Monday, December 22, 2014

The Return of the Ego

letting go of ego, fall leaves, nature photo, spiritual awakening, spiritual path
I want to start out by re-emphasizing that we'll always have an ego so long as we're in a human body. It is not an inherently bad thing. I define the ego as a lens to process immense amounts of physical, emotional, energetic, and mental information. That lens helps us to decide what is useful and what is not. An itch at the bottom of my foot can be ignored. A sharp stabbing pain means that I should see what I stepped on.

However, there are many unconscious layers of the ego, and that's what we're after. We want to root out all the parts of ourselves that we don't know about. These are social rules, old karma, past life junk, personal beliefs, family patterning, and so much more. At the beginning of someone's spiritual journey, all of this is invisible. Ironically, it's also hidden in plain sight, and as you become more conscious, these seemingly hidden issues become hugely apparent. But this type of sloughing off goes in layers too. So we rub off one layer of old skin only to find another layer of issues underneath it. It can seem endless (it's not). And we do need to be dedicated to uproot all of the issues so that we are aware of them. Otherwise, these dirty old roots will grow up a new unconscious ego, which often acts like it is somehow newer and better. But in truth, it's still playing out the same old hidden issues and agendas.

That Spiritual Ego Thing

I like to differentiate from the true spiritual ego and the spiritual ego which really is just the old ego in new clothes. The true spiritual ego knows that it is just a lens. It can be used and discarded in the service of the divine. The other spiritual ego may say the same thing while attempting to attain its goals and maintain its agendas. For instance, hidden issues around the fear of being alone that have not be resolved will rear up again, and a person in this example will be hard at work looking for their soulmate or twin flame. This person still doesn't know why they need to be in a relationship, but the "idea of the spiritual relationship" has now become the ego's new goal.

There are many other ways the ego likes to grow back. A lot of people think that "eating spiritually" will mean that they never get sick whatever eating spiritually means to them. Here we see a hidden issue with a fear of pain or death. Others will seek out a spiritual purpose to help others, but this very often hides deeper wounding in the the well-meaning helper. It can also hide an issue like lack of self worth, and this type of ego needs to get affirmation, validation, and positive feedback from others somehow. So being a spiritual healer, teacher, counselor, or something else seems like the way to achieve it. There are so many ways that this spiritual ego can rear its head, but as you become more tuned in to its games, you'll get quicker and quicker at seeing its tell-tale fingerprints.

Spiritual Awakening: A Ginormous Ego Weedwhacker

Many of you who had a spiritual awakening may have been momentarily freed of the unconscious ego. It was a lovely place, and generally speaking, the initial bliss phase is an early stage of re-aligning. It tends to feel really good, but also it can be very etheric and not grounded. Being fully awakened in the body is a much different way of being. It allows fun and un-fun moments in life to come and go without the body, heart, or mind being upset by them. Usually, the initial phases can be disturbed, and because they can be disturbed in some way, the next layer of healing is revealed.

For instance, you were floating along magnificently until you began getting calls from creditors about overdue bills. Then that bliss stage ended. You plummeted back down into fear. What happened? It's not the creditors; it's you. An experience triggered undealt with unconsciousness. While you thought you were free of scarcity fears, the spiritual awakening simply had lobbed off a huge chunk of that plant. It didn't uproot the whole thing (It rarely uproots the whole thing; spiritual awakening more typically seems to clear out enough space so that you can start to do your internal weeding). Now an important choice has come; do you engage with the fear that's come up and the creditors hounding you? Or do you try to find an escape or relief from this issue? More often than not, people look for an escape from the issue rather than feeling into the pain. As such, the momentary issue will pass one way or another, and then the issue will go back into remission until the next trigger (such as another call from creditors).

Growing Up From Neglect

Once in remission, the ego's issue is now out of sight. It can go back to working in the shadows and pulling the strings. Your money problems (or relationship problems, health problems, or whatever is present for you) will not be resolved because the issues around them are still inside you. It regularly happens that we try to ride out the storm of our difficult issues. It's a very human thing to do. We're almost never taught to turn into pain with perhaps the exception of athletics. But in that instance, a lot of the pain endured there is detrimental (If the body tells you that you have a bad sprain, continuing to play on it will further damage the sprained area). On the spiritual path, breathing into fear will not damage you. If you get to the root of a scarcity fear, relationship fear, or something else, then you can get free from it. When an issue fully releases, we don't have to deal with it again. In fact, formerly upsetting situations can come and go into our lives without us even realizing it because we are no longer reactive to them.

But sadly, this is not often the case. As such, the issue remains, and the ego begins rebuilding its defenses. If money is the issue, the ego starts to work on finding ways to get more money again and to never have to deal with the uncertainty of not having enough. Any paths in this person's life that look like they might lead towards igniting this issue will get ignored or avoided. As such, the person is creating a new set of walls in his or her life. They also may not be new at all. They may just be a wall that gets redecorated with Ganesha posters and abundance affirmations. (Ganesha is a deity from the Hindu tradition who removes obstacles; ironically, in this case the person is trying to remove obstacles to material abundance, but is actually making more obstacles.) Their karma will very likely repeat, and at some point (hopefully), this person will see that a pattern is reoccurring so that they can finally uncover the deeper issue.

Breaking Through the New Games

Breaking through the new games can almost be worse than the old ones. Usually, a person who has already let go of a lot of their old ego identity (the busy stockbroker living in New York City) at least has some idea of what this like. But now that they're an organic farmer in an intentional living community, they may also feel even more committed to the new identity. They don't want to let it go because they think this is the "right" or "spiritual" thing to do even though the same types of patterns are repeating. Sure the faces are different, but this person is still having the same types of issues as before. That's the nature of our issues and karma. We can redecorate our lives, but the underlying structures remain until addressed.

So sometimes I am talking to people about throwing out all the new wall paper and inner furniture. I don't care what your astral connections are or how you can chant mantras for four hours a days. I want you to come into this here and now. There is no where to run to. If you think your latest spiritual beliefs will keep you safe, think again. A belief is a human mental contrivance, and the universe doesn't pay very much attention to those. There's a rawness to life that we cannot avoid, but the unconscious ego does so again and again. It will create a thousand new beliefs and practices to avoid deeper issues, but if you truly want to be free, you have to keep delving deeper each time fear, anticipation, expectation, anger, sadness, guilt, and shame come up. Even the so-called positive emotions must be watched for attachment and jealosy that may want to latch onto bliss and joy. There are so many games being played on the level of the mind, and remember that this is just the mind. There are deeper issues in the heart, the animal body (which is the level of consciousness our bodies operate at), and in the subtle energies. Most of those will get ignored until we've really dealt with a lot of surface-level ego issues (even though it may seem deep, the further you go on the path, the more you'll see how superficial they really are).

There's Always Another Chance

The great thing about the ego and your karma is that they'll keep on giving you more chances to work on them. They're not going anywhere. They're in you. And outside of divine intervention (which I don't recommend anyone wait for), we have to actively face these things. But fortunately, as you get to notice their tell-tale signs, you'll get better and better at identifying them and engaging with them. "Ah-ha. I'm feeling fear. Why am I feeling that? Oh, here is some regret. What is being regretted? What feels like it's been lost?" It doesn't necessarily get more fun to work through issues, and some of the deep-seated issues rooted in the animal body (which is foundational to the mental ego) feel like someone is doing a full extraction of eight of your teeth without anesthesia. But these moments of discomfort pass. They always pass.

Resting in a True Spiritual Ego

Resting in a true spiritual ego as I've described earlier is no big deal. It's no big deal because you're nobody. Nobody doesn't need to be somebody, but s/he can be anybody depending on the demands of the current moment. It's an incredibly flexible place to live your life, and it's what the old unconscious ego has been avoiding. It thought you needed rules, obligations, desires, and attachments to live a full, meaningful, and safe life. But you don't. Those rules, assumptions, et al have kept you caged and trapped until some of you felt like you would scream and go out of your mind. But now you are going sane. Going sane takes you back through all the insanity you've been living in, and it shows you the truth of it. When you get scared and decide that the old insanity is actually true, you go back to the cage. Life returns to the old "seemingly" safe patterns--even though for some of you those patterns are quite miserable. You get to stay there as long as you like. That's what the return of the ego is. It's a return to the cage. It's a return to the prison cell until you get the smell of fresh air again and something wakes further in your spirit. And then it's time to get the sledgehammer again and break through, break out, and break back into your true life.
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