Ego and Mind

January 24, 2017

In our quest for “the truth,” let us not confuse ego with self. It seems easy to distinguish them on the surface. “Who knows better than I do what’s me and what’s not me?!”

Looking within, it ALL appears to be “me.” When someone or some life situation pushes one of my buttons, the reaction certainly seems to be ME. It comes from me; I feel the anger, fear, embarrassment, defensiveness, or other negative emotion; I think the thought in my head that accompanies the act and precedes the feeling.

“Of COURSE that’s me reacting!”

Nature of the Ego

We think that the things lurking in the dark nooks and crannies of the mind are–or at least are FROM–the self. This is because we don’t know any better. As part of the process of creating the ego-mind, the mind was programmed to believe that its deeper nature is unknowable. This is because to know the mind is to destroy the ego-mind; the power of the ego-mind lies exactly in the belief that it cannot be known, cannot be discovered, and is forever (safely, for itself) in darkness.

Darkness is merely the absence of light, the absence of awareness. The darkness is where demons lie, and from which they emerge to wreak havoc on ourselves and others—yes, even those we know and love.

“Why did I do that? I didn’t mean to hurt so-and-so. Am I terrible?”

It wasn’t YOU who did or said the thing that hurt someone you love. It was the ego-mind, the darkness, the unplumbed depths of yourself, which if left alone only remains to cause more trouble, pain, misunderstanding, and suffering–THROUGH you.

The ego has many names, many lenses through which to operate through you, many justifications and excuses for its behavior, many rules by which to predetermine future thoughts and actions. The ego-mind BELIEVES it has everything to defend, but it sacrifices everything for fog, for vapor–like a robot programmed by a crazy person to secure nothingness at all costs, and to destroy all that appears to threaten its own existence.

The ego-mind fears even a shingle being blown off its roof by the wind, and it’s the wind of self-honesty, courage, and experience that blows the structure of darkness away, bit by bit–in my experience.

Can the ego-mind be brought into the service of the light, though allowed to remain? Hosed off, dried gently, and hugged, then sent to play? In that case, what the hose washes away is ego; what is left to play is a part of self that the ego had “taken captive” and cut off from the rest of self.

Contents of the Ego

The ego-mind is a confusing mixture of gold and lead: the gold being parts of the self that are hidden in egoic darkness, and the lead being the “substance” of the ego that mixes with captive parts of self and produces a counterfeit self that we mistake for the True Self!

Ego is pure ignorance, darkness, and evil, with no redeeming value, in my experience. What ego releases from its grasp when we hose it off, or when the wind blows–when we shine awareness on it–is part of the self. But that part of the self was NOT itself part of ego. It was a piece of you or me that the ego had held and used for its own purposes for a long time.

Spirituality is not so much about fighting against the ego, but expanding our light so that we integrate the contents of the ego into our awareness. There are parts of us that are suspended in the egoic jelly-muck and we don’t function well without those parts of ourselves.

Indeed, when held by the ego-mind those parts, and their power, are used against us—and others.

When we free those long-lost aspects of ourselves, we can welcome them “back into the fold,” where their power and energy now is at our service instead of parasitically sucking our energy. We become more powerfully ourselves!

False Spirituality

Instead of removing mental images that comprise the ego-mind, some New Age teachers say that we can replace one thought with another, but this is equivalent to replacing a “worse” ego with a “better” one! It means replacing something that’s false and harmful with something that’s false and enjoyable!

This is the evil of New-Agey fluffiness: spirituality isn’t about getting what you WANT! It’s about removing what blocks you (on the inside) from understanding who you ARE! No mental “reprogramming” is needed, no matter what the “feel-good people” might say, or how good their intentions are!

Feeling good feels better than feeling like shit, but if one’s goal is truth, wisdom, and understanding—GROWTH—then one must welcome BOTH feeling good AND feeling like shit as teachers. In this way, one can use all of life as means to remove what is false from oneself. Then we feel better for REAL.

What is false? Anything that was put there by another person, or by oneself because of another person.

The ego-mind, emptied, is just the mind. The ego-mind is just the mind, full of crap that others put into it, probably long ago.

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Gnosis and the Entanglement of Soul in the Flesh

December 24, 2016

Entanglement. That’s a good way to describe the human soul’s brief yet seemingly long stay on this warm, wet rock we call “Earth.”

Entanglement by choice, I would say, though I have no proof of this to offer. Just my own experience.

Without a body, the soul is light and free, attached to nothing–at least not in the way that we in the flesh become “attached” during our stay in this physical world. How do I know this? Because I experience it when I dream: living without a (physical) body.

The soul may well be a “body,” but not physical in its substance. The flesh we occupy here on Earth may be an imitation of that wispy form that leaves when we die, or when we dream at night, and which sometimes haunts dark corners and empty houses in the wee hours.

The soul is the cookie cutter and the body is the cookie.

It’s hard to put chains on something that isn’t physical, like the soul. That’s why Thoreau said that even though he was jailed for not paying his poll tax, he was nevertheless free. He identified with his soul more than his body.

This means, by the way, that Thoreau had the “gnosis” for which many have suffered and died at the hands of religious authorities. Luckily for him, he lived in the USA, product of the Enlightenment, under laws that came from that enlightened viewpoint.

Enlightenment and gnosis are the same thing: realization that one is not one’s body, and that life is therefore much grander and at the same time less stressful and serious than one previously thought. It is the realization of the soul.

That soul is you, and me, and the religious authorities, and the dog that gave my cats fleas, and my cats, and the fleas, and the grass in which they live now. It is each one, and every one, depending on how you look at it.

That soul, here on Earth, is wrapped up–entangled–in energy that we can detect as waves and particles, atoms and molecules, cells and fluid. And bone.

By choice? Some say so. I think so, but I have no proof. That’s okay, because in things of the soul proof is moot. You know, or you don’t know. Knowing is gnosis. Not knowing is agnosis, no matter what the agnostic person chooses to think or say about the matter.

Agnosis can appear to be atheism, or secularism, or religious fundamentalism. Agnosis is “not knowing,” which is the state of most of us here in this tangled world of flesh. Agnosis is being tangled and not knowing it. Gnosis is knowing one’s entanglement, and (maybe) becoming untangled.

This is why monks came about. Untanglement.

Monkishness, though, is an attempt to escape from the world, if it’s pursued beyond its initial intention of separating oneself from the entanglement of others (who are also without gnosis) in order to gain gnosis. If pursued in itself, monkishness becomes a cocoon, like playing video games or snorting meth or reading fiction–a way to try to forget one’s own entanglement here.

Trying to forget one’s entanglement is the opposite of gnosis. Gnosis is awareness, not forgetting.

The point, then, is not to be untangled, but to know one’s entanglement, to see it clearly. This is not pleasant. But it means becoming aware of both of our natures: the body and the soul. The eidolon and the daemon, as some early Christians called them, respectively.

What one chooses to do with that gnosis is up to that person, which means that it’s up to the soul, the “Higher Self,” the Real You. One sign of gnosis is obedience to that inner Self, whose directions are not always pleasant.

After all, gnosis or agnosis, we’re all still entangled here in the flesh.

(Written on August 16, 2011 and freshly edited on December 24, 2016)


Purpose and Meaning

September 28, 2011

All matter in the universe tends to find equilibrium. Hot things cool down to the temperatures around them, substances break down into elements, and gasses spread out until an entire space is filled with them evenly.

Not so with life. Life forms tend to get more complex and diverse over time. This doesn’t appear to make sense in the world of matter! What is it that makes life improve and get more complex over time?

It’s whatever animates a living being, and which dis-animates the body at death. Call it what you want, but you don’t have to believe in it. It’s there! It can’t be measured as part of an experiment, which is why it isn’t in science textbooks. Nevertheless, this thing called Soul is responsible for life.

The purpose of life, in general, is twofold. First, it is the accumulated experience and growth of all life forms—learning—which leads to the second: the development of physical beings in whom this Soul can have full expression.

The qualities of Soul include love, forgiveness, peace, and unity. As the more developed humans progress in understanding, these characteristics will become more and more common.  We can see this “spiritual” development in many people today.

As we understand life more, our individual lives become more meaningful to us. As we learn, we lose our attachments to cherished objects and learn to let go. When we let go, we suddenly find that we just gained everything and that there is meaning wherever we go. We carry it with us.

People who haven’t figured this out yet often choose an arbitrary purpose for their own lives and pursue it. This still gives them some satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment, but it doesn’t compare to the sense of fulfillment that comes with understanding.

Real understanding of your own true purpose is like living with the light on, compared to being in the dark all the time.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)


Truth-Seeking, Jesus, and Spirituality

September 20, 2011

I’ve always been searching—not for a religious system to follow, but for the truths behind the ideas that have been presented to me as true. I grew up going to church, and I’ve always seen lots of true and good things in the words of Jesus. He is one of my favorite people. But I don’t think he was what they say he was.

I’ve carried 10-foot-tall crosses across town on Good Friday. I’ve baptized people. I’ve read the entire Bible (except for Numbers). I’ve laid my hands on people in prayer. I’ve studied Greek and searched the Bible for years to find the answers to my questions. I’ve studied the early history of the church and its first leaders.

All of these things I have done as an adult. I’ve found that there is a degree of truth in Christianity, but there’s also a lot that I’ve determined not to be true.

I’ve learned about other religions, too. I’ve seen some truth in most of them, and some falsehood in all of them. I won’t say that they all teach the same thing because they don’t.

I love Jesus in a way that most Christians don’t, and I seek to understand him in a way that most Christians never will. I see him as a brother and a teacher. I see him as frustrated with people, even his own disciples, because even they didn’t understand his message.

And I see his words twisted and changed—by people with their own ideas about him—to mean something that he didn’t intend.

I want to be like him in a way that most people don’t. What does it mean to be “like him”?

It means to walk a similar path to the one he walked, and to grow into the kind of person that he was—and more. Like he is supposed to have said, those who believe in him will do even greater works than he did (John 14:12). He was an example of what people can be when they seek love, God, and understanding, without seeking approval from other people who don’t understand anyway.

In other words, to me Jesus was an example of a spiritual person—a person who lives by the guidance of the Spirit within.

I’ve traveled the road of religion, and I prefer the road of the Spirit. When you trust the Spirit to guide you, you don’t need anyone else’s words or ideas to confirm what you know.

It’s a life of faith that brings you everything you need.


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