“Most of the time, what we do is work to try to protect this false me, mine, I. We think the ego is our best friend. It isn’t. It doesn’t care if we are happy or unhappy. In fact, ego is very happy to be unhappy. And we must be conscious of not using the spiritual path as another conduit for the ego—a bigger, better, more spiritual me.
There are practices we can use against this egocherishing. In the company of very sick people who are suffering, one can visualize that one is taking in their fear and pain, in the form of dark light or smoke, pulling out sickness and negative karmas, and directing them toward the little black pearl of our self-concern. And it will start to disappear, because, really, the very last thing the ego wants is other people’s problems.
If we do experience pain or suffering ourselves, we can use it. We’re conditioned to resist pain. We think of it as a solid block we have to push away, but it’s not. It’s like a melody, and behind the cacophony there is tremendous spaciousness.
What do we do when thoughts arise in meditation? The thoughts are not the problem. Thoughts are the nature of the mind. The problem is that we identify with them.
How do we learn to dis-identify with them? Practice.
What of emotions like anger? The Buddha said that it’s greed, not anger, that keeps us on the wheel. Nobody’s chaining us down: we’re clinging on with both hands. Many people come to me saying that they want to eradicate anger; it’s not difficult to see that anger makes us suffer. But very rarely do people ask me how to be rid of desire.”