Looked for, it cannot be found

This is one of those Zen phrases that, as a youth, I liked to quote. I hadn’t a clue what it meant.

Today, I made some sense of it.

The West’s socio-economic structure plays heavily on the concept of the individual ego. The entire system of motivation and reward is based on personal success, usually measured in financial reward, and self esteem, which is derived from the approval of others. Without ego, this structure wouldn’t make much sense. The ego is the engine which drives the machinery of desire for success.

But what is the height of enjoyment for most people? If you dig deep enough, you discover most people’s recollection of when they had the most fun was when they were so immersed in a particular activity that they are passionate about, that they forget about everything else. They become one with what they are doing and as a result, their ego disappears.

How paradoxical is that? Your ego encourages you to ‘follow your dream’ but the apotheosis of that dream is the destruction of your ego… looked for, it cannot be found.

It seems our entire Western system is designed to lead us away from ego-less self fulfilment. Despite this, some people still manage to find their way back.

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