Francois Fenelon, a French Catholic theologian who lived in the seventeenth century said, "It is mere self-love to be inconsolable at seeing one’s own imperfections.” Aldous Huxley commented on that statement three centuries later with, "Self-reproach is painful; but the very pain is a reassuring proof that the self is still intact; so long as attention is fixed on the delinquent ego, it cannot be fixed upon God and the ego (which lives upon attention and dies only when that sustenance is withheld) cannot be dissolved in the divine Light.”
What irony! And how perfectly reasonable, and obvious once we see it, that the very self-judgment and self-criticism we were encouraged to adopt in childhood, needed to adopt in order to survive the judgment of powerful "others,” is the very process now fueling the egocentric karmic conditioning that maintains our suffering! It’s really quite a perfect system of suffering. We’re taught to feel bad about various thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. We are convinced that feeling bad will somehow help us to be better. We’re afraid to let go of feeling bad because that’s the only thing keeping us from being worse! But, in fact, feeling bad keeps us identified with—and working hard to maintain—the very system that is the only source of our suffering.
"… and the ego, which lives upon attention and dies only when that sustenance is withheld cannot be dissolved in the divine Light” No wonder turning the attention away from ego and to HERE/NOW is so difficult. The stakes are truly life and death—for ego.