I had been waiting and waiting for ego-loss to arrive in the mail. When the envelope finally was delivered on Saturday you can imagine how excited I was. I’ve been meditating every day for nigh on thirty-five years, and so far I’ve made scant progress in laying aside that devilishly strong “Me! Me! Me!” part of me that doesn’t want to stop thinking about Me, Me, Me.
But I was expecting that one glance at what was inside the envelope was going to produce a short-cut to satori land. For this was a copy of an article that I had written for a spiritual magazine, “RS Greetings,” as noted in a weblog posting a few months back. I’d been told that the magazine was going to publish the article, but I had let my subscription lapse. So a friend told me when the issue came out and agreed to send me a copy of my piece.
What does this have to do with ego-loss? Well, the magazine’s editor had told me that it was now their policy to not print authors' names, so I was going to be Anonymous. Not even that, actually. Just blank. I argued some with her, not so much because I love to see my name in print (though I do), but because this magazine is published by a group called “Science of the Soul.” What kind of a science is it, I asked, that puts forth anonymous “research findings”?
Admittedly, my article was more humorous than serious. Still, I tried to make some substantive points about the nature of happiness, and why material things usually don’t bring us the satisfaction we expect they will. I might have made some errors in what I said. I might quoted somebody incorrectly. I might have misinterpreted some happiness research. I might have drawn the wrong conclusions from the articles I cited.
If I did any of these things, I’d like to know about it from someone more knowledgeable than me. Heck, even if they weren’t more knowledgeable and simply disagreed with me about something, I’d like to know about that too. So I told the editor that their Anonymous policy prevented readers from offering valuable feedback, and from authors learning from those readers. That’s the way of science, open discussion and review of purported findings.
The magazine powers-that-be apparently felt, however, that not publishing authors’ names was spiritually healthy. I guess not being recognized for a charitable article contribution earns more karmic Humble Points than having your name attached to it. OK, I could sort of understand that.
So I was eager to find out what would happen when I opened the envelope and didn’t see my name associated with the article. I’ve seen enough movies to fantasize about what might happen: as I tear open the seal, a bright light glows from within and flows out of the envelope, enveloping me, appropriately enough, in a cozy warm cocoon of enlightenment.
Or so I hoped. Sadly, my first glance was of a misspelled article title that I had labored to come up with. It’s “enlightenment” not “enlightment”! Then, I had an irresistible urge to get a big thick pen and write in my name. Guess the ego-loss thing didn’t work.
So I learned that there is no short cut to enlightenment. Or even enlightment. Guess I’ll have to take the long route, which I probably would traverse a lot more quickly if I took to heart the great cartoon that Bart Goldman drew--included at the end of the article. Bart and I collaborated on a series of cartoons some years ago, he supplying all the artistic talent and me supplying some concepts. Glad one of them finally got to be published.
For those interested, here’s another copy of my “Secrets of Happiness” a.k.a. “My Mini Enlightenment” article. It’s the same as in previous posting, but hopefully formatted to be easier to read.