Traveling light with a backpack full of enlightened ego

Traveling light

It is late at night on a Friday. I am alone and without a home. Not tonight and not for an entire year. My apartment is now the home of an expat. I will have to find home wherever I go this year. I am sitting in a cafe I carefully chose for it’s definitely not crowded with people I know. Not in the mood for bumping into anyone now. This place is for grey-haired people my parents’ age. Probably my friends are buzzing around town celebrating the start of their weekends over booze and sweet tunes, chasing the opposite sex and the feeling of ecstasy in tangy outfits.

I don’t play part in their excitement. Still, being here makes me very happy.

Tonight marks the start of a globetrotting year to come. I booked my ticket to Colombia today, an ocean-crossover kickstarting my year of self-exploration and compassion. People are asking me what I am going to do this year. They think I won’t manage to “just travel” or “do nothing”. That wouldn’t fit our urban rat race kind of mentality. Looking at my life it does make sense, I’m a busy bee, and I always will be. Yet, I hope to find out what makes real sense in this crazy world, and redefine “doing something” as well as “doing nothing”. Above all, I’m longing for an ultimate extension of this feeling, freed from obligations and home-ground. I’m off to entering new environments amidst nature. Opening up to new experiences and people. Breaking through the barriers of my comfort zone, again and again.

But I also feel weird…

Wannabe warrior
Before I came here drinking tea I did more things most people won’t chose to do on a Friday evening. I did a double workout at my gym, bought a salad and ate it while sitting on a bench in a cold and dark park in the heart of Amsterdam. I felt awkward sitting there, wondered what people’d be thinking. On the one hand I felt great of being anonymous and invisible to the social demands of a Friday evening. On the other hand I didn’t feel integrated, I felt alone.

I came to realize that I sometimes flee from (self-imposed) obligations or the implied expectations of other people. This blog was due days ago. I even bothered Atalwin with lame excuses for not being able to make it on the deadline. Sitting there on that bench I made a decision. Living in the physical paradigm is a constant struggle of feeling separated. Separated from others, separated from the real me, separated from the truth. When I set out on the path to increase my level of consciousness and got pass the liberating honeymoon period (bliss! joy! love!) I realized I have a lot of self-work to do. That was (and is) really confronting. Especially when I noticed I have people around me who are involved in my journey, supporting me and loving me. That only increases the feeling of responsibility. The chasm between my daily self, with all my flaws and vulnerabilities, and my true self became greater once I became aware of my patterns. I often feel anything but a warrior, I feel more like a coward.

So, sitting there, alone and cold, yet happy and humming, I made the decision to be a warrior.

The beauty of that moment was that it suddenly became clear what I need to be working on to be in harmony with my environment. I realized this year is going to be my unlearning year. I’m unlearning my urban conditioning and untangle myself from the urban rat-race. I definitely don’t want to be too dramatic about it, but yeah – that’s pretty much it. I want to go from wasting my time to “fit” in the aggregate, to spending it wisely, in the center of where I want to be.

But how?

A Big Mind, Big Heart version of my ego
Last week Atalwin introduced us (the participants in the 100 Day Warrior program) to the Big Mind Big Heart process. This process is a very revealing method of self-inquiry developed by American Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel. I believe I can speak for the group as a whole when I say this provided us an enlightened sneak-peak into our deepest selves. It was confronting, yet helped me to realize that my helping hand is within reach, inside me.

The idea is that we can connect with every desired aspect of the self separately. By identifying with for example ‘Anger’ we can give the mic to Anger and let her speak. We spoke with a selection of key voices of our self, the ones who, honestly, are influencing me every day:

  • The Protector
  • The Controller
  • The Skeptic
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • The Damaged Self
  • The Victim
  • The Vulnerable and Innocent Child
  • Desire

Upon entering the world of spirituality and self-discovery I felt I’d have to let go of all these parts of me entirely, leaving me struggling with difficult situations in which I didn’t know how to respond from the heart – without ego, like these:

—- I can’t be nice to people, all the time, right?
—- Are there really no excuses for blunt behavior?
—- Ironically irony is my preferred choice of humor
—- I feel blue. I should be happy…
—- Can I be empathic and efficient at the same time?
—- Cigarette burning between my lips, oops
—- Love those gloomy melancholic days
—- …and tipsy afternoons
—- …and casual hook-ups
—- I’m in a row. I want to punch
—- I cannot always elegantly ditch time-wasters, can I?
—- This guy is annoying me, GO AWAY!

I know you can’t have enlightenment on speed dial, but our session on the Big Mind Big Heart process provided some clues on how to use the enlightened versions of the voices of the self to guide me in this crazy world. Becoming aware of these voices actually helps to observe my egoistic responses in particular situations. And instead of disapproving of them, I can also slightly twist them to a wiser version.

What a relief, I don’t have to unlearn being human. This year (or lifetime) of stripping bare on all my conditional layers is a great year to twist and turn my ego into a transparent, yet effective shield to function as an integrated human being in this physical paradigm.

So altogether this Friday evening made me realize I can travel lightly. I just have to pack my enlightened ego. The coward in me can come and visit so that I know what to work on, and the warrior in me knows what to do: just keep going.

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