I recently read that Steven Spielberg, in a commencement speech, told the Harvard University graduating class to “Find a villain to vanquish.”
I found that advice interesting, because I identified my villain over thirty years ago, and I’ve been fighting him ever since. I’ve tried numerous methods to vanquish this foe, but he keeps coming back, hounding me, making my life miserable. It does no good to simply wound him. I know now I have to kill him in order to be forever free.
That villain? My nemesis? It’s the voice in my head—the ego self-identified as Alan Chin.
And why is he so hard to defeat? Because he often masquerades as a compassionate soul. He more often than not convinces me that he is me, and to hurt him means hurting myself. It’s not true of course. He is a devious creation, and I’ve learned through experience that it is the source of all my anxiety and unhappiness.
Unhappiness? How you ask: because my ego compares and contrasts my life and accomplishments with others, which turns into judgments about them and about me, and I so often come up short and find fault with others in order to defend myself. My ego creates a prison from the expectations of others, and makes me condemn myself and belittle my accomplishments because they don’t measure up to those expectations.
I’m convinced that in all religious myths, including Christianity and Islam, that speak of God vs. Satan and Heaven vs. Hell, these mythical beings and places represent the following: Satan represents the ego; God (or Christ) represents the mind without ego; Heaven is the state of mind without ego dominating thought; and hell is identifying the self as the ego, rather than the true self.
In other words, what’s known as Heaven or Enlightenment or a State of Grace is living in the here and now without ego. I’m not there yet, but each day I know my foe better and better, and I keep fighting the important battle.