Parshat Bo: Exodus 10:28-29 – “Pharaoh said to him, "Go away from me! Beware! You shall no longer see my face, for on the day that you see my face, you shall die: [Thereupon,] Moses said, "You have spoken correctly; I shall no longer see your face."
We carry many Pharaohs inside – many reactive habits that create pain for ourselves and for the people around us. When we face one of our inner Pharaohs, we often lock into an struggle between a part of ourselves we perceive as good and a part that we perceive as bad. If we try to examine the habit carefully, it often responds with storms of protest: “ Don’t look at me like that! I have to be this way. There is no other way to act. You will die if you don’t have me around to protect you.” Although this inner Pharaoh sounds at first like an imperious ruler, when we listen more closely we can hear it is really more like a tantruming three-year old. Instead of responding by getting up in the face of the habit, we can instead take it into our lap, stroke its head, and hold it with compassion for the circumstances that caused that Pharaoh to arise. Amazingly, when we take this approach, the habit’s hold over us subsides. And in that moment, the self-conception that contained a good part and a bad part, a Moses and a Pharaoh, dies as well. In its place grows a more unified, liberated and wholesome way of living with ourselves and acting in the world.
May we treat our inner strivings and restrictions with compassion and be blessed to witness the melting away of our limiting sense of self and may that compassionate work of our hands, heart and mind be established in the world.
Thank you to Brian Arnell of Awakened Heart Project for pointing out the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh concerning how to work with habit energy. See for example: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Thich_Nhat_Hanh_Transforming_Negative_Habit_Energies.htm <http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Thich_Nhat_Hanh_Transforming_Negative_Habit_Energies.htm>