Saturday, March 10, 9979

Existential Pain

When we live via our false self, we feel deep down that we are on the wrong path.  This produces a constant feeling of fear and anxiety, but we can’t pinpoint just what is causing it.  We feel an existential hole, as though we lack something, whether it be internal (self-worth, power, accomplishment, lovableness) or external (wealth, beauty, the approval of others).  We keep up a smiling façade in public because we fear that others would not understand or accept us if they knew that we were so flawed.

Our existential pain is revealed whenever something unpleasant happens.  Someone cuts us off in traffic, or we fail to accomplish a goal, or someone says an unkind word to us, or we incur an unforeseen expense.  A knee-jerk reaction of anger or frustration surfaces.  That is our pain and fear breaking through the façade.  The pain is too great for us to cover it up.  We might pretend that the pain came from the outside event, because to admit that the event merely triggered the pain that was already within us would show others how imperfect we are, and the ego will have none of that.

Lets focus for a minute on getting cut off in traffic.  At first it might appear that the other motorist forced us to feel angry.  Well, if that were the case, then everyone who gets cut off should become angry, right?  But not everyone does.  We became angry not merely from the event, but because the event reminded us of our own feelings of powerlessness, worthlessness, and/or rejection (which caused pain), and violated our egoic belief that we are better than others so they shouldnt get “ahead” of us (which caused frustration).  You see how our own mental processes caused the anger?

We attempt to dull our existential pain by grasping for external things such as alcohol, shopping, money, fashion, television, religion, food, sex, work, and relationships.  The best we get is temporary relief, momentary distraction, because the underlying problem of living as a false self is not solved.  In fact, it is exacerbated, because the external things we grab only make the false self bigger.