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學習馴服名叫「自我」的狗

LEARNING TO TAME THE DOG NAMED ‘EGO’

(2021/07/19)

有一個故事是關於歌劇作曲家朱塞佩.威爾第在義大利米蘭斯卡拉大劇院舉行的鋼琴獨奏會的一晚。當他演奏完節目單裡最後一曲後,崇拜的觀眾要求他「再來一首」。陶醉在掌聲中,威爾第選擇演奏一首響亮的、花俏的作品,他知道這會讓觀眾高興,儘管從藝術的角度來看,這不是什麼好的音樂。
 

當威爾第彈完安可曲之後,人們一致站起來,給了他另一段轟動的掌聲。他在掌聲中沾沾自喜,直到瞥見坐在劇院包廂上的終身導師。導師很清楚地知道威爾第做了什麼,他既沒有為他驕傲地站立,也沒有鼓掌。看到導師一臉因極度失望而愁眉苦臉表情,彷彿在說:「威爾第、威爾第,你怎麼會做出這樣的事?  

我已故的朋友羅伯特·D·福斯特(Robert D. Foster)講述這個故事時,他把它稱為「威爾第病毒」一種對控制的需求和期待獲得認同的渴望。德國哲學家弗里德里希·尼采 (Friedrich Nietzsche)這樣描述:「每當我往上爬時,有一隻名叫自我(Ego)的狗都會跟著我。當受到稱讚時,牠就自我膨脹。牠渴望權力和成功,永遠不會滿足於從其中獲得更多。」  

商界和專業領域也滿足這樣的需求,並不斷傳遞信息如:我們唯有取得成功,才能夠證明自己夠好。雖然這是很常見的狀況,但這種對於別人讚賞的需求,可能是會毒害我們。和威爾第的例子一樣,它可能會導致我們妥協,為了得到想要的回應去做不是最好或對的事。聖經毫不掩飾誠實描述了人類這樣的景況,也給了我們許多這方面的例子。

針對這個觀點,耶穌基督經常與宗教領袖對抗,指出他們假裝自己所無法做到的。馬太福音 23章27-28節敘述了一段經典的例子:「你們這假冒為善的文士和法利賽人有禍了!因為你們好像粉飾的墳墓,外面好看,裏面卻裝滿了死人的骨頭和一切的污穢。你們也是如此,在人前,外面顯出公義來,裏面卻裝滿了假善和不法的事。」  

重要的是內在,而不是外表。在為以色列選拔新王時,上帝不是在尋找贏得「外貌測試」,而是贏在「內心測試」的。祂選擇了大衛,後來被稱為「合神心意的人」。「…..耶和華不像人看人:人是看外貌;耶和華是看內心。」(撒母耳記上16章7節)  

稱讚是對品格的考驗。當我們受到表揚時,我們如何回應?我們是沉浸在其中並尋求更多,還是以謙卑的感恩之情回應?鼎為煉銀,爐為煉金,人的稱讚也試煉人。」(箴言 27章21節)  

把別人放在首位會減少對掌聲的需要。對稱讚的無情渴望會讓我們專注在自己身上。然而,當我們專注在別人身上時,「自我」就不會那麼樣的被關注了。在一個表現出「一切都是我!」的世界裡,我們需要有意識的決定要把注意力放在哪裡。凡事不可結黨,不可貪圖虛浮的榮耀;只要存心謙卑,各人看別人比自己強。各人不要單顧自己的事,也要顧別人的事。」(腓立比書 2章3-4節)

© 2021. Robert J. Tamasy 是企業巔峰: 給今日職場從箴言而來永恆的智慧 一書的作者。也與導師之的作者David A. Stoddard 合著Tufting Legacies。編輯多本著作包括Mike Landry. Bob的書: 透過苦難成長。Mike Landry. Bob的網站為www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com,

備註:如果你手上有聖經,想閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考:

箴言 11章2節
11:2 驕傲來,羞恥也來;謙遜人卻有智慧。
箴言16章2、18節
16:2 人一切所行的,在自己眼中看為清潔;惟有耶和華衡量人心。
16:18 驕傲在敗壞以先;狂心在跌倒之前。
箴言17章3節
17:3 鼎為煉銀,爐為煉金;惟有耶和華熬煉人心。
箴言18章12節
18:12 敗壞之先,人心驕傲;尊榮以前,必有謙卑。
箴言22章4節
22:4 敬畏耶和華心存謙卑,就得富有、尊榮、生命為賞賜。
箴言25章6-7節
25:6 不要在王面前妄自尊大;不要在大人的位上站立。
25:7 寧可有人說:請你上來,強如在你覲見的王子面前叫你退下。
箴言27章2節
27:2 要別人誇獎你,不可用口自誇;等外人稱讚你,不可用嘴自稱。
箴言29章23節
29:23 人的高傲必使他卑下;心裏謙遜的,必得尊榮。
約翰福音 12章42-43節
12:42 雖然如此,官長中卻有好些信他的,只因法利賽人的緣故,就不承認,恐怕被趕出會堂。
12:43 這是因他們愛人的榮耀過於愛 神的榮耀。  

反省與討論問題
第一、你聽過作曲家朱塞佩.威爾第的這個故事嗎?你認為為什麼我們大多數人對表揚和認同的渴望(有時甚至是需求)如此強烈?
第二、從某種意義上說,威爾第認知到儘管有很多人鼓掌,但對他來說真正重要的只是眾多觀眾裡其中一位的認可。我們如何把這個故事和我們在屬靈層面上的行為和動機連結起來?我們是否能滿足於只有「那一位」觀眾的接納,那就是我們所信仰和服事的上帝?
第三、你能想出一些例子關於有些人竭盡可能完善外表,但他們的內在卻非常不一樣?是不是有時候你自己也可能會這樣做,用虛假的外表來掩蓋內心的真實情況?請解釋你的答案。
第四、如何培養「把別人放在自己之先」的態度?這容易嗎?請解釋你的答案。


 

MONDAY MANNA
July 19, 2021

LEARNING TO TAME THE DOG NAMED ‘EGO’
By Robert J. Tamasy

 

The story is told about a night when operatic composer Giuseppe Verdi performed a piano recital at La Scala in Milan, Italy. As he finished his final piece on the program, the adoring audience demanded an encore. Reveling in the applause, Verdi chose to perform a loud, frilly composition he knew would delight the audience even though, in an artistic sense, it was not good music.

When Verdi had completed the additional piece, the crowd stood as one, giving him another resounding response. He delighted in the applause until he glimpsed his lifelong mentor seated in the balcony. The mentor knew exactly what Verdi had done; he neither stood with the crown nor applauded. Verdi saw an agonized expression on his mentor’s face of deep disappointment, as if to say, “Verdi, Verdi, how could you do that?”

When he told this story, my late friend Robert D. Foster called this the “Verdi virus,” a need for control and to receive approval. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche described it this way: “Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog named Ego. The ego swells when it is showered with praise. It craves power and success. And it is never satisfied with how much of these things it gets.”

The business and professional world feeds this desire, with its continual message that we are only as good as our latest successes. Even though it is so common, this need for the acclaim of others can be toxic. As with Verdi, it might cause us to compromise, to do things we know will generate the desired response, even if they are not the best things – or the right things – to do. The Bible, which describes the human condition with unvarnished honesty, gives many examples of this.

Jesus Christ spoke about this, often confronting the religious leaders for pretending to be what they were not. One classic example is recounted in Matthew 23:27-28, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

It is what is inside, not outside, that matters. In selecting a new king for Israel, God was not seeking someone who passed the “look test,” but someone who passed the “heart test.” He chose David, a man later called “a man after God’s own heart.” “…The Lord does not look at things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Praise serves as a test of character. How do we respond when we receive praise? Do we soak ourselves in it and seek for more, or do we respond in humble gratitude? “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives” (Proverbs 27:21).

Putting others first reduces the need for praise. The relentless desire for praise puts our focus on ourselves. When we focus on others, however, our ego requires less attention. In a world that says, “It is all about me!”, it requires a conscious decision to redirect our thinking. “Do nothing from empty ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4)

© 2021. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart, coauthored with Ken Johnson; and The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.
CBMC INTERNATIONAL:  Jim Firnstahl, President
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Reflection/Discussion Questions
 

1.Had you heard this story about composer Giuseppe Verdi before? Why do you think the desire – even the demand – for praise and approval is so strong in most of us?


2.In a sense, Verdi recognized that despite the applause of many, what truly mattered for him was the approval of the audience of one. How can we relate this to our actions and motives on a spiritual level – are we content to go about our lives and work receiving only the acceptance of an audience of One, the God we believe in and serve?


3.Can you think of examples of individuals who seem to have perfected the art of looking good on the outside, even though what is inside – their hearts – is very different? What about times when you might have done that yourself, presented a false outward appearance to conceal what was really going on inside? Explain your answers.

 
4.How can we cultivate an attitude of putting other people first, ahead of our own interests? Does this come easily? Why or why not?             




NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 11:2, 16:2,18, 17:3, 18:12, 22:4, 25:6-7, 27:2, 29:23; John 12:42-43