To end the bizarre tyranny of ego is why we go on the

spiritual path, but the resourcefulness of ego is almost infinite

and it can at every stage sabotage and pervert our desire to be

free of it. The truth is simple, and the teachings are extremely

clear; but I have seen again and again, with great sadness, that

as soon as they begin to touch and move us, ego tries to complicate

them because it knows it is fundamentally threatened.

At the beginning, when we first become fascinated by the

spiritual path and all its possibilities, ego may even encourage

us and say: "This is really wonderful. Just the thing for you!

This teaching makes total sense!"

Then when we say we want to try meditation practice, or

go on a retreat, ego will croon: "What a marvelous idea! Why

don't I come with you? We can both learn something." All

through the honeymoon period of our spiritual development,

ego will keep urging us on: 'This is wonderful—it's so amazing,

so inspiring ..."

But as soon as we enter what I call the "kitchen sink"

period of the spiritual path, and the teachings begin to touch

us deeply, unavoidably we are faced with the truth of our

selves. As the ego is revealed, its sore spots are touched, and

all sorts of problems will start arising. It's as if a mirror we

cannot look away from were stuck in front of us. The mirror

is totally clear, but there is an ugly, glowering face in it, our

own, staring back at us. We begin to rebel because we hate

what we see; we may strike out in anger and smash the mirror,

but it will only shatter into hundreds of identical ugly

faces, all still staring at us.

Now is the time we begin to rage and complain bitterly;

and where is our ego? Standing staunchly by our side, egging

us on: "You're quite right, this is outrageous and unbearable.

Don't stand for it!" As we listen enthralled, ego goes on to

conjure up all sorts of doubts and demented emotions, throwing

fuel on the fire: "Can't you see now this is not the right

teaching for you? I told you so all along! Can't you see he is

not your teacher? After all, you are an intelligent, modern,

sophisticated Western person, and exotic things like Zen,

Sufism, meditation, Tibetan Buddhism belong to foreign, Eastern

cultures. What possible use could a philosophy made up in

the Himalayas a thousand years ago be to you?"

As ego watches us gleefully become more and more

ensnared in its web, it will even blame all the pain, loneliness,

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