How the ego intellectualizes existence Angela
I am struggling with the contrast between the roles that I perform, the clinging and aversion that are attached to these roles, and the desire to be free of it all. I know that my roles are just social constructs and are not “real” but as a mother, spouse, friend, family member, community citizen and manager of two hospital programs in the middle of wave 3 of this ongoing pandemic I can’t help but feel that these roles are important. They help guide my priorities, mainly towards investing my time in the service of others, which I feel allows me to contribute to the world around me in meaningful and tangible ways. Through my meditation practice I have learned that these are labels, not real, and often it’s my ego that is attached to thinking about myself in these terms. But without these roles who/what am I? Or maybe it doesn’t matter? Maybe these types of questions are my ego’s way of distracting from the point – the ego’s way of intellectualizing my existence. The point is, I am, and I am not, any of these things. These labels are based on my understanding of past events or projection of my actions into the future, and are not based on what is happening in the now. I think perhaps the way to think about it is, who I am in this world is more connected to what I am doing at any given moment and how my senses are interacting with the world around me, rather than how my mind or ego is thinking about it.
This excellent Dharma talk from Angela is touching the root of Zen:
Indeed, our society is like a play in which each of us is acting in many roles at the same time and in different settings such as family, friends and work.
This is how most of us see herself or himself, and how the society perceives each
us interacting within.
As Angela pointed out well: are these societal acting roles are the real me, that is my genuine entity?
For most people, the answer is yes: we are a separate, independent, unique biological and social body-mind entity who comes and goes.
For few, we are more than this reductionist materialistic description. Our genuine self has nothing to do with its materialistic role-playing description.
It is not just an useless philosophical /metaphysical question but a very practical one:
When you realize that you are more than what you think you are that just a material being, serenity is around the corner.
This is the basics of the Koan “ What/Who am I”? that Zen student have to solve before