Excerpt from Moving Beyond Ego
But despite the human failings of religious institutions, it behooves us to remember that at the spiritual heart of every religion is a twofold message about our existence: we are mysteriously placed on earth by the All-Merciful God, first, to evolve into the fullness of our being, and second, to be of service to God’s creation. We need to work on ourselves continuously so that we become more fully human, and at the same time we need to offer ourselves in service by being a “lamp, lifeboat or ladder” to God’s creation.
Why do we not take these injunctions to heart and live them? The answer is simple: it’s hard work and terribly inconvenient. We find it much easier to counsel others about the importance of doing their inner work, and too often we prefer to focus our energy and attention on the popular narrative of religious institutions: believe this tenet and do that ritual, and you are assured of a safe passage to heaven
Listen to the words of the Buddha: “Know others and you become wise. Know yourself and you become enlightened.”
If we are stuck at the level of consciousness where we have no connection to our divine essence, believing that the sum of our existence is our ego-driven personality, we are truly caught in a trap between a meaningless birth and the terrifying non-being of death. In the too-brief years between such a birth and death, we are condemned to content ourselves with a few scraps of pleasure while our egos desperately seek to satisfy themselves by acquiring more and more goods and physical experiences.
May we taste the essence of who we really are. May we return to the root of our real self.
In this blessed period of Passover and Holy Week, let us remind ourselves of the sacred work of getting to know ourselves, of establishing a relationship with ourselves, of moving from our mask to our real face.