"The biggest ego trip of all is trying to get rid of your ego."
-- Alan Watts, Zen Guide
Who doesn't like to be told they're special? It seems we're always looking for special. We're constantly celebrating special days, special events and most of all special people -- people who stand out above the rest.
Whether it's winning a championship, breaking records, discovering new things or coming up with new ideas, we admire special people who do things we only wish we could do. We love them so much we give them awards, trophies and endless recognition and adoration for being so special.
We see them on TV and read about them attending glamorous parties and events. They lead amazing lives with larger than life personalities. All of which make them even more enviable and special to us.
It's a hallmark of our Western culture. To be special is to be admired and loved.
Which leaves us wanting to be special too. After all, being admired is the greatest flattery of all. The self-indulgent ego boost that comes with the adoration of others is intoxicating.
So, we fill our social media accounts with images of our own specialness. We post pictures of special trips, special friends and special events. We create a highly crafted and carefully edited version of ourselves for the world to see.
All with good reason, it feels great to feel special.
But what if I said the opposite of specialness could be just as special in it's own way? What if by being nothing special you could push the boundaries just as far? Perhaps so far that it becomes the most "special" feeling of all?
That is zen enlightenment.
Freeing yourself from the need to be someone "special" allows you to find an indescribable peace and contentment. Free from any need for outward validation or striving. No longer having to live up to the world's expectations. It is the ability to transcendence yourself and your ego.
In letting go of the need to be "special" zen allows you to find meaning from within. It is a journey where you see the extraordinary in the ordinary. In seeking nothing, you can reconnect with everything and find beauty and specialness everywhere.
To no longer be disturbed by the constant worries of what the world thinks or, more importantly, what you think of yourself.
Where as they say, it becomes "all good."
Of course the difficult part is letting go of all those desires and expectations of being someone special. And that is the hard part of zen. It is a difficult journey inward, a journey of self-revelation and awakening.
It's particularly difficult path to follow in today's world surrounded by endless self-promotion and celebrity obsession. It requires dedication and commitment.
But isn't that why we admire special? We recognize the hard work and sacrifice required to move beyond the ordinary to create something extraordinary.
In zen, this is known as the "uncarved block." It is the specialness of nothing special. It is the connection you make when you are connected to nothing and everything.
It's a special journey to become nobody special.