When you are born with a lot of talent and life circumstances are such that you can enhance that talent through training, and you are lucky enough to get recognized by those who can put you forth into the world with that talent; you can end up with a career, sometimes a very big career. Things being what they are in our society, people will gravitate towards you as soon as you start to become successful. They can foster even more success and eventually a talented person can end up with what we call “celebrity status” and become a public figure.
There are all sorts of problems with a situation like this and it’s rare that it does not deeply touch the artist in some profound and lasting way. When multiple people from various worlds tell you on an almost continuous basis that you are a genius, a life changer, someone who is “special” and “different”, it must be hard not to finally start to believe that this is indeed true. You can accidentally fall in love with yourself, or what you perceive to be your self, and build your own sense of importance, sometimes to the detriment of all those around you who love the real you.
A true artist has some amount of protection if he or she really delves deeply into the work they are creating, for it is there that they must confront the depth of their being and ask difficult questions that have no pre-ordained answers. The questions can only be resolved through brutal honesty, thoughtful and extended self-examination and confrontation of habitual patterns, both conscious and unidentifiable. Still, without diligence, delusion is possible and even artists who truly seek to be free of any limiting encumbrance can be fooled by their own defenses and end up falling in love with their own false self-image. This can lead to deep, dark despair and profound self-doubt.
The ego is interested in itself and its own ideas, its own needs and its own emotions. It survives by finding ways to justify its own existence and can become a shadow self (“I am nothing, I am always a jerk”) just as much as it can be “I am the greatest”. Either way, its hold is great and its damage is even greater.
The one and only remedy to a raging ego is service. True service liberates the individual from the bondage of the small self. It is in work or task that serves the highest and greatest good that freedom is available. It is connected to producing something of lasting value that leaves the world a better place than it would be had it not been created. Truly generous work, done for the sake of the work and for no other reason, is ego-free and not bound by any time frame nor monetary consideration. It is not at the mercy of momentary obstacles nor does it shirk from determination. It does not drain but supplies energy. It does not harm but heals. It cannot be limited even if it is confined to small endeavors.
In order to serve the only requisite is to desire to be of service. Understanding what needs to be done and doing it is enough. The job at hand is the job that needs to be executed, without complaint and without acknowledgement. Service, carried out in this manner, creates joy and in this perfect expression of love and life, the ego shrivels and goes into hiding.
If you are famous and you want to help, take a good long look at what those who are not in your inner circle tell you and remember that you are just like everyone else. No worse but surely no better. Wash the dishes, sweep the floor, take out the garbage, listen to the birds, walk on the beach. Don’t let your huge ego eat your soul.