A term I often use is ‘heavy with ego’. This basically refers to when we become too conscious of oneself. For me, it can have an overbearing quality, as if a great weight hangs on me. I often found this comical as its like saying that I find myself ‘too much to bare’.
But being ‘heavy with ego’ is more than being conscious of oneself. Typically, it is a sense of oneself alone in the world. This is not the same as loneliness though. Usually, a person ‘heavy with ego’ is not feeling alone. It’s a particular type of loneliness. To me, its more like a loneliness for existence. They feel themselves but not existence, nor do they feel themselves within existence. In a sense, they are as if just ‘there’ suspended in some mysterious fog. They feel themselves very strongly because its as if there’s nothing else there but them. It is not something like a narcissim either, or a self concern. It seems to be a focusing on oneself because existence can’t be felt for some reason. Under this condition, all there is to look at is themself.
The problem is that they need something else other than themselves – existence. This failure seems to lead to this sense of heaviness or burden. It’s like your carrying on your shoulders this passion that is intended for something but its not there so you carry it around. After a while it becomes a burden.
Quite a few people have a character that seems to have this as a dominant trait. It seems to me, that people with this quality as a character trait tend to age more quickly. This seems to suggest that it takes a lot of a persons energy to maintain. It’s like this sense of self sucks up ones energy.
Of course, the best remedy for this is to try to forget yourself. But that’s often not enough. A lot of times a person must seek to find this sense of existence. I have found that being aware of existence is not the problem. Its having the right conception of existence that matters. How you see existence is critical. To say, “yes, I am here in the middle of creation” is not enough. That’s just an intellectual idea. There needs to be more than that.
Overall, I’ve found that the conception of creation, to be effective, requires a sense of what I can only describe as a ‘life’ or a ‘sanctity’ to it. Looking at existence as something mechanical, logical, and dead leads to feelings of being ‘heavy with ego’.
But what is a ‘living existence’? This is not an easy thing to describe. This condition, of not being able to describe it, no doubt leads to its power and its quality of being hard to attain. If it were easy to attain then we’d probably hardly notice it. This gives it all the more power.
The opposite of ‘heavy with ego’ is what I’d call ’empty longing’. Unlike being ‘heavy with ego’ here there is a lack of a sense of self. It leads to a sense of despair. Existence seems to be gone. The self is not felt. A person feels empty. Life feels empty. This can lead to great feelings of meloncholy and depression which is often nothing but being worn down with ’empty longing’. That is to say, long periods of ’empty longing’ prones a person to depression.
Even the word I use – ’empty’ – shows a loss of a sense of life with this emotion. ‘Empty’ is almost like saying ‘half dead’. ‘Dead’ would mean hopeless (and when there is no life there is no hope). ‘Empty’ implies hope. When one is ’empty’ we are wavering between hope and hopelessness (that is, lifelessness and life). This is the emotion ’empty longing’ conveys. But, still, life is whats sought . . . and its not there.
A ‘living existence’ has with it this sense of something more like an ‘energy’. Compare it to a sense of an electric current perhaps? Being susceptable to this ‘energy’ is not always easy. Our state of mind can greatly affect how we absorb it. It’s very true to say that ‘life affects us’. It comes from existence, passes through us, and then out of us like some great river. Being receptive to ‘living existence’, it seems to me, is the issue of these two emotions. When we are ‘heavy with ego’ or feeling ’empty longing’ we are not being receptive to the life from ‘living existence’. This makes this emotion difficult.
These emotions also brings out the point that a person can be lonely for existence because existence is an ‘entity’, a ‘something’, a ‘beingness’, much like a person. And, like a person, it is something that accompanies us, supports us, helps us, we become intimate with it, we argue with it, rebel against it, and so on. One of the perceptions of existence is as a person. In reality, we all have the same type of joys and conflicts in relating with existence as we do in associating with people. Nowadays, people aren’t all that aware of it though. In the past they did. Back then, living existence was often given a name and called a God.