Confined in the dark, narrow cage of our own making that we take for the whole universe, very few of us can even begin to imagine another dimension of mind. Patrul Rinpoche tells the story of an old frog who had lived all his life in a dank well. One day a frog from the sea paid him a visit.
“Where do you come from?” asked the frog in the well.
“From the great ocean,” he replied.
“How big is your ocean?”
“You mean about a quarter of the size of my well here?”
“Bigger? You mean half as big?”
“No, even bigger.”
“Is it . . . as big as this well?”
“There’s no comparison.”
“That’s impossible! I’ve got to see this for myself.”
They set off together. When the frog from the well saw the ocean, it was such a shock that his head just exploded into pieces.
Why did the old frog’s head explode?
What I usually call “my self” is actually a collection of five components\building blocks. To take just one component, the fifth, it is comprised of the five senses, mental consciousness, habitual tendencies, and the seeds of our future karma.
These building blocks of ego are called the five heaps, or skandhas. They describe how ego develops and operates and create the illusion of a solid reality.
The old frog was in the habit of thinking that his home (the well) was actually the entire world.
We don’t live in the world of reality, we live in the world of how we perceive reality. <source: Bryan Singer, American film director and producer>Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. <source: Albert Einstein>
When the frog from the sea got the old frog to leave his “world” — the dank well — the latter’s head exploded.
How does this play out in daily life?
One simple example is found in the phrase “exploding in anger.” If my view of how things are and how things should be is challenged, I might explode in anger. It can be upsetting to discover that what we thought was reality isn’t so “real” and solid after all.
Of course, there are many more ways in which we resist what we perceive to be a threat to our own views. We might fold our arms across our chest, shrug, argue for our point of view, become insistent even in the face of proof to the contrary, become silent.
Understanding the components of ego also helps us to understand how we accumulate karma (the second skandha).
…loosening our solid idea of who we are, loosening our solid fixation on our body, on our perceptions, and on our roles iin life, all of which we regard as so important. <source: Eric Holm>
How do we loosen? what could be called the gradual path is consists of the practice of meditation.
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