You are walking, the sun is there, and a shadow is falling. Somebody walks upon your shadow – do you fight with him? You know it is a shadow, he has not walked on you. Somebody walks on your ego – don’t fight. He has not walked on you. Somebody insults you: it hurts because you get identified with the shadow – otherwise there is nothing. Somebody walks on your shadow; the hurt is imaginary and is a consequence of getting oneself identified with the shadow.
“I have developed a bad case of seeker’s shadow.”
You are condemning it. You are creating the problem and anxiety for yourself. Accept it! It is part of a natural flow. But don’t put the shadow ahead of you. Don’t become a shadow of the shadow – that’s all. Remain yourself.
“It constantly tries to congratulate me….”
Accept its congratulation! And give a heartfelt thank-you to it.
“You hammer me and it falls apart….”
I don’t hammer the ego, I never hammer the ego – I simply hammer the identification. I am not so foolish as to hammer your ego; that would be hammering your shadow. I simply hammer the bridge that you have created between the existential and the non-existential, between the essential and the non-essential, between the real and the unreal, between the fact and the fiction – between you and the shadow. I hammer only that bridge. And, of course, it falls apart, because it is just an idea. It has no reality: just an idea that “this is me.”
If you want to do anything about the ego, the only thing that I feel can be helpful is to laugh at it. It is ridiculous to get identified with the shadow – simply ridiculous. But don’t get serious. Accept it and you will be delivered from it.
I have heard:
It is said that a French prince visited a jail. In honor of the royal guest, the prison warden offered to release any prisoner the prince might designate. To pick out that prisoner, the prince began interviewing each of the men privately, asking, “Why are you here?”
“I’m innocent, my lord!” cried one. “I’ve been framed!” pleaded another. Perjury, prejudice, injustice and oppression were reasons given by the convicts for their being in prison.
Only one man told a different story. “Your highness,” he replied, “I deserve to be here and I have no complaint. In my time I have been a wicked, desperate murderer. It is a great mercy, both to society and to myself, that I am here.”
“You wicked wretch!” the prince replied. “What a pity you should be confined among so many honest citizens. You yourself admit that you are evil enough to corrupt them all. I can’t allow you to remain in their company another day. Guard! This is the man I wish released.”
Once you accept the reality, you are relieved, released; the prison exists no more. So don’t try to be humble. Just know that ego arises. What can you do? You are not creating it.