Taming the Little Dictator

I am fascinated with dictators.  Short men with tall egos who tyrannize millions of people.   Unfortunately, we have many examples in the last century-Stalin, Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, to name a few.  But there are other dictators, who are less obvious, but no less threatening.

Charlie Chaplin from the film “The Great Dictator.”

They are our inner dictators, the voices inside our heads which cast doubts on our looks, skills, and abilities.  Perhaps they are the voices of authority we heard as children, who were demanding or unreasonable.  They tell us we are not clever enough or talented enough.  They chase away our confidence and fill us with dread.   They tell us if we try and fail, we will look like fools.  They convince us that we will never be good enough.

I am tired of my little dictator who wakes me up in the middle of the night and whispers in my ear.  Are you?  But how do we banish them?  The musician, Kenny Werner in his book Effortless Mastery tells us how.  He reminds us that the dictator is the unique voice of our ego (our limited “I” consciousness).  It tyrannizes and deludes us into thinking we are the center of the universe.  The Hindus named this state of being maya or disillusion. It keeps us locked in a limited state of mind and disconnects us from wider awareness of the universal mind or sadhana, which is generous, loving, and joyful.

Can you recall a time when you were connected to the universal?  It is easy to remember because in those moments, we are filled with peace and happiness.  We glide through whatever we are doing.  I can recall one of those moments when I was swimming years ago in an outdoor pool one summer afternoon.  Every stroke was effortless.  My mind and body were intensely aware of the sunlight sparkling on the water, the trees bowing and sweeping in the breeze, the smells of suntan lotion, and the feel of the water slaking off my skin.  It was pure joy.  In those moments of connection, we feel the magnificence of who we truly are–because our egos are silent.

So, here’s his first step for banishing the little dictator who rules our egos with an iron fist.  Get honest with ourselves.  Control our minds.  How?  Cultivate detachment, so that we are experiencing life separate from our egos.  Some people practice that detachment in prayer, others through yoga and meditation.  Still others through the act of creation–in music, poetry, prose, painting, cooking or gardening–you name it.  Anything that quiets the mind and let’s you focus on the moment.  Some of you will insist you are not creative.  But I disagree.  We are all creative beings–whether we sew or paint or knit or cook or garden.  No one act is better or loftier than other.

In these timeless, self-less moments, we are creating an inner creative space which is joyful and boundless.  In my next post, I will continue to explore ways we can create these ego-free moments of peace.

My goal this week is to tame the little dictator by taking more time to create and spending less time on self-criticism, worry, doubt and fear.  In the meantime, I invite you to share one of those blissful moments when you experienced the universal.  Have a wonderful week!


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