Managing the ego
The ego is something that gets a lot of bad press, but is having a ego a bad thing? We often think of ego as being the characteristic of certain types of people. The kind who have a problem with hubris and attitude. Often seen in artistic types, but the example basically covers many walks of life. Even in the martial arts community. People with an ego problem might not know how others seem them and even if they did, they probably don't care. We all have met or know people like this. In martial arts culture, ego is frowned upon, but how often is this ignored? More often that you'd think.
There is nothing wrong with having an ego. However, people often get carried away with their success. They boast about their achievements and disrespect others. The problem made worse by others who encourage this negative behaviour. Letting the ego go out of control can be destructive. I'm not saying we should do away with the ego, because for most of us, we can't. But why not? Dealing with the ego requires a fair amount of discipline and awareness. The key is to be mindful of your behaviour. Traditional martial arts school have their codes of conduct, which has been passed down through generations. Students have been expelled for poor behaviour. If you have been initiated into the lineage by undergoing the Bai Shi ceremony*, then you are expected to uphold the traditions of the school and not to let the name of your school fall into disrepute.
One's greatness is down to not just their talents, but also the drive to succeed. That's where the ego comes in. If you take that quality away from somebody, then what make somebody who they are may be lost. Where there is a pro, there is a con.
Daoism and Buddhism both teach us to live in harmony. Yes, the ego can be a negative thing, yes and we can't deny that. The thing to do with the ego is to harness it. Use that energy to do what you do best. Be nice, because nobody likes people who are fake or obnoxious.
We all started somewhere and we all have different gifts. But no matter where you are, you should never forget your roots. We all have our own direction in where you're taking our art, that's our Tai Chi Journey. This all comes down to personal cultivation and your training doesn't lie. Treat people well and with respect. As they say, be nice to people on the way up, because you'll meet them on the way down. Be mindful of your behaviour, because you can't run from Karma.
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* Bai Shi is a traditional ceremony where you offer incense and bow to the founder of the school and agree to the code of conduct. This is like the Ten Commandments in the Bible. If you've not undergone this ceremony, then you're not an inside the door student.
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