindness. We have forgotten who we are and why we are here.
Under the rule of our egos, we have made of this planet a place of widespread insanity. Why do we feel this compulsion to compete and defeat others all the time? Why do we oppress, exploit, enslave, take advantage of, torture, and kill other beings? Why are we so violent? Why?
Let us remember who we are and why we are here. We are here to learn, and the most important lesson we all need to learn is to tame our egos. We are here to learn to diminish our selfishness and expand our selflessness. We are here to develop our modesty and contain our arrogance. We are here to learn to grow in compassion and service to others.
Now, let us pause and see what is really happening. Even though things may look bleak the truth is that for every selfish and harmful act there are millions of selfless acts of kindness. There’s a lot more good than bad in the world, and we are perfectly equipped and capable of diminishing what is bad. How? By doing even more good. So let us love, care, and share. Let us focus on the abundant good that exists in our world. Let us realize that Heaven is here, if we want it to be.
“Certainly there are a distinct “me” and a distinct “you” operating in our everyday relationships with the world. Each of us comes as a unique package of qualities and conditions shaped by myriad factors. We call this “my self.” Yet, when we look closely into our lives, we see that we are made up of thousands of what the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls “non-self” elements, such things as earth, water, fire, air, space, carbon, oxygen, parents, genes from the entire planet pool. The same constituents that make up the sun, the stars in the night sky, and the salty seas are part of our common, embodied heritage… it is easy to forget all this.” ~ Saki Santorelli, Heal Thy Self
When the Buddha was asked, “In brief, how is a monk liberated from the destruction of craving?” he replied, “A monk who has understood that nothing is worth clinging to as me, I, or mine, directly knows all things.”
‘The Buddha once said that the core message of all his teachings could be summed up in one sentence. … That sentence is: ‘Nothing is to be clung to as I, me, or mine.’ In other words, no attachments—especially to fixed ideas of yourself and who you are.’ ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness
“He who has realized that nothing is worth clinging to as I, me, or mine, knows all things.” ~ The Buddha
“Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as I, me, or mine.”
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only strives to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation, mindful living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He organizes Silent Peace Walks.
Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”