As a retired guy trying to get by on social security, I welcome offers from friends to help them occasionally on painting jobs. My “expertise” accumulated over many years as a painting contractor fits hand-in-glove to their need for experienced casual labor. Such has been the case over the past few days.
The client on this most recent endeavor is an extremely pleasant woman whose gift for gab is obviously a plus in her customer service business. Quick to smile, offering us egg rolls for lunch, and helping as much as possible, this lady talks easily about her adventure in life. Born in Vietnam, lived in Saigon, she remembers the Vietnam War and shows by her attitude her delight in being American.
Yes, she is American, just as I am. There was a time during the height of the War when I uncharitably would have tacked on more adjectives to my description of this lady. My HP has changed my thinking and my ways, but even today I catch myself sending out a simple, “Lord, forgive me for being such a jerk back then.”
My ego has a need to differentiate me from others. It urges me to attach stereotypes, to use crass descriptions, and to believe I am better than others. My ego wants me to label everyone I encounter in an effort to separate from their own humanness. I unwarily fall into ego’s need to control and define who I am. This temporary drift into “uniqueness” is in direct contradiction of the higher Essence which lords my life.
I know today that ego is not the controller. All the labels I use to define me, to describe me, to stroke my sense of self are merely attempts by an ego wanting to be back in control, to preserve its identity. And all the labels I put on others are attempts to put separation between me and fellow humans.
St Francis, in a well-known prayer, ends with: “…..for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to everlasting life.” prayer of St. Francis
Rumi, a 13th century Muslim and Sufi mystic, wrote: “What have I ever lost by dying?” Rumi
Rumi and St. Francis knew the joy and rebirth realized by death and dying of ego.
“Only after you have fallen into the True Self, will you be able to say with the mystic Rumi, ‘What have I ever lost by dying?’  You have discovered true freedom and liberation. When you are connected to the Whole, you no longer need to protect or defend the part. You are now connected to something inexhaustible.” Richard Rohr