Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


the evil genius in each of us

Posted on August 27, 2006 by jimparedes

Yesterday, the priest at mass urged the faithful to exert pressure against the passing of the reproductive bill soon to be discussed in congress. Another explosive debate, I am sure.

A wise old musician, Roger Hererra once told me that the two most contentious topics in the world are politics and religion. He says that if one reviews all the wars in the world, these two could claim the most number of casualties. It was his way of chiding me for my political involvement then when he used to play for us many years ago. While I thought then that the statement was simplistic, I know that it makes for a fascinating thesis. Why, because one, the political sphere claims to speak for the governance and social order of the lives of men. The other, religion, claims to speak for the sphere of beliefs beyond the material or the souls of men(although some may claim it also has domain over material and earthly concerns). No wonder they’re explosive! They claim to cover everything.

Just watch TV and you will see all types of televangelists–the pompously dressed, the hysterical, those who threaten with eternal damnation, etc. They are slick and enticing. Then there are the politicians who can blow on the pied piper flute of various concerns that can raise everyone’s hopes or hackles. And there are the priests of various religions who talk like politicians, and vice-versa.

It’s amazing that even as politics and religion both claim to unite people, they have done just the opposite many times. The real reason though why they have become two swords that have divided humanity into as many splinters as we have seen in history is not so much because they make such huge claims and have largely failed to deliver. The reason is they have the great ability to entice the ego, and many times it is the ego that believes it has the right to speak on their behalf.

The ego, once hooked will defend, attack to win, fight to persevere, or preserve itself and when it can, attain superiority. It is the evil genius that sucks everyone into arguments. And when it is a collective ego, a nation, a race, or any group of egos with a shared identification that is threatened, it can be more dangerous. It can go to war and genocide all in the name of ‘good’ causes. It can also lead to religious purges and executions, yes, in the name of a God whose followers feel was insulted, threatened or diminished in some way by ‘ the enemy’.
The New Earth, a great book discusses the workings of the ego in detail.

I often ask myself if God can ever be diminished, hurt, or feel insulted. More importantly, does God have an ego? What do you think? Does God need to be defended, or is it us who need to defend our view of what God is, or what ‘right’ is? Think about it. What if you could set aside ego? What if you did not feel the need to be right? Isn’t the ego the only thing that makes forgiveness or renewal impossible?

I think of all those I have ever percieved to be ‘enemies’ at some point, and there have been many–the Inquirer recently, ha ha. Or the commenters on blogs that just love to argue (yeah, I get hooked too.). When the heat of the moment has disspitated, I often wonder about the ‘valid’ reasons that made them adversaries except that they seemed to threaten MY view of the world, MY values, or aroused MY ego into defend and attack mode, and vice versa. Eckart Tolle says everytime we use ‘my” we are seduced by the ego.

The ego is a genius as I said. It can masquerade as a good or righteous guy, or any other persona it needs to be to survive. It’s nature is to view itself as separate, as in superior or above others. Thus, it loves to condemn and judge. If it needs to be ‘spiritual’ it can do that too. Rinpoche Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist wrote a book about spiritual materialism where he says the ego will even claim enlightenment, or ‘blessedness’ to raise itself. Magaling talaga. Is there any escaping the stranglehold of this evil genius?

Allow me to answer in a non-academic way as I share experiences of my occasional flights from ego’s dominance..

I feel very liberated when I sometimes find myself in ‘the zone’. This is where I am NOT pulled by concerns to be anything but just being in and with the moment. And more and more, I do not just ‘find’ myself there. I actually make it my practice to consciously choose to be there. And sometimes, I succeed.

no sky to hold up
no ego to feed or protect
no self-esteem to nurture
no clinging
no grasping
no worries
no concerns
no past
no future
no self!

just being..

When does this happen?

When I write music, when I am writing just like I am writing now, when I am performing, when I am with anyone and I am fully present with him/her, when I don’t demand for anything, when I don’t expect any outcome and just flow with whatever is. It does not matter what one is doing. It’s not about that. Everything IS, and that means it is the state of the art of what it can be at the moment.

And when you can be one with just that, you will find there is no tension, no conflict. And what happens is it opens all your creative channels to engage the present without conditions. You feel like you are REALLY an offspring of the Great Creator, the carrier of God’s creative DNA, capable of creating wonderful things too. You write,sing,love, you ARE–without conditions. It’s a moment when you are not asking, not needing anything. You are complete. In the zone, I keep on discovering that the moment one stops asking, it is given. Everything you need is inside of you. You’re the fire and breath of your own soul. And in the zone, you keep catching yourself just saying ‘thank you.’

But can’t religion and politics do that to you as well? Yes. Actually, anything can bring you to this state. Many athletes like Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods, performers, religious and saints experience this too all the time. The common thread is letting go of ego. You lose yourself and gain the world, so to speak because there is no ‘self'(in the common way we know it) that stands in the way. And no, you are not living in some cloud. You are in your body. You are here. You are, to borrow a Christian phrase, ‘in the world but not of it’. The divine in you kicks in as you are plugged into the powerhouse of the present time.

To lighten the ending, I leave you with some interesting and light quotes on religion:

‘If you are a Christian, and are interested in Buddhism, study it not to become Buddhist but to be a better Christian.’–the Dalai Lama

” I belong to the one true church of the oonly real God of which I am the sole member.’ –a guest at Larry King

‘When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.’–Abraham Lincoln

‘Among politicians the esteem of religion is profitable; the principles of it are troublesome.’ –Benjamin Whichcote.

“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.”—George Burns.

“I admire the Pope. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can tour without an album.”–Rita Rudner.

“Thank God I’m an atheist.”—Luis Bunuel.

“When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.”–Emo Philips.

‘”Hearing nuns’ confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn.”–Bishop Fulton Sheen.

-Why don’t you just settle things like good Christians’– a US diplomat talking to Muslim Arabs and Jews.

39 to “the evil genius in each of us”

  1. Anonymous says:

    GOD does not have an ego because HE is perfect. He does not feel diminish,insulted or hurt because in Him is an outpouring of LOVE.He gives us unconditional love. All the things that you are trying to say is just an inner expression of one word and that word is
    H A P P I N E S S

  2. junger says:

    why do politics and religion have a monopoly on the way we live now and the after life? what if they had an election and nobody showed up to vote? what if they had a mass and nobody went to church? why can’t we free ourselves from the social and spiritual constraints of organized religion and the political structure?

    i would like to stop being a wage slave. i would like to generate my own energy from the ether. grow crops from mother earth with my own hands to feed myself and my loved ones. be able to share goods and services with my fellow man. discern the goodness in everyone and urge myself to do good even in the smallest amounts. discover my unconditional love for everything and limitless creative potential. be self sustaining and live in peace knowing that my life doesn’t end after my physical one does.

    ‘you may say i’m a dreamer, but i’m not the only one’ – John Lennon

  3. Jim says:

    Hey guys, that’s ‘the zone’, baby!

  4. Doranne says:

    i read something today tangentially related:

    “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”
    -Walt Disney

    guess we all have to find what drives us and NNOT stick to it.. coz there’s infinitely more out there.

  5. Arjay says:

    “It’s a moment when you are not asking, not needing anything. You are complete. In the zone, I keep on discovering that the moment one stops asking, it is given. Everything you need is inside of you. You’re the fire and breath of your own soul. And in the zone, you keep catching yourself just saying ‘thank you.”

    Quoted for truth. This is EXACTLY how I feel when I’m playing guitar in any mass service.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Politics and religion divide people. One thing that unites people … the universal language of good music!

  7. mcm says:

    People like to be justified for their acts or views on things. They want to believe that their interpretation of things is correct. This therefore feeds their egos into thinking that they alone are correct. Do you think that if the leaders of the world realized this there could be peace in the world?

  8. Jim says:

    Mom–‘People like to be justified for their acts or views on things. They want to believe that their interpretation of things is correct. This therefore feeds their egos into thinking that they alone are correct’

    That’s right and most everyone is guilty of this.. The real skill is the willingness to stop ifdentifying with our opinions and views when they do not ring true anymore. Non-attachment. Zen puts it so well–‘you don’t have to search for truth. Just don’t cling to opinions and thoughts.’ When it’s time to drop it, do so. Easier said than done of course, but a good practice..

    arjay–so you’ve been there too! great.

    Anonympous–yes, music does that to me too.

    Doranne–There’s an infinite no. of things to do and ways to do it. What stops us from having fun are the conditions set by ego.

  9. kat says:

    I like that quote from the Dalai Lama. Goes to show that we can learn from others, even if their belief is different from ours.

  10. smiles says:

    Have you ever read any of the Seth/Jane Roberts books or the Kris/Brahm material?

    For me, the material goes a bit further than Christianity, Buddhism, or any other religion and since you’re reading Tolle and Wilber….. I thought maybe their material would interest you.

    Just Google it!

  11. Jennie says:

    Apo Jim,

    You asked: “Does God need to be defended, or is it us who need to defend our view of what God is, or what ‘right’ is?”

    I believe it’s the latter. It’s the main reason why the world is in the situation it is now. It’s the reason why people get into all sorts of unnecessary arguments because they always want to prove they are right. It’s not just about religion, mind you. It’s in our nature. Our ego cannot take the possibility of someone else being right or others having a valid opinion that totally opposes our own.

    It takes real guts to swallow one’s pride and own up to our mistakes.

    My personal opinion is this: religion is just another way of dividing people. Humans already have things like gender, race and sexuality to worry about. I don’t mind it if people practise their beliefs – that’s their right – I just don’t want people shovelling it down my throat. Please, have some respect for others.

  12. m says:

    in fairness, maganda yung caricature mo sa inquirer nung saturday. mukha kang 10 years younger! :)

  13. ivoryhut says:

    God is not answerable to man in the way that man is answerable to himself for his idea of God.

    But God must feel hurt. When was hurt ever a sign of weakness? If God can rejoice when one of his sheep returns to the fold, then doesn’t it follow that he must feel hurt and sadness when one is lost?

    You make a clear point. Ego gets in the way. It is ego that makes people mistake humanity for weakness. And it is ego that makes us think more of ourselves than is necessary. Which is always a dangerous thing.

    Great post, as always.

  14. abet says:

    I would recommend watching the BBC documentaries hosted by Alain De Botton. Watch it on the ABC, sometimes it airs quite late.

    :)

  15. Floyd Robinson says:

    I wonder how Roger Hererra can say that religion can also claim the most number of casualties.

    Perhaps it would have been more enlightening and fair to consider how the lack of belief, or the absence of belief in God, has contributed, or is currently contributing, to the actual number of murders around the world:

    1. Abortion

    Number of abortions worlwide: approximately 46 Million

    Number of abortions per day:
    approximately 126,000

    Legal abortions:
    About 26 million women obtain legal abortions each year, while an additional 20 million abortions are obtained in countries where it is restricted or prohibited by law.

    In the US alone:

    Number of abortions per year: 1.37 Million (1996)

    Number of abortions per day: Approximately 3,700

    Read more

    Blessed Mother Teresa calls abortion as the “modern” world’s war against the helpless unborn child.

    How did the slaughter of babies came about? It happened when people think that an embryo in a woman’s womb is not a human person, that God is not the author life, that God is some outdated belief that has no place in a modern world, and when people approved abortion. Religion, according to pro-choice advocates, interferes with a woman’s “free” choice.

    2. Deaths caused by movements that don’t believe in God

    a) Nazi holocaust:
    Approximately 5,754,000 Jews

    b) Communism:
    Approximately 148,000 Million
    Read more

  16. pretty_wicked says:

    The ego, once hooked will defend, attack to win, fight to persevere, or preserve itself and when it can, attain superiority.<== so true

  17. Lani says:

    In psychological sense, we all live in our own separate reality. The things that make me happy might seem not important with others.

    My opinion regarding certain issues might be different from others. But it doesn’t mean that I’m right and they are wrong – or vice versa. The way we see life will always seem correct – to ourselves. There are times that I don’t see things the way other people do. I admit that sometimes I get irritated with this. But it’s natural, isn’t it?

    I think it’s about respect, respect each other’s space, opinions, and beliefs.

    I am “me” when I’m with my family and loved ones. It’s “my zone.” I can be who I am without thinking how people will criticize me.

  18. benign0 says:

    The underlying challenge is for Pinoys to be able to differentiate between religiousness and spirituality.

    There’s a big difference between the two that most people can’t seem to grasp.

    Religion is about dogma and judgement, while spirituality is about understanding and openness.

    Religion tends to exclude while spirituality tends to embrace.

    It’s no secret that much of (if not all of wars fought by humanity in the last 1000 years was fought in the name of some kind of organised religion.

    The Catholic Church itself has a blood-soaked history — responsible for its share of genocide, terrorism, and zealotry-inspired conflict.

    To see our society — even as the 21st Century unfolds — still being led by the dogmatic tunnel-vision of the Catholic Church is disturbing to say the least.

  19. wandering storyteller says:

    i don’t know about ego, but the god of the bible is a jealous god — and he admits it in scripture. this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because as He tells it, why wouldn’t he be jealous when you’d rather worship a piece of wood?

    =)

  20. Bass Poet says:

    Hi Jim,

    Historically, religion and politics has embedded and conditioned society in subtle and insidious ways to conform to their hidden agenda. Religions play a subversive role of divide and conquer with politics as the agent and driving force.

    I do not want to regress and rehash the past. I live for the present. GOD stands for Generate, Order and Deliverance, nothing more and nothing less. We are all spiritual beings in this Universe -our souls and spirits are permanent and the rest are impermanent.

    The need to be kind, not to be righteous is the creed to humble the ego…Radical changes and feelings of upliftment occurs when you completely abandon your ego.

    Hanggang sa muli.

  21. maricar l. lopez says:

    Happy birthday, my friend!!!!

    -maricar

  22. N says:

    so…are egoes important? or we can go without them? how do you handle your ego?

    so is God an insecure God that we need to keep on worshipping Him? Maybe God is a female who needs constant reassurance, huh? :)

  23. lilintian says:

    hello po.. i haven’t visited your blog since you moved to sydney. anyway, it’s good to know you’re back home. weebee..:)

    I don’t believe in religions. it’s always about spirituality for me. am
    trying to live up to the wiccan rede.

    “An Ye Harm None, Do as Ye Will”.

    Blessed Be.

  24. vishwa says:

    Jim….interesting thoughts on Ego and its workings. Couldn’t agree more.
    Yeah, ‘New earth’ is a fantastic work. Currently am going over it the second time.

  25. juaninthecity says:

    “do you believe we are fundamentally judgmental? fundamentally evil?” — ALANIS MORISSETTE

    some parts of this post sound temporarily unrealistic. they talk about what is “now” or when you lose your self. they talk about short-term happiness. they are not the realities of life. the question is, what happens next when you go back to the ‘real world?’ all the nos that you have just mentioned will marked ‘X.’

    and i just want to know since when did you stop asking? everyone asks for something of course. you may not ask something for yourself but you do ask something for members of your family. do you know that god has a roomful of gifts in heaven? there’s something for everyone. as a matter of fact, every gift has a name tag. but god can’t send them to earth in just one moment. some gifts are discarded because the owner stopped asking for it.

  26. Jim says:

    The only respite from unhappiness is being in the present. Problems are caused by living in the past or projecting into the future. It’s a refusal to be anywhere except where one is, as if the ideal is in some other time or place except where we are. As Eckart puts it, what is wrong with NOW? If you do find anything wrong, it is caused by contamination from past or future. If you can appreciate now as a new moment altogether, it is liberating.

    All of us have an ego and need it to function. It becomes crazy when we begin to solely identify ourselves with the pain it carries, the positions it takes, the jdgments that it calls and the ever needy attitude it fosters. We are bigger than that. The real thing in us is that which does not change. Attitudes, likes, dislikes, views, etc. all change.

    The point is, when we ‘lose ourselves’, we actually get a glimpse of who we are in the timeless now. No need to ask. It is already given.

  27. Teena says:

    hi, Tito Jim!

    wow, you’re so all over the place. i caught your ANC guesting yesterday and read about your jamming with PDA students on the show’s Web site. a few minutes ago i came across a Letter to the Editor posted on inq7.net titled “Paredes’ ‘Australian vacation’ one and the same banana.” and the music everywhere, it seems, is APO music.

    you’re not running for President, are you? :)

    of course, we’re not even sure there will be elections next year. but i’m positive you can give those wannabes a run for their German bank-stored millions of dollars. :)

    all right, i know politics is out of the question.

    you’re doing humanity a greater favor being who you are.

    i’m still busy at work but i wish i could see you one of these days to give you a hug. thanks for inspiring us Pinoys. Belated Happy birthday! indeed, may your tribe multiply and redeem generations.

    Nap is also sending his regards.

  28. Jim says:

    teena–HI!! always nice to hear from you. nagkataon lang that i’m “all over the place”. ha ha. Big hugs to you and Nap too.

  29. TradPolHater says:

    I think teena was referring to this:
    ———————————–

    Paredes’ ‘Australian vacation’ one and the same banana

    Inquirer
    Last updated 01:30am (Mla time) 09/02/2006

    Published on Page A14 of the September 2, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

    YOUR news item on APO Hiking Society’s Jim Paredes immigrating to Australia, liking the life there and telling fellow Filipinos to follow their dreams (Inquirer, 8/20/06) spoiled my weekend.

    Not that I know the guy personally, but I’ve always (up until now) held him in high esteem as one of the true nationalists of our time, someone to look up to and maybe, even to emulate.

    I know for sure that he inspired many people of my generation (now in their golden years) and younger generations to love and work for the betterment of this country. Not very many people as financially stable as Paredes care enough for this country to step out of their comfort zones and make a mark (in this case as a “developmental” musician). Paredes did — or so I thought.

    As I understand it, Paredes scored the Inquirer for reporting that he “had given up on the Philippines” when all he said was that he was “sick of all the politics.” In my book, that’s one and the same banana. I’m almost sure many agree with me. Sad.

    I’ve been abroad many times; and it has always broken my heart to meet talented and mentally gifted Filipinos who have opted to stay away from the Philippines and contribute their skills to other (usually developed) nations’ further enrichment. The damage they have wrought to our country by living and working abroad cannot ever be quantified; and the most depressing thing about it is that their number swells by the day. Add Paredes to that list and those he has encouraged to follow suit.

    I was supposed to go to Megamall for a concert featuring young bands paying tribute to the Apo Hiking Society. But that was before I found out that one of them had taken a long hike to that proverbial greener pasture.

    “Pakikinggan ko na lang ang mga patak ng ulan at sasabayan ko ng luha ng ‘Inang Bayan.’”

    DORIS S. NUVAL, Knowledge Channel, 5/F Benpres Building, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City

  30. Sammy says:

    I have read the first book that eckheart released “The Power of Now”. is books are really inspiring. They can really make you become aware of what you are doing, and what you are at the moment. For me self consciousness is one thing that can drive the ego away. Once you are this, you become humble enough to distinguish what your ego is making you do and what you are really sincere about doing. I recommend that you also read “Conversations with God” by Neal Donald Walsh. God bless!

  31. Jim says:

    Sammy–Conversations With God (CWG) is one of my all-time great reads. I can say that after reading that, I took an entirely new view on life and God. It’s a wonderful book. I’ve also read Power of Now and it is a lifep-changing book as well. If you are interested in joining book clubs of the sort, let me know. I know groups of people who meet to discuss such books.

    Jim

  32. Lazarus says:

    It’s the evil genius in each of us that dirtied politics and religion (and many other things). Though, both are established for the common good.

    Dropped by and enjoyed reading your entries.

  33. Endymion W. Halo says:

    In this world but not of it…
    We always need to begin with absolutes. And it is the one absolute exercise to search for the absolutely true. It burdens the genius in all of us. We seek it because that is all there is–truth and untruths or rather non-truths.
    And where there is no truth there is your twisted politics and religion, false idealogies that breed cruelty, death, atheism and madness.

  34. jonjon barros says:

    MABUHAY KA KAPATID NA JIM!

  35. BW says:

    I didn’t realize Bishop Fulton Sheen can be THAT funny.

  36. Ted says:

    If you can find the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, I would say you read it cause it binds all religion or sectarianism together.

  37. neelig says:

    THANK YOU FOR THE GOOD MUSIC HEADMASTER… MAYBE ONE DAY I CAN CREATE GOOD ONE TOO. I’VE BEEN WATCHING PDA & I REALIZE HOW GOOD FATHER, FRIEND AND MENTOR YOU CAN BE. YOUR SO FULL OF LOVE FOR THE STUDENTS.(I ESPECIALLY LIKE MICH) GOD BLESS HEADMASTER AND MAYBE SOMEDAY I CAN MEET YOU TOO…

  38. neelig says:

    headmaster
    i read your reaction for sammy and you’ve mention that if she is interested in joining book clubs let you know…well, im a sort of a book wannabe but don’t know niche of other who like to read books as well..i would to express my intention to be one of the member of book club you can recommend.. im fond of reading books of og mandino, paulo coelho…also books of sparks and albom and just anything inspirational, philosophical, true story of some sort…

    thanks so much.

  39. kado vriend says:

    I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thank you



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