A stroll through the woods, colourful leaves gently fluttering down to the ground like the wings of butterflies, the sounds of chirping birds, the sunlight turning the bare branches of trees to glistening gold - the heart absorbs such natural delights, with no words, no thoughts. There's a sense of joy... of simply being - free from the world of stress and chaos, free from being 'me.'
The pronouns 'me, you, we, they' are mighty words that can make or break a relationship. They come with varying degrees of ego, thoughts, ideas and perceptions intact. As a singleton, one can enjoy being 'me,' carefree and having fun, with few responsibilities. But then loneliness sets in and this 'me' wants to become 'we.' In so doing, some sacrifice and compromise need to be made. Some are good at it, some not so good, some just keep things going along the bumpy road - every now and then wishing the other half to just leave 'me' alone. For a marriage or partnership to last we are advised that each needs to think as a couple: 'we and us.' 'We' will guard the well-being of both of us and be more willing to share housework, childcare, holiday plans - all of which brings unity and harmony to the relationship. If one still thinks and behaves like one's former self of me and you, this selfishness will lead to disharmony and drive a wedge between the couple. What's more, this 'we' also comes with allied support on both sides, should at any time this 'we' turn to 'you and me.'
This 'me' becomes more pronounced at social gatherings and in a concrete jungle environment. The sense of me-ness needs to up its game to get recognition, to keep up appearances and most of the time to be what it truly is not. This 'me' has expectations and makes demands that things should go according to how 'I' like. If things seem not right, it's because it's not how 'I' like it. This 'me' gets stressed because you, he, she, they get in the way, do things differently from, or disagree with 'me.' The stress that one experiences is actually about this 'me' being dissatisfied. It wants to be this, do that, have this, achieve that. And when it gets everything it wants, it is still not happy. If one can have a lesser degree of 'me-ness' or reduce the sense of 'I' to a smaller 'i', thereby reducing the ego that one carries around to prove one's significance to the world, then more inner happiness can be gained.
Why not free this 'me' from its ego so that it can be true to itself - to enjoy being rather than doing, to do good things, to do what it really wants to do rather than pleasing others or gaining approval from others.
Being a small 'i' doesn't mean one has to give up all one's ambitions. One can still do things to the very best of one's ability without adopting a sense of competition with others but with oneself. Humility thus prevails, unnecessary conflict can be avoided, harmony reigns.
There are many different ways to shake off this ego-laden me. In Thai culture, one bows down to the feet of one's parents, teachers and monks to show great respect. This helps us to develop humility, especially to those whom we regard as our benefactors. A boy or man who is about to become a novice or a monk will bow down to his parents' and preceptors' feet. He lets go of his ego and shows his humility and readiness to learn from the monks after leaving his family. One can also contemplate on the true nature of the body. We don't own this body. If we did, then we could stop it from growing upwards or sideways. Nor can we stop it from ageing, getting sick or dying. It goes through its own natural process. It's not 'me.'
Happiness is in letting go. When you let go, you gain freedom. And if we can let go of this 'me,' even for a short period of time, the burden seems to be temporarily lifted. And on that note, I am off to the woods - to enjoy 'being.' Until the next post, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!