No one knows why people make sudden breakthroughs into self-awareness, but when they do, the effect is often short-lived. The moment of liberation may be earthshaking, but it passes quickly, leaving no deep or lasting transformation in its wake. There is no great mystery to this. The forces that uphold our familiar world have returned with renewed tenacity. Inertia, fear, the pull of old habits—they all warn us to remain where we are. Who knows what the unknown might bring.
Could a completely new self even survive in this rough world? As children we all learned not to be too sensitive, too open, too vulnerable. We saw the obvious advantages of being as tough as possible, of getting what you want from other people. In this way there arose a very troubling conflict—the clash between love and power—that found lodgings deep inside each of us.
Compassion is not the easiest feeling for the ego to adjust to. On the other hand, compassion is true, and that is its great attraction.
By “true,” I mean that compassion is found at the core of human nature, underneath the covering layers of selfishness. In our time, psychology has dwelt on selfishness as a fundamental drive in the human character, but in the yogi’s eyes, this is a profound misjudgment. To him, compassion and its root feeling, love, are primary in humankind. Whenever they appear, even in a flash, it is our true self appearing, like the sun breaking through the clouds. To the yogi, love and non-love are not striving for dominance. Love is eternal; non-love is temporary, a twist of the psyche that the small, limited, fearful self falls prey to.
Adapted from Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, by Deepak Chopra, (Harmony Books, 2007).