My teacher had another way of expressing being stuck in ego. She called it being identified. Identified with an illusory separate self who I need to protect and promote. I found myself in just such a predicament yesterday. I was walking the dogs and noticed I was worrying about how I looked breathing through my mouth, which I do a lot when I’m getting exercise. Would I offend people with my ugliness? It was a small hellish view – one I remember having as a child during all of my school years. I walked around constantly wondering what other people were thinking of me.
It’s interesting that after many years of maturing and practicing and developing a life that feels settled, I can still have bouts of insecurity that is no different than my life at eight.
So here’s the difference: now I have moments where I come to. I realized what I was doing and remembered that what I’m really looking for is just about the opposite of what I’m looking for when I’m identified. When I’m identified I look outside myself to others to approve of or reject me. When I’m not identified I realize that what I’m really always looking for is the one who’s looking. The one who’s closer than my own skin.
I believe this is right view. I think it’s hard to have right view while living in the world with a job and a kid and pets and a husband and neighbors. The one I’m looking for is the one who’s looking. I remind myself of this again and again. It’s like coming home. Every time.