Studying in India, the spiritual path was described as self-effacement. Effacement meaning to erase from the surface or to efface oneself as to make insignificant. The erasing of our perceived self to reach who we truly are–the dissolution of the surface layers of our temporary self into the more connected Self. It is a completely counter perspective and value to what we instinctively or impulsively feel is natural. Even more so, the shifting of one’s focus from selfish to service is opposite than what we are culturally taught to focus on and feed as the means to our own personal success story.
When you feel the natural lack or void (lacuna in sanskrit), it drives you into the world to find various sense objects and experiences to alleviate its ache. In speaking with a new friend, Chris Briney (owner, Center for Iyengar), his reflection is that no matter how far we think we are on this spiritual path, the protectiveness and sense of I returns as our solution of all of our lacks and needs. Actions performed with selfish (lacking consideration for others) and egocentric (you are the center of the activity) desires brings about stress, fatigue and fear. Actions performed with unselfish desires act as a psychic and spiritual armor. Multiple desires means that you have multiple thoughts. The more thoughts, the more fatigue. Yoga is designed for us to help merge our various thoughts into a singular or more holistic ideal. The my, mine and I is constantly seeking new ways to fulfill the void. It is never satisfied like trying to fill a glass of water without a bottom to catch and fill the glass. Therefore, actions dedicated to more my, mine and I, do not alleviate the ache, fear and void that we are seeking to subside.
It is one of the hardest concepts to digest, nonetheless, live and practice: the more you serve, the more you receive. Any act of turning away from self, giving someone else your time, your last piece of food on your plate, promoting an event for another teacher, providing positive feedback publicly for a friend, can sting the ego. The I is dedicated to it’s own preservation. The death of the I seems to be the death to this life, but if we take time to reflect, it is clear that the less I you feed, the more energy, love and compassion you feel and give to the world.
It requires great reflection to envision a life where your I sits in the background, but through practice and knowledge, it helps illuminate the great need to be service-oriented as a means for greater happiness and joy.