Human beings are the most complex creatures. We are unlike animals. They are not complex. For example, dogs or cats are not complex. They are quite easygoing. They want to sleep. They want to eat. They want to be petted, and they want to love. That’s pretty much it. They don’t have a conflict between their higher self and their lower self. They don’t have this thing called a “higher self” versus a “lower self.” As human beings we have a conflict thinking that there is a lower self with the small ego and a higher self that we are going to eventually realize and be in union with. So we have a fundamental conflict between our heart and our mind. Our mind judges and criticizes things. Our mind wants to hold on to the problems. Our mind wants to divide. Our heart wants to unite, forgive, love, and surrender. Almost every human being has this wonderful heart that has a desire for peace. And then we also have this very complicated mind that wants to divide and create conflict. It is, actually, addicted to misery and pain. True transcendence is a universal experience that everybody can have access to regardless of their identity as spiritual or secular. True transcendence is going away from being self-centered and being other-centered. We don’t need any religious identity to experience it. All that is required is that we have a heart. Our old reality is that there is “me,” who is the center of the universe. This “me” is the most important individual in human history and in the entire galaxy. Isn’t this quite a wild delusion? This “me” is the most important person. “Me’s” suffering is somehow greater than anyone else’s suffering. “Me’s” hunger is bigger than everybody else’s hunger. “Me’s” problems are bigger than anyone else’s, and somehow “me’s” happiness is more important than anybody else’s happiness. This sense of being the center of the universe and being attached to that is so painful, so contracting. It’s like a little invisible prison that we have created. It’s like a form of solitary confinement. There is no joy, there is no bliss, there is no freedom in that imaginary entity that we are so attached to. The stronger our attachment to this “me,” the stronger the pain and suffering we experience.
Excerpt from Choosing Compassion by Anam Thubten