When I was 12 my best buddy Caryl sent me a break up letter at summer camp. I was no longer invited to her bat mitzvah because I had “too big an ego.” Luckily we made up and we’re closer than ever. At 23, a Ms. Magazine co-worker told me that if “egos were measured on a scale of 1-10, you’re a 12!” A couple of years ago, a friend let me know that I had “the biggest ego” she’d ever seen.”
Today I was reminded of that ego when I overheard two students talking before class. “It’s hard to control change,” said a young woman. “It’s impossible to control change,” countered her older companion.
I realized that in the past two years I’d gone from being squarely in agreement with the first comment to leaning towards the second.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the sage advises that the kleshas...ignorance, ego, attachment, aversion and clinging to life are the impediments to samadhi. Ego in this case is the will of the mind, and the rub comes when that individual mind wants to move in its own direction in contrast to the direction “nature intends to move.”*
In other words I’ve identified myself as an object rather than a part of something greater. I’ve thought of myself as a mother, a wife, a friend, a publisher, a writer and at least a dozen other things. And, until recently, I thought I had the power to control the circumstances those aspects of personality found themselves in.
I believed that my mind was more powerful than anything and through the power of my mind I could overcome all obstacles.
While getting ready to sit, I turned to my young classmate “you can’t control change,” I commiserated, “you can only control how you go through it. That’s what the yamas and niyamas are really about.”
You’re born, you die and no amount of grasping, clinging or avoiding is going to revise that equation. The only thing you can control is the grace with which you go from point A to B.
There’s still a healthy amount of “I-ness” to my being and I’m not ready to completely give up the notion of free will but I think my old friend Caryl would be happy that I’ve gone from a 12 on the ego scale to a more respectable 8.
It only took 45 years to get there.
*Yoga The Art of Integration – Rohit Mehta