Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view, with the temperature and the smells that you like the most. You want it your own way. You’d just like to have a little peace; you’d like to have a little happiness, you know, just ‘Gimme a break!’
The more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more your fear of other people and what’s outside the room grows. Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades and locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you just try to get it your way, the less you feel at home.
To begin to develop compassion for yourself and others, you have to unlock the door. At first, you don’t open it yet because you have to work with your fear that somebody you don’t like might come in. Then as you begin to relax and befriend those feelings, you begin to open it. Sure enough, in come the music and the smells that we don’t like. Sure enough, someone puts a foot in and tells you that you should be of a different religion or vote for someone you don’t like or give money that you don’t want to give.
When you begin to face the feelings, you become curious as to why you respond that way. You develop some compassion, connecting with your inner self. You relate with what begins to happen when you aren’t protecting yourself so much. Then gradually you become more curious than afraid. To be fearless isn’t really to overcome fear, it’s to come to know its nature. Just open the door and at some point you’ll feel capable of inviting all sentient beings as your guest.
Pema Chodron – Start Where You Are