Memorable Quote: “Instead of being motivated by our agendas, sometimes generations old agendas, we can just be present with ourselves.”
Synopsis: Jose asks us to be present with that feeling we might get at the end of a long day, when we ask ourselves the question: Where has the day gone? The thrust of this question comes from what he calls the “ego project,” in which we attempt to build up, support, and show off all that belongs to “I” and “mine.” This project puts us at the center of the world, in our glory, our shame, as heroes and villains. In support of the ego project, we seek concrete proof, evidence that “I” have succeeded in what “I” wanted to do. It’s natural to seek these small reinforcements of the self: a good paying job, an article published, a prize earned, a promotion. But all too easily this pursuit of a better CV can take over our lives, and our waking moments may become dedicated to “obituary improvement.”
Our ego projects can be manifest in everything we do, from raising our kids to our meditation practice. We hear some parents say that when their children act out, it reflects on them. In these moments, we can ask ourselves, is this a true concern for our child, or am I bringing my own self-image into the process, for instance in the hope to get for them what I didn’t have? Perhaps most insidiously, our ego projects can also contaminate our sitting practice. We label our sits “good” or “bad,” we rush to tell our friends about how deep our practice is, and how much it has improved us as people. Luckily, the ego project falls apart when you confront it head on. Through simply being present with the efforts of self-creation and self-enhancement, the project loses steam and vanishes. For at root, the project itself is doomed.
I like: I really appreciate Jose’s subtle analysis of our ego projects can inject themselves into all aspects of our lives.
I wish: I wanted Jose to say more about how we can have life projects that aren’t about our selves. Is it that we should seek different projects, projects that are less about recognition? Or should we have less projects altogether?
More about the Speaker: After decades of practice and teaching, what inspires Jose are those moments when he can see the habitual as if it were for the first time. If such moments occur while he’s giving a talk, then the teacher in him can hear its own words imbued with the freshness imparted by those who truly listen — the multiple aspects of myself being part of the audience as well. Hear more of his talks at www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/95/