"Welcome back, Dharma," I said, as he hopped onto my pad with a thud. "I'm so happy to see you. Please come in and sit yourself down. Did you enjoy your retreat?" Dharma took off his cloak and hung it up. As he sat down, he flashed a big smile. I knew he could smell the aromas of all his favorite foods that I'd prepared for our breakfast feast. "Yes Irwin," Dharma replied, "I had a fine experience at my retreat. I learned a great deal that I will share with you over the next few weeks. And may I thank you for this wonderful meal. I must admit that I've missed your good cooking." He poured our tea as I served the food. It wasn't long after, that he began my lesson. "Tadpole, a frog's crown is no cure for his headache. What do you think this means, my boy?" I thought a bit and then responded. "A crown is heavy so if you're royalty, don't wear it when you have a headache because it will make it worse?" Dharma chuckled and explained to me that the crown was a figure of speech. "Irwin, you don't have to be royalty to wear a crown. In this context, crown means a false sense of importance. But in one way my boy, you are correct. The weight of a crown can make your headache worse. How many times have you come across someone with an inflated ego who believes him or herself to better than everyone else? Many frogs, and humans too, I suspect, wear these false crowns of entitlement. But these crowns of theirs don't make them happier or take away their problems...their headaches." It's true. I do know quite a few frogs and a human or two, who believed that they are entitled. They behave very badly because of their over-inflated sense of self. As we continued to dine, I listened intently as Dharma went on to explain the pitfalls of self-entitlement and the weightiness of wearing a crown.
Self-importance can be a painful trap. It can be a prison where we tell ourselves that the world revolves around us; that we are the center of the universe. We are owed....everything because of our greatness. Lord Byron's famous fictional character said it best, "Self-importance is man’s greatest enemy. What weakens him is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of his fellow men. Self-importance requires that one spend most of one’s life offended by something or someone.” In fact, those who are filled with self-entitlement are often the most fragile, vulnerable, fearful, and sad. They use their "crown" to mask how they truly feel about them themselves and their place in the world. But Dharma warned me not to get confused. Self-importance is not the same thing as having self-esteem. In fact, self-importance can be a big barrier to having healthy self-esteem. Having self-esteem assures that you have the ability to deal with whatever occurs in your life. You handle your "headaches" with competence and with grace. Self-importance, on the other flipper or hand, falsely leads you to believe that whatever you want or need is owed to you because of who or what you are. But make no mistake about it, self-importance is a path to suffering. Holding a self-entitlement belief means that we put up a wall to keep out the pain and while it might insulate us from some pain, it also prevents love and a real sense of belonging from coming in. Self-importance leads to loneliness, separation and, ultimately, suffering...suffering that we ourselves created. This suffering can make us feel lonely in a room filled with kind and interesting "others." It can make us feel alone even when we are face-to-face with a friend who truly cares. Self-importance can be self-destructive. It doesn't feel very good wearing a crown and being alone in an ivory tower. The good news is, we learn to be different. Healing begins when we let light in.
Letting the light in begins with removing our blinders. When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do. Frogs are frogs and people are people. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors and with a myriad of personalities. Allowing ourselves to see our sameness rather than our differences, makes it easier to accept that we are not better than but, really, the same as everyone else. Once we can honestly accept this fact, the crown suddenly seems less important and it begins to feel terribly heavy. Rather than curing our personal headaches, we see that it was making the headache worse. We are not the center of the universe. No one is...even those who do wear authentic crowns. None of us are special because, in reality, we are all special with our own unique gifts and talents. That is the beauty of humanity. If you want to live life to the fullest and experience the joys and heartaches that come with it, take off the crown and take your place in the real world. You might be surprised to find that the "air up there" isn't as sweet or as rare as you once thought it was.
This was a super lesson and I was kind of sad to see it end. But the time came for Dharma to leave. He finished his tea then grabbed his cloak. As he hopped away, I heard him say, "It's good to be back, Irwin." Indeed, it was good to have him back. And I must admit that sometimes I do feel a bit entitled but spending this time with Dharma has convinced me that I'd rather be among friends than alone with just myself and my ego for company. I wonder if Craigslist has a category for used crowns?
Please stop back by tomorrow when we'll have a look at some unusual real estate. Until then, I wish you all