As long as there is still a sense of a separate self hanging around, there will inevitably be inflation. Or more precisely, the inherent neutrality is split into a sense of being better and worse than the rest of the world.
Inflation can especially easily happen when the soul level surfaces in its many forms… as alive presence, indwelling God, luminosity, fertile darkness, luminous blackness, or in whatever other form it takes. On the inherent neutrality of all this, stories are placed, and they are inevitably believed in, to some extent at least… oh – I must be special since this is happening to me, finally – all my years of practice is paying off!, I know something others don’t, I am at a more advanced level than others, and so on. As usual, the variations are endless. And it will happen, even if we know, intellectually, the illusion and mistake that is behind it.
Technically, inflation is when the “ego” takes on something as its own, when it really doesn’t belong to the ego. The term “ego” here means (a) a belief in the story of a separate self, and (b) that sense of a separate self is then placed upon this human self. So all that is happening is that what occurs outside of that boundary is, to some extent, placed within the boundary, as if what is inside somehow possesses, or can take credit for, what is outside.
In Zen and some other traditions, they deal with it by not talking about it, and if a student brings it up, the teacher will ignore it, or (figuratively or literally) give the student a smack with the stick.
It works, to some extent, but is also a crude way of dealing with it. Most of the time, it just creates more confusion for the student.
To me, it seems more effective to (a) allow the inflation (it is there anyway, so may as well allow it), and (b) inquire into it to find what is already more true.
I am special.
- Is it true?
Well, yes, it seems true. Not many people report those experiences at least.
- Can you absolutely know it is true?
No, I cannot know it is true. It is only my story about it.
- What happens when you believe that thought?
I feel special (!). Different from others. Better than others, in a certain way. I know something others don’t. <> It feels good for a while, but then I notice how that creates a sense of separation to others. I feel lonely. <> Also, I feel afraid I will lose it. I have something that is special, and I don’t want to lose it, but I know that it won’t stay around forever. I try to hold onto it, but know I can’t. <> I either talk about it to others, and feel better than them, and also that they see me as better than them, or maybe as just arrogant. Or I don’t mention it, because I don’t want to go into those dynamics. Either way, there is a sense of separation and even alienation. <> All around, there is stress. One thought after another, often conflicting. I feel conflicted, split.
- Who am I without the belief?
I am free from the sense of split and separation. I feel genuinely connected with myself, others and life. I am free from any drama around those particular experiences. I see them as just experiences. I know they come and go, as anything else. I see how they, as anything else, are just guest. They come and go on their own. They happen on their own, and they live their own life as anything else. I am free to talk about it or not, and when I talk about it, it is from more clarity, and also knowing it is not about “me” more than about anyone else.
(a) I am not special.
Yes, I see how these things live their own life. They come and go on their own. And they can happen to anyone. It is not really about me, more than it is about anyone else. They happen to visit here right now. Then they will be gone again. And they will visit someone else. They visit innumerable people, in the past, now and in the future. It is really not personal, although it certainly has an impact on the person. It is a gift that can change the individual.
(b) My thinking is special.
Yes, that is true. My thinking is special when it tells me that I am special…! It is thinking that is not inquired into. Thinking that creates the appearance of something that is not there.
(c) Others are special.
Yes, also true. These things can, and do, visit anyone. Also, we are all unique, with our unique perspectives and insights. Every person has something unique to contribute in that way. They see something that others don’t. Even the most (apparently) advanced and insightful person has something to learn from every single other person.
(d) Others are not special.
Yes, true. These things visit anyone. They come and go, for anyone. They do not belong to any one person, or any group of people. And they are not anything created, or made happen, by anyone.
(e) My thinking is not special.
Yes, true. To believe in stories about it, making me appear special, is not special. That too happens to anyone. It is natural, even inevitable, as long as there is the habit of believing in stories. It is an inherent part of the process. And there is even something to learn from it.
Other statements to explore:
- What happened means I am special.
- What happened is special.
- What happened is better than what typically happens to me and others.
- I am better than others.
- I know something others don’t.
- I made it happen.