I was fed up with the rat race...So I decided that I would serve at a monastery(for few days) and fill my world with peace.I waited for the D-day with lot of excitement.One of the jobs I was given was to cook.I had to prepare meals for 40 people.Preparing the meal was not difficult.But as usual I was worried about the results.All thoughts starting with "IF "..became the major theme in my mind.
As the people who meditate eat very less..The only "whole" meal was during lunch.I was worried that if I would mess up,then they would starve the whole day.My anxiety used to turn into panic attacks when serving time approached.I became little paranoid..I also used to get obsessed with perfection,tried working the whole day and sleeping only for few hours.The service became a misery to me.I had to deal with all the issues I normally have in a professional work place.After 3 days,I started missing my work-life...That was less stressful..."At least I don't have nightmare's where people suffer from food poisoning."
Humility is one of the best ways of dissolving the ego.Everything we achieve in the field of professional/personal/spiritual realm makes us more confident and the downside to that is that ,we feel, we are more important.Service was one of the ways which helped me understand the way my ego works.But even in service we start having expectations...We want to get noticed,we want to compete and we want to attach ourselves to the results.As I was returning back to my home I realized that,we can change the background in our life.But wherever we go,we project our own world.Our mind is filled with lot of issues which call for attention.
The food turned out good.All my worrying went in vain.There was a American psychologist( PhD and all the additional tags) who used to wash dishes there.He never traded places with any of us.According to him, dish washing was the easiest way to Nirvana.A educated person doing manual labor, is the ultimate solution for the intellectual ego.Gandhi followed that a lot in his life.
We all have the major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. ... And the great issue of life is to harness the major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don't distort it and pervert it. Don't give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The meditation I talk about is Vipassana Meditation(www.dhamma.org)