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Hey! Leggo My Ego!

Let’s talk about Ego. ID-100160588

I’ve been studying the Spiritual and New Age movements for some time now. One term that gets thrown around and misused more than “love” is “ego”. And in almost every one of these fly-by-the-seat self-help religions Ego is bad. Very, very bad. Nobody should have or “give in to” the Ego and having it is seen as an impediment to Ascension, Enlightenment or Awakening or whatever your term for achieving spiritual openness. I see the word used all the time in arguments as admonishments or to rebuke someone who is being challenging. All in all, a lot of negative energy is attached to the Ego. Even in popular culture, the Ego suffers. Egotism. Egotistical. Any way you slice it, Ego is bad.  So I began to wonder, what makes the Ego so bad?

First, we have to understand what Ego is. The simple definition is “the opinion that you have about yourself”; and in psychology it is “a part of the mind that senses and adapts to the real world”.  That doesn’t seem too terrible…maybe an in-depth definition would shed light on the Ego’s insidiousness.

1.  the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world

2 a :  egotism which is  the feeling or belief that you are better, more important, more talented, etc., than other people. 2 b :  self-esteem

3:  the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that serves as the organized conscious mediator between the person and reality especially by functioning both in the perception of and adaptation to reality — compare idsuperego (cited from mirriam-webster.com)

From the above definitions it is easy to see there is a difference between the Ego and being “egotistical”. Let’s explore these definitions more.

The opinion you have about yourself:

Also known as your self-esteem and self-worth. Now these are things that the new spiritual movements preach a lot about. Better self-esteem through positive thinking.  The positive power of manifesting self-worth. They are touted as good things, not bad. Oddly enough, they are directly tied to peoples’ Egos as per the definition. Now an uncomfortable paradox is manifested. Ego=bad. Self esteem=good. Ego=Self Esteem thus Bad=Good. The whole argument falls apart when it is broken down to its most basic components. If Ego is bad, then so is self-esteem and I don’t need to go into the negative downward spirals that come with self-esteem issues. Almost everyone has had experience and struggles with lack of self-esteem at least once in their lives. For some, lack of self-esteem is an ongoing battle. Some Ego hounds may tell you that your Ego is responsible for these thoughts. They will say that the Ego is actually responsible for reducing your self-esteem.  It’s the devil on your shoulder, so to speak. But that simply isn’t true. Your Ego mediates thoughts, experiences and struggles, filtering them back up to your higher self. Which brings us to the psychological definition of Ego.

The part of the mind that senses and adapts to the real world:

In psychology, the Ego is a Freudian term related to the Id and the Superego. The Id is your base animalistic instincts and the Superego is your civilized moral self. The Ego is the mediator between the two. It processes what’s going on in the world around you and mediates those findings between the Id and the Superego. Basically, it keeps them under control and impedes them from running rampant. Of course this is in a perfect setting. In reality the Ego often gives in to the Id or the Superego (and according to Freudians, more often the Id) which causes conflict between the self and the real world. Welcome to the Human Experience.

So the Ego isn’t the real culprit. The Id and the Superego are responsible for the negative influence on the self. The Id, or the base survival instinct, is most easily personified in the moments of unchecked and irrational lashing out people are prone to (think of the last time you had a road rage incident). And the Superego, or our rational and logical selves, is responsible for all of a person’s “thinking problems” (i.e. neuroses, narcissism, etc). The Superego is also home to dysfunctions like egotism. All the Ego does is process the experiences. It is the higher self’s filter in the physical world.

Then what IS the Ego? Fundamentally, the Ego is our sense of identity. Ego is what makes a person who they are. It’s what answers you when you look in the mirror and ask “who am I?” It is the mechanism that allows you to exist in and experience the world and universe around you. The Ego is the individual. It is, however, an imperfect mechanism just like everything else in this beautiful creation called The Universe.

So then why would a person think that something as simple and profound as your very identity would be a bad thing? The opponents of Ego would say, “Because the Ego makes you vain and greedy and self-serving, it distracts you and on and on ad infimum. O.K. So let’s look at that as logically as possible. The Ego is your identity, as we discovered above. Your Ego is responsible for everything wrong with your spiritual and personal development. Thus, your identity is ultimately responsible…and you are your identity. See where this is going? “Ah ha!”, exclaim the Ego detractors, “See? Ego IS bad for you. You must therefore let go of your Ego and think positive happy thoughts to correct the bad and replace it with good.” They don’t call it “prosperity therapy” but they should. After the glorious and paramount task of freeing oneself from their debasing Ego, they will have truly overcome and ascended into what amounts to a perfect state of self-realization and achieving perfect love and joy and oneness forever and ever. Again, it’s not called prosperity therapy no matter how much they seem to fit together.

And the ultimate goal of all this? The grand finale? A person separates from their identity and “returns to the Source” or God or the Creator or whichever name is drummed up by whoever is coining terms at the time. Here the whole Ego attacking/ Personal Enlightenment theology gets a little vague and highly dependent on personal speculation. Or you can go with the Buddhist/ atheist option and return to Nothingness.

I say forget all of that. Creation serves a purpose. A very specific purpose. Thus, identity serves a purpose. EGO serves a purpose. And ultimately, each and every object in creation is serving a purpose. What that purpose is, is discussion for a later talk. However, at the core of all of Creation’s purpose is to exist. Existence exists to exist.

We are all part of God and God wants us to be; he wants us to exist as individuals. He gave us freewill and a purpose then programmed us into the universe. Part of that experience is ultimately individual consciousness—identity. And your Ego is your identity. This is not a bad thing. It’s an imperfect thing. You can’t overcome it. You ARE it. It’s not “fake” or bad or meant to hinder your spiritual advancement. It. Is. YOU. And again, THIS IS NOT A BAD THING.

God doesn’t want you NOT to be you. He is part of you. He is right there with you every step of the way, experiencing life alongside you. Waiting for you to accept His love so that true transformation can occur.

Now the general consensus is conscious beings have forgotten this critical piece of information hence the human condition and shackling of us to the material world. Our Egos did not do this to us. This happened before there was an “us”. So now the point of Ego becomes remembering our connection to God. This is the “personal relationship with God”. This is the Ego’s relationship to the infinite. In order to have a relationship with God, you must first recognize he is there. But recognition is only the beginning. Jesus told his disciples that if they even had the faith of a mustard seed, they’d command a mountain to jump into the sea and it would. That’s heavy stuff. This level of relationship happens through dialogue with God. The more dialogue you have with God the more your faith grows. What this dialogue is and how to achieve it are what spiritual teachers have been telling us and religions have been corrupting since the beginning of time.

The beauty of this is that all experience and the experience of life itself is facilitated by the Ego. Our Ego doesn’t impede our dialogue with God. It’s the mechanism we use in order to facilitate that dialogue. What impedes us are our base, animalistic tendencies (i.e. the Id) and our aloof and moralistic civilized natures (or our Superegos) as well as the physical world. Each of them scream for our attention, even battling for it like shoppers on black Friday. These are what keep us asleep and spiritually crippled. These very literally ARE the devil. So ignore them and focus on God. Put your Ego to its intended use. Strive for it. Live for it. And your faith will be as big as a mustard seed in no time.

 

 

Daily Wisdomisms: Rumi (The Guest House)

Today’s tidbit is an inspiring and eye-opening poem from Rumi. Enjoy!

 

“This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.”     The Essential Rumi, p. 109

 

To me, this is a poem about perception. I like the idea that being human is a guest house whose purpose seems to be to entertain all these different experiences. But isn’t that the point? We are here to experience all that life and the world has to offer to us. The good and the bad. I”ll be the first to admit, it’s hard to meet the negative at the door laughing. It’s even harder to invite them in. But in the end, even those experiences add to our character and strengthen our souls.  We can’t live life in fear of or trying to avoid negativity and hardship. It WILL find us eventually. There is no escaping the fact that life isn’t all smiles and rainbows. The greatest weapon we have against them is our perception of them.

Even when they “come into our house and violently sweep out all of our furniture” we still treat them honorably. Even when something happens in our lives that totally screws everything up we have to keep a reasonable perception about it. After all, change is often a violent and unsettling process, but the end result is always likely to be a “new delight.”  Seeing misfortune and hardship any other way is a one way ticket for self-pity and depression. And life’s too short to spend in the dark place of our souls all the time.

So” be grateful for whoever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond”.  Each and every experience of our lives is serving to move our souls toward growth and development. So we have to be conscious of falling into the self-pity, woe-is-me mind traps that open so easily every time misfortune knocks on our door. Remember, every time we grow comfortable, we cease to grow.

What’s your passion?

Tonight I was walking into the corner store and sitting outside was a man smoking cigarettes and asking for change. Usually, I decline them, but tonight something moved me. When the man asked if I could spare any change I said, “Sure. I’ll give you all the change I have if you tell me something.”

He said, “What do you want to know?”

“What’s your passion?”

He looked at me quizzically and said, “What does that mean?”

“What fills your heart? What drives you onward?”

Without hesitation he answered, “Love, brother.”

As I was giving him my change, I asked him one final question. “What have you been doing to pursue that lately?”

He shook his head sadly and looked away. “Hell. I don’t even know anymore, man.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I have a list of passions that fill my heart. But when I ask myself what I’ve been doing to pursue them, I have to admit to myself, “Hell. I don’t even know anymore man.” And why don’t I know? Why have I given up on all these things that add meaning to my life? I suppose for the same reasons most people do. Because we let life get in the way. We tell ourselves, “I’ll start on it tomorrow.” The only problem with that is Tomorrow never comes. It always turns into Today. And it’s always so hard to find the time today; there’s too much to do.

But what is passion? What does it mean?  Ultimately, our passion is what we were put on earth to accomplish. What we individually do to make and leave the world a better place. But that has been distorted and confused. We live in a world where passion has been mistaken for emotional outbursts. Look at reality television. It’s nothing but cheap emotional manipulation saturated with advertisements. The same can be said for social media outlets. Every time I scroll through a feed I go through a range of emotions. This post makes me angry. This post makes me laugh. This post tugs at my heart-strings. This post wants me to buy a new razor. And on and on. These things aren’t passions they are sleazy emotional ploys. We shouldn’t be filling our heart with them. They give our lives no meaning. In fact, they only take from us. By the time I get to the bottom of the feed, I feel empty. I usually slam my computer shut in disgust and tell myself, “Way to go, genius, you just wasted another 20 minutes of your life.” So what’s the alternative? The answer to that is easy: force a change. If you know better, do better.

We let ourselves become convinced that happiness is this false sense of security called the American Dream and we’ve sacrificed our passions on the altar of this great god called Mammon. We’ve been conditioned all our lives to believe that if we do everything according to plan, go to school, get a job, make money, get a house, fill it with shit, then we are supposed to be happy. But that’s not the case. I see more and more people unhappy with their supposed achievements. But this doesn’t necessarily mean more and more people are realizing what they need to be doing is following their passion. Too many of us are immersing ourselves in an ever-expanding myriad of distractions in order to ignore the fact that we’re miserable and unfulfilled. We are all guilty of it. We can’t really blame ourselves too much, I mean, it IS the world we were born into. But it’s not the world that we have to live in. It’s not the world that we have to leave to our children.

Things are how they are because we’ve been fooled into accepting a fiction as reality. We CAN change. We CAN refuse to accept the lie and start living in truth. But in order to do that we have to start TODAY. Are you ready? If so:

What’s your passion?

And what have you done to pursue it lately?

Daily Wisdomisms: The Tao Te Ching (53)

As always, the Tao is a well spring of truth and inspiration.  Its complex simplicity can speak to your heart no matter what you are going through. After a chaotic day, I was trying to decide what to post. I flipped around in a few books for a while and then came back to the Tao. I immediately opened to this passage and a light went off in my head. Enjoy!

The Great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Beware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.

When rich speculators prosper
while farmers lose their land;
when government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures;
when the upper class is extravagant and
irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn–
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.”  The Tao Te Ching, chapter 53.

 

I often look at my life and wonder why I always seem to choose the side paths. The Great Way is easy. It’s outlined for us, written on our hearts by God. Whispered to us each day by His loving Spirit. Yet we always seem to say, “Yeah, yeah. That’s all good. But what about what’s over here…No I hear you. Just hold on a sec while I check it out…” And then everything gets thrown out of balance. Part of me says it’s the experience of life. But I ask that part, aren’t we supposed to learn from experience? Why do we seem to get caught up and sidetracked more often than we follow the simple advice of our hearts? For me personally, a lot of it has to do with my thinking that I know what’s best for me. I can handle this. I don’t need God or the Tao or any cryptic sayings of old dead men to tell me what to do. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Only, those old dead men knew what they were talking about. Say what you want about human progress, but people really haven’t changed. All that’s changed is fashion and technology. People are much the same today as they were thousands of years ago. All that technology has done for us is added another level of distraction to an already distracted populace. Now, when the government spends money on weapons instead of cures and the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible, the people scroll past it on their social media apps, only stopping long enough to give it a cursory “like” or to comment about “how horrible it is!” But that’s as far as the outrage is likely to go.  And this…all of this…is not in keeping with the Tao. It seems there’s no sense in showing all that robbery and chaos when there’s a cute picture of a kitten covered in toilet paper instead.

Daily Wisdomisms: Kierkegaard

“yea, so long as every nerve in you is aquiver, whether when you are stealing softly about, or when you step out boldly and Janzian music within drowns out your consciousness—then you feel you are living.”

—Kierkegaard

 

It’s brilliance, it’s passion, it’s inspiration that matter in these uncertain times. These are all there is left to hold on to. The illusion is crumbling beneath our feet and with it goes everything reality holds dear.

Daily Wisdomisms: Hermes Trismegistus

This is a continuation from yesterday’s Wisdomism. Hermes has told us to look with our hearts and be sober in order to see through and overcome the ignorance and deception running rampant in our world. Here, he gets a bit more specific on just how to do that. Enjoy!

First you have to strip off the garment which you are wearing, the web of ignorance, the fabric of evil, the knot of destruction, the girdle of darkness, the living death, the sentient corpse, the portable tomb, the robber in your house, him who hates through what he loves and bears malice through what he hates.

Such is the hateful garment you wear, which binds you in itself lest, when you look up and see the beauty of truth and the Supreme Good which lies within, you should hate the evil of this garment and realize its treachery. This has ensnared you making the seeming senses, insensible; for it has blocked them up with much gross matter and filled them with loathsome pleasure, so you do not hear what you should hear and see what you should see.Corpus Hermeticum Book 7

This “garment” we all wear is our connection to our egos which are entrenched in the physical world and continually seek material pleasures and comforts.  We willingly blind ourselves to the deception around us in order to immerse ourselves in the distractions of the material world. Look around you. Do you see the multiple distractions that surround you even where you sit reading this?  Humanity has not progressed. We have merely added more bells and whistles to distract us from the truth. And there are those who do not have our best interests at heart who continually play on and add to those distractions in order to keep us in a state of willing subservience.

Daily Wisdom-isms: Robert E. Howard

I’m fairly sure some of you have heard of Robert E. Howard. I’m sure all of you have heard of Conan the Barbarian. Conan was Howard’s most popular character though he birthed many others. He’s also credited with single-handedly creating the genre of “sword and sorcery”. Where did this pioneering writer see most of his works printed? Strictly in pulp magazines. The junk mags of the depression era. He, sadly, never published an actual book during his life. Today’s anecdote comes from a conversation he had with Novalyne  Price Ellis, the local English teacher.

Ms. Price commented that she wanted a side job writing for the pulps like Robert did.

He looked her square in the eye and said, “It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”

—taken from “One Who Walked Alone.”

And isn’t it true? There’s this line. This unspoken step in the proper social progression. See, when we’re young, we have all these grand ideas for the legends we’re going to make for ourselves. We’re told over and over that we can be ANYTHING we want to be. So we want to be things like painters, actors, astronauts, writers and pro athletes. These desires ultimately shape who we become. But here’s the kicker: Somewhere along the way these dreams get abandoned.

Artists end up architects. Actors become politicians. Writers become English Teachers. And pro athletes sell cars. This happens in almost every instance because at some point most people abandon the search for their dreams and become comfortable in a “practical lifestyle”. But why?

“It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”

So what about the intrepid fools who don’t give up? Some people never lose sight of their dreams. Some people can’t. No matter how hard they try to fit in, to become comfortable and complacent.  Sure, these passionate fools cross the line from time to time. Even starving artists have to eat. But they never stay. The pull of their dream is too strong, their passion too great. For these daring individuals, life isn’t about seeing how high you can “level up” your material junk. It’s about creating. It’s about leaving behind a legacy that will live on and inspire lives long after they’ve passed.

Novalyne Price never wrote for the pulps. She was an English Teacher for most of her life and her only published work was a memoir about her experience with Howard that was written after she retired. And Robert E. Howard? He never crossed the line into proper social progression. He committed suicide at age 32 and his legacy survives to this day.

Epistles of Lucius: Something and Nothing

Some of you may not know the amazing story of the discovery of the documents referred to as “The Epistles of Lucius” and “The Book of Absurdity” (collectively called the Lubb Ickamaddi Library).

It all began in the year 2005 in the dusty town of Lubbock, TX. Until this point, Lubbock was mostly known for Texas Tech and the Dixie Chicks. But it so happens that during the early spring of 2005 a farmer was tilling his fields for planting when his plow hit on something obviously metallic. Further inspection revealed a metal box decorated with odd symbols buried deep in the ground. Trembling with excited anticipation (and a smidgen of fear) the farmer pried open the box…and was hit with a light and magnificence so profound he may have wet his pants (just a little).

Now he told academic authorities that all he uncovered were the documents. But this, we know now, must have been a lie. Because the Garments of Lucius were supposed to be buried with the books so that he could garb himself upon his birth in this land. Instead, when he was birthed into the land, he was naked as the day he was born. Unfortunately, the folk in Lubbock are a little touchy about naked men running through their streets shouting religious wisdoms. Poor Lucius was promptly seized and committed to the local psych hospital. He hasn’t been heard from since. Many think that Lucius was secretly transferred to Area 51 where he could spread the Good Nonsense of the Book of Absurdity to all the captive aliens there. Whatever his fate, this was one of the letters uncovered by the farmer. Enjoy!

The Epistle of Something and Nothing

There is Nothing and there is Something. There is nothing and there is something.  Something began as the tiniest particle of light trapped within a vast and never ending sea of inky blackness. Nothing. Then Something said OHM!!!!!! And light exploded, illuminating the darkness. And the Light brought with it Creation. And Creation brought with it Life. And the Something continued to resound sending ripples of OHM throughout the eternal sea of Nothing and leaving Life in its wake. Creation was and is everything. It started as the planets and the heavenly bodies. The cosmic orchestra. Then came the gods. Those hyper intelligent and spiritual beings who sprang from the very essence of Something, who resounded from ITS holy core. They looked on Creation with avarice and lusted after Life. They sought to control it. So the battle began. A struggle that wages as long as Creation exists. A struggle that drives the very foundations of Creation, that fuel the ripples of OHM across the void and perpetuate existence.  The Eternal Struggle is slave to the Cycle just like everything else in Creation.  But Nothing cannot be discounted. Nothing is constantly struggling against Something trying to reclaim it. Trying to swallow it back into itself and restore its silent entropy. This is Nothing. This is the essence of everything that Something is for. Eventually, however, Nothing grinds Something to a halt and begins to push it back, to swallow it back up, as it were. And it does. And it has. Countless times before. Because even Nothing and Something are part of a great Cycle. Because Nothing can never Truly swallow Something. Just as Something can never truly conquer Nothing. For Nothing is vast and eternal. And that has been the Cycle for countless times before. Until now.

Call it a glitch. But this time when the gods sprang from the heart of Something, some of them got the idea, had the desire to create Life themselves. Only it couldn’t happen without Something. So these tricksy gods gathered fragments of Something and put them into fleshly shells. And viola. “Intelligent Life” was created.  That’s right. Humans. And are there other non humans out there? Yes. Something is vast beyond our comprehension. And there are more gods than stars in the sky scattered over ITS expanse.  And these usurper gods claimed themselves to be Something even though they weren’t. Not really. More like mad scientists. Crazy spiritual hackers.  But they claimed to be IT anyway.  That primal Spark that all This was born from. They claimed this for themselves and Intelligent Life believed it.  Later, Intelligent Life would become more vain than was good for it and, claiming to be IT themselves, attempt to overthrow the usurper gods.  But something happened that the usurpers never expected. You see, up till this time, Something had always been a presence. Living yes, aware yes, but not exactly conscious. It had a purpose and it fulfilled that purpose. Until the fragments of ITSELF trapped inside ITS own creation became Aware. For the first time Something was conscious of ITSELF and it said I AM. And with that affirmation came Love. Love for Creation. Love for Life. And Something wanted to protect Creation from Nothing. To fight back. So it made ITSELF in Creation aware of Nothing. And here we are.

Like Remnants

…something left behind?
Do you see it?
Open your eyes!
Life is BUENO!
The road never ends,
and the birds always sing.

Life is a dream.
No choice but to live it boldly
until we wake up.

Count on the sun rising,
count on time flowing,
count on the journey
ever moving onward.

Count on
Everything
and
Nothing
expelling us into our destinies.

Sometimes paths never split.
Sometimes home never stays in one place.
Some futures are made
by groups of individuals.
Count on that
Brothers and Sisters.

Oral Traditions

I’ll whisper to you
the delicate sagas of
a world before its fall.
The charming sonnets sung
by voiceless choirs of birds
will make the willows weep.
Hear the epics told with a zealous ferocity
by the warm summer breeze.

I’ll enchant you with the hopes and dreams
of a caring mother nursing a tiny life
to superior health.

Lady Gaia Moves beneath the
down-trodden hearts of men.

I will bellow the frustrations
of a raging storm bent on destruction.

I’ll tell you of the legends of
angels and men caught together
in the chaotic cycle of
God’s eternity.

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