People often comment that the goal of eastern philosophy is to crack the ego, moving beyond self to something more whole.
Practically, though, that usually means replacing the indvidual ego with the shared ego. Instead of having our own desires, we internalize the desires of the group, which often means internalizing the desires of the guru, the current leader of the group.
It’s amazing how clear you can become when you cast off desire. Rather than being vulnerable to buying into anything or using any strategy to get what you want, you can see things from a distance. It’s something I learned to do early, to stand alone and watch rather than be in the middle and be swept along by the group.
The problem is that the life of the flesh is one that requires desire to move forward. This may be a desire clothed in altruism, sure, or one that seems frivolous (or, if you are Oprah, both together), but it’s desire and it comes from the ego. Seeing the big picture and moving away from desire may give you the view from the mountain top, but it is cold and lonely up there, and without contact, getting what you need to simply live becomes very, very hard.
I had someone tell me that they were thinking of entering another self-help program, one that works on Lowen’s idea of breaking down engergy defenses in the body. He tells me that most people get too defended and stay that way, so it has to be broken out.
I wondered what these people do with someone who has dropped their defenses and then feels too vulnerable, too exposed and not able to live with the jars and bangs of a life spent servicing the machine. I suspect, though, that they get few people like that, because so few are willing to really move past desire, even if they are willing to subjugate their own desire to the desire of the group and its guru.
You have to want something bad in order to do the hard work of persistently striving for it. And when you really crack desire, well, wanting something that bad seems to be the path to losing yourself again.