I have been bingeing the TV series The Exorcist recently, and in the second season, I suddenly realized that there was a lot going on regarding the nature of ego in the younger priest, Father Thomas. At the end of season 1, he had succeeded in doing something that had previously been though impossible. Because of this, he decided that he had been Chosen™ by God in order to perform this miracle.
In the first half of season 2, Tomas gets cocky and mouthy to his mentor ( defrocked Father Marcus, who had been an exorcist for many years) and, at one point, basically, “You hate it that God chose me, not you!” Talk about giant ego right there. Since I’m Buddhist, this duality really stuck out to me and made me do some thinking.
It seems to me that it is human nature to want to be unique, remarkable, special in one way or another. We drive our kids to make the grade, make the team, be the team captain, etc. As adults, we want to be known as the go-to person on one subject or another. We jockey for the promotion or the raise and we get upset and sullen if we don’t get the recognition that we think that we deserve. Therein lies the problem: Most people are not unique, remarkable, or particularly special in any significant way. We’re mostly average and run of the mill.
That’s not to say that we are not special to our friends and families, or that we have particular talents, but people generally fall within a relatively narrow spectrum of difference. There are cases where a certain person exhibits some particularly advanced skill, but the Mozart-like virtuoso is rare indeed. Most of the time, the remarkable people have nothing but drive and determination that separates them from the proverbial herd.
Back to the TV show: When Father Tomas had it out with Father Marcus, it struck me that Tomas was suffering with an intense bout of ego and separation from his partner and their work. What Marcus didn’t understand is that what he thought of as being Chosen™ was nothing more than being in the right place at the right time, with the right tools. In other words, he lucked out and didn’t recognize it.
This is important, because it also helped me realize that *I* am still wanting to be a unique and special snowflake, and get disappointed (dukkha) because of my attachment to that desire.
Obviously, I have some stuff to work on still.