"I gave up acting so I could be real. Actors can be very pretentious, and I was definitely becoming that way and wanted to be more authentic as a human being," said our friend and actor Linus Roache, in an interview we did for our new book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. He is currently starring as Mike Cutter, the prosecuting attorney in TV's Law and Order. "Acting is a profession full of the dangers of ego and narcissism and so being an Actor appeared contrary to the path of meditation and freedom that I was yearning for. So I stopped acting for two years to study Evolutionary Enlightenment with Spiritual Teacher Andrew Cohen"
What is this ego that keeps us so stuck in self-centeredness, thinking we are the most important person around? The ego gives us a strong sense of ourselves; it is the "me" part. This is neither good nor bad, except when such self-centeredness dominates our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of life. A positive sense of self gives us confidence and purpose, but a selfish aspect of the ego makes us unconcerned with other people's feelings; it thrives on the idea of me-first and impels us to cry out, "Look at me!"
As Robert Thurman, who wrote the Foreword to our book, says: "I think I am the most important being in the world, but nobody else thinks it is about me, time doesn't think it is about me, space doesn't think it is about me, the planet doesn't think it is about me. It doesn't take much to get the message that it is actually not about me! But if somebody comes and steps on my toe or wants to take away my strawberries, then suddenly it is all about me again!"
By seeing how we equate ourselves with images of who we think we are, or with labels that reinforce that image and make us appear special--"I am an American, Russian, Christian, Muslim; I am an actor, teacher, doctor"--so the many manifestations of the ego appear before us. In the search for meaning, we hide behind our title, profession, or religion and become attached to the story the label creates, even introducing ourselves in terms of labels, or only relating to others who identify themselves in the same way.
The ego also makes us believe that we are the dust on the mirror, that we could never be so beautiful as the radiant reflection beneath the surface. Yet how extraordinary to believe that we cannot be free when freedom is our true nature! When we begin to see that such self-centeredness does not lead to happiness and we yearn for something more genuine, when we realize that the pit of meaninglessness and emptiness inside is never truly satiated no matter how much we feed it, or when we have just had enough of chaos and suffering, then the longing for change arises.
Linus, although an actor, is exceptional at bringing together the two worlds of ego and spirituality. "I realized that it is not just actors who are full of ego, everybody is! Everybody has their layers of pretenses and images of who they think they are. I finally saw that acting was not the problem; rather, it was my relationship to it that mattered. I could actually be a real, authentic person who also happened to act. The difference was the awareness of seeing that I am playing an ego, rather than being stuck in an ego. There is no separate spiritual life and working life and personal life. There is only one life. Without access to the inner dimension of freedom, I cannot be either an actor or a fully authentic person."
How has your ego dominated your actions? Do you have any stories to share below? You can receive notice of our blogs every Thursday by checking Become a Fan at the top. And you can pre order BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World
Ed and Deb Shapiro's new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Byron Katie, Michael Beckwith, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Gangaji, Ellen Burstyn, Ed Begley, Dean Ornish, Russell Bishop, and others, will be published November 3rd 2009 by Sterling Ethos.
Deb is the author of the award-winning book YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND. Ed and Deb are the authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. They are corporate consultants, and the creators of Chillout daily inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. See: www.EdandDebShapiro.com
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