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Overcoming ego to gain inner peace

I have come to realize that inner peace is our natural condition. So why is it that we don't always experience it?

The Course in Miracles, Buddhism, and Religious Science in particular have helped me realize that there are two different states of mind: the egoic (a feeling of being separate) and the spiritual (the awareness of wholeness). We can choose which state we prefer, once we realize there is a choice, and our choice determines our experience: peace or its opposite.

I have lived my life with a lot of fear — fear of what people think of me, fear of not behaving perfectly, fear of the future. When I am in fear, there is no peace. But I've been fortunate to have been graced with extraordinary experiences of love and ecstasy. These experiences have showed me a different reality from what I know on a day-by-day basis. I believe this reality is what we all can experience constantly if we so choose.

It is hard, but I know it is possible to let go of my desire to be right, to feel superior and to always fulfill my ego needs. The ego feels it will die if it lets go of these, but what it doesn't know is that bliss lies in doing so. I have been able to experience these two different states of mind alternately and to learn of their opposite effects.

Once I was going to attend a farewell dinner for a friend in a particular restaurant but I hadn't been told of a change in location. After a fruitless effort to find my party, I returned home. On the way I was aware of going back and forth between ego and spirit mind. When in ego mind, I was blaming the person who forgot to notify me of the change in restaurant, feeling angry and rejected. But then I moved into spirit mind and was able to laugh at the situation and realize that everything was fine. Finally spirit won out — it felt so much better! I ended up feeling only compassion for the person who neglected to phone me.

On another occasion I was struggling with my desire to hang onto a relationship when what the other needed was freedom. My clinging did not feel good and it wasn't helpful to either of us. When I was finally able to let go, to want for the other what he wanted for himself, I had a great sense of joy and found myself living in a state of love for several weeks afterward.

I wonder if we can come to the place of knowing that there are two different mind states without spending time in meditation, time examining our thoughts. I know it took me many years to first be aware of my thoughts and then to realize I had a choice in what to think and feel.

Buddhist Vipassana meditation was especially helpful in giving me this kind of awareness. I was amazed, in a weekend silent Vipassana retreat, to notice how very much judgment I had; I had identified myself as being very accepting.

I have been helped by many different systems of thought, been to many different workshops, read many books, learned to meditate, to forgive, to focus on the moment and on what I DO want rather than what I DON'T want. But what I know now is that knowledge is not enough. It is up to me to LIVE what I know, to make the daily choices that lead to inner peace.

Nita Rosene resides at Mt. Meadows with her partner for the past three years. She has pursued adventure and travel, dabbled in writing and photography, practiced psychotherapy and taught transpersonal psychology. Now she is happy to live quietly, to enjoy the advantages and beauty of Ashland, and to practice what she knows to be true. You can contact her at nitar@jeffnet.org

To see previous columns visit www.dailytidings.com search box: inner peace. To submit a 650 to 700 word article, please e-mail your submission or questions to Sally McKirgan at innerpeace@q.com.