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.

Advertisements

The Male and Female Spiritual Principles

November 23, 2011

Spirit operates “behind” or “inside” the physical world we occupy. This simply means that Spirit is the cause of everything that happens and the physical world is an effect (like a hand inside a glove causing the glove’s observable movements).

In a similar fashion, a person’s invisible mind is the cause of his or her observable behavior. Mind (with its “left-brain” and “right-brain” aspects that correspond to the male and female principles) is, in fact, a synonym for Spirit. Humans are thus a neatly-packaged microcosm of the universal macrocosm, especially with regard to sex and intimacy.

As a smaller-scale representation of the universe, humans express spiritual principles—in this case, the male and female creative principles that govern the ongoing creation and development of the universe. These universal principles work together—and must work together—in order for anything to exist at all. On a human level, when we understand the dynamics between these two “halves of God”—the male and female creative principles—and apply them to sexuality and intimacy, the result is increased unity and healing on many levels of being (physical, emotional, and so on).

Both male and female qualities are present in both men and women, although our biological forms (as determined by heredity and experience) determine the prevalence of each aspect in any given person. The male creative principle is directive, analytical, and giving. It is able to evaluate, determine, and implement. Basically, it decides what to create. The female creative principle is receptive, submissive, and nurturing. It is able to carry out, produce, and make happen. Basically, it brings forth into existence.

These basic male and female qualities are symbolized in sexual reproduction. The male determines what will be created by his contribution of genetic material. He gives this biological direction to the female, who receives it and produces the desired effect—in this case, she brings new life into existence.

On a different level, every person produces effects in life by conceiving an end state in their personal male aspect of mind (the conscious, or “thinking” mind), which their personal female aspect of mind (the subconscious or “subjective” mind) carries out automatically. The resulting condition or effect is like the offspring of this process.

Father, Mother, Child: the original Trinity, a symbolic representation of the creative process of life.

So we see that the male-female creative process operates on many levels of existence, and can be learned by observing our own thinking processes, the conditions of our lives, and the world around us, all of which operates according to the same principles.


Victims

November 19, 2011

Most people think that a victim, like an “addict,” is a real person: “someone who has been hurt in the past.” To me, though, a victim is simply “someone who does not yet realize his or her own power.”

When you’re hurt, you naturally feel pain—you feel negative or bad about it in some way. But if you realize your own sovereign power over your thoughts and emotions—and, therefore, your body and behavior as well—you don’t get caught in the thought-cycle trap of “victimization.” Once you begin to label yourself a “victim” (or allow someone else to label you!) and you identify with that mindset, you then begin to produce the behavior and circumstances—relationship problems and all—that you think a “victim” is supposed to have.

It’s important to understand that all of us, although we’re individuals, are the product of our culture. The idea of a “victim” is what some Jungian folks might call a “cultural archetype.” Since birth, we’ve all come into contact (either in our personal experience or through TV, movies, stories, etc.) with someone—often a fictional character!—who is identified as a “victim” of some external circumstance or event.  These people tend to have certain mindsets, behaviors and problems: all negative! For whatever reasons (which are unique to the individual), we might identify with that person—especially if it’s Mom or Dad or another person close to us when we’re learning as a child how to operate in the world. People are copycats, especially when we’re young.

Why does one rape victim overcome the negative effects of the experience, while another never seems to get over it—letting that experience reduce the quality of her future relationships and behaviors? The difference is on the mental level, the level of thoughts and emotions. Our emotions follow our thoughts, and “self-powerful” thinking results (eventually) in positive, powerful emotions and better circumstances. On the other hand, “victim” thinking produces weak, negative emotions, which then bring us into negative situations that reinforce that thinking.

To overcome or avoid “victim” thinking, I think it’s important first to recognize that we have ultimate control over our own thoughts and how much negativity we will allow to determine the course of our lives. We allow our own “victim” mindset! Second, I think it’s essential to let go of that terrible thing that happened in the past. You’re not that person now, and the harm doesn’t have to happen to you continually—unless you’re in the habit of replaying that event on the movie screen in your mind.

That movie screen produces your future!

The best way that I know of to let go of pain is to have an emotional release. “Deep” crying—the kind that connects us with that original pain, not the “oh, woe is me” kind—helps us to overcome negativity and let it go. If we learn not to let these bad things attach to us when they happen—if we can release them and get on with life—then, in my opinion, we never have to fear being a “victim,” no matter what negative events might befall us.

Eventually, we learn that our “victim” mindset produces more victimization in our experience, and that moving beyond that mental dis-ease frees us from the real-life circumstances that reinforce that unhealthy mindset. The inner produces the outer.

So, in a nutshell, a victim is a person with a “self-powerless” mindset that they don’t yet know how to get out of. When they get out of it, they cease to be a victim! The truly strong people are those who refuse to let events or circumstances break them on the inside: those who have moved beyond seeing themselves as “victims.”

(Written in 2007)


We Command the Gods

November 18, 2011

“When spirit rises and commands, the gods are ready to obey.”

—James Allen, in As a Man Thinketh

Ernest Holmes explained the three aspects of existence in his monumental work The Science of Mind. In his description, conscious mind, or “Spirit,” decides and envisions what is to be, while subjective mind, or “Law,” receives this direction and brings about the envisioned circumstances as an expression in the physical world, or “Body.”

Spirit imagines, desires, and directs; Law receives and acts; and Body expresses. This view of the Trinity lies at the very core of Holmes’ philosophy and in many ancient wisdom teachings.

The “gods,” as typified in the quote above and in myths throughout human history, are the natural laws or forces which together form the “Law,” collectively bringing about the desires of the constantly-visualizing Spirit. We might imagine them as agents or aspects of the Divine, from our point of view, and also as psychological principles that apply to the ongoing flow of our own life experiences from the inside out.

These functions have been labeled and personified variously as “gods,” “archetypes,” “archangels,” and so on. These agents’ consistency of action and purpose might give them the appearance of personality or character to those who become aware of them, and so people’s visualization of them throughout history as figures or beings is easy to understand.

(I am not describing demons, ghosts, or other beings that might occupy a lower level of what we think of as the “spiritual” world. These beings, if they exist, are not agents of the Divine but beings like us, with their own agendas.)

As it turns out (as we Western humans are just now beginning to re-learn after a 2,000-year detour through the spiritual Dark Ages), the “gods” are the servants of men. As agents or facets of the Divine principle of Law, they do what they’re told: they bring about what Spirit (conscious mind) desires and impresses upon them through thought. This includes the desires of humans, who are individualized expressions of that same conscious mind or Spirit on this physical plane.

During billions of years of development in the physical universe, the workings of conscious mind were not visible. Conscious mind was something like what we usually think of as God: the invisible First Cause behind All That Is, whose will the Law brings forth into reality even while the Cause Itself remains hidden amidst the physical universe which is Its Self-expression.

Since the rise of humans from the ranks of advanced life forms, however, Spirit has finally developed—from within an organism!—the ability to affect reality in the same creative fashion that has always operated behind the scenes. Law expresses through (non-human and human) life as instinct, while Spirit expresses through (human) life as insight, intuition, and creative power—thought.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of humans is that we are uniquely capable of forming thoughts that do not conform to reality and then believing them to be true, or possible, which then makes them real in our experience. For example, if people think “the gods” are superior to themselves (as most people do), then the gods (as agents of Law, remember) will submit to the will of conscious mind (in us) and act as if it really were true. They will respond to that thought-direction and bring about circumstances that make them appear to be superior to that person.

Law always follows the direction of Spirit (conscious mind), and as long as the individual is willing to entertain incorrect thoughts about life, his thoughts will continue to be confirmed in his experience as “the gods” follow his thought-directions. In this way, his whole existence (even if it has to be filtered through a lie) confirms the thing that he really believes and thinks about life.

If, however, people awaken to the fact of their creative power over these forces—forces they might never have been aware of before now—they can make the gods dance in their favor if that’s what they desire. As Holmes said himself, “We should control the subjective and not let it control us.”

As expressions of conscious mind, then, it might be helpful for us to realize that we command the gods.


Inward and Outward

November 17, 2011

To focus “inward,” into the mind, emotions, and beyond, is to focus “outward.”

We are accustomed to thinking of the inner and outer aspects of Life as separate: the mind, emotions, and so on are “inside” (or a part of) our self, and we visualize these non-physical parts of self as contained within our bodies. Likewise, the world we can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste—but which is not connected to our own nerve endings—we think of as being “outside” of ourselves.

This incomplete perception is a product of “five-sensory” thinking, up to and including the scientific mindset. In the five-sensory view, we begin with the visible body as the basic unit of function and then we categorize and divide the rest of reality in relation to it. This process seems to be a natural and expected result of having evolved from (apparently five-sensory) animals. This is only an incomplete mindset that understanding will reveal and correct as humanity grows in our ability to discern, identify, and explain the subtler regions of experience: the realms of existence that we consider to be “non-physical.”

Might it be that the physical aspect of Reality (including our physical bodies) is only the most obvious effect of a mainly non-physical reality, which our five senses can only point to or hint at, but never discover and describe?

To go inward, within the individual mind, is to go outward, as it were: not into physical reality per se, but into the dynamic, invisible fields of awareness whose reaches extend beyond the physical and which lie beneath—and determine—physical experience and expression. In this way, the inner and outer worlds of reality are mirror images of each other.


Neural Connections and Unlearning

November 16, 2011

The brain is often seen—mostly incorrectly—as having a short period of learning ability that ends early in life, never to be revisited. Although this circumstance is functionally the case at the present time in our culture, in reality the human brain is an incredibly flexible piece of hardware. As such, it can unlearn previously learned information as easily as it learns new things. (Indeed, how is something truly “learned” if it can be replaced by more true or valid information in the future?).

To “learn” (whether the information learned is true or false) is to make neural connections in the brain and therefore to crystallize patterns of perception and thought. Learning to unlearn, as well as learn, might be the brain-exercise needed to ward off conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which seem to result from mental rigidity and crystallized neural connections.

In other words, being closed to new ideas or ways of thinking makes us at greater risk for such conditions, and learning to break free of old habitual patterns—learning to unlearn—can help us to reduce our risk of them.

We each have a mind that is expressed through its physical counterpart, the brain. The brain’s configuration, seen (in one way) as connections between brain cells, is the physical representation of the non-physical contents of our mind. When we are born, many of these neural connections aren’t there yet; they’re made as we encounter life experience, and reinforced when new experience jibes with old experience—or, more correctly, when we believe that the new experience jibes with the old experience, whether it really does or not!

If we allow it, fear produces in the mind an incorrect idea about the reality we encounter, solidifying this idea through new connections in our brain chemistry and making it part of our conception of the world and our place in it. As always, the power of the mind to cause our experience is demonstrated—for our own betterment or detriment.

This doesn’t make us quite a “blank slate” as psychology used to teach, though. Our physical container (genetic makeup) determines our tendencies, potentials, talents, and creative abilities, which are brought forth to a greater or lesser degree in our lives through the shaping-force of our experiences. We are “nature” plus “nurture”: biology plus experience, or brain plus neural connections.

When we say that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” we’re saying that an older person’s neurons are linked together in a certain way that keeps him or her from learning anything new or different. This old saying isn’t true, though, even if you can see evidence of it at every turn. Contrary to popular thought (“common sense”), information can also be unlearned. To unlearn is to undo these neural connections, making them available for use in a new and better way.

To unlearn is to allow the possibility that we are wrong in some way, and to explore other possible ways of looking at the world. Unlearning is the way to freedom! Through it, our misconceptions are identified and corrected. Unlearning frees the mind, breaking patterns of neural communication and therefore automatic thought.

Unlearning is what I call “revolutionary spirituality.” The more supple and flexible the body/brain is (by remaining open to new understanding and experience), the more open the link is between the body/brain and the mind/spirit. Thus, what we call the “spiritual path” naturally leads to a healthier brain! It leads to a reduced risk of unhealthy brain conditions that can result from the crystallization of these brain-connections.

To take care of your brain is to take care of the rest of you—in every way—and the best way to take care of your brain is to clear out any incorrect perceptions you have about yourself and the reality you encounter: to unlearn!


Mental Patterns

October 17, 2011

Everything in life is a pattern. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the human mind. (Okay, except maybe in mineral crystals or bird migration or multiplication tables or DNA or ice or rice or the outward expression of the mind, which is behavior.)

When the mind encounters a situation that is similar to one already in its memory, it attempts to create a pattern by linking the new experience with the remembered one. In doing so, it is trying to create a feeling of safety and security by forming a direct connection between the two experiences: one that is old and familiar, and one that is new and unknown.

Of course, that’s what usually ends up happening. Similar events from different times in life are strung together and connected in the memory. As a result of this organization, patterns are instilled and reinforced in the individual, and behavior becomes automated. Because of the programmed responses that have now been set up in the mind/brain, the individual acts without thinking consciously and becomes a human pattern of behavior.

Once again, the individual becomes a pattern of behavior. As a result of merely reacting to events instead of using the mind  to produce new situations, the person becomes, in effect, an effectrather than a cause. The person becomes predictable, dull, and unenthusiastic. This behavior and the underlying neural patterns established in the brain are the cause of the human tendency to resist change of any kind.

These patterns are also the reason why open-mindedness and living the fluid life of faith are essential. When new experiences arrive (which they do unceasingly), the mind of doubt accepts the situation uncritically and treats the new experience as if it were just like any previous experience (which it never is). The mind of faith, on the other hand, evaluates each experience on its own merit, as a new event in life (which it always is). This keeps the mind fluid and supple, the brain freer of crystallized neural pathways—and even helps to keep us young.

One might respond by saying that this self-automation process is indeed good. After all, this is how we learn! Yes, that’s true to a large degree. It’s this crystallization of the mind that enables us to drive a car, or ride a bicycle, or learn geography—but there’s a point where automated thinking becomes a hindrance, not an asset.

Being a behavior pattern is the ideal state of an animal, not a human being. We are not to live by instinct, but by reason and intuition: thought and feeling!  We should learn which of our behaviors are best left on autopilot, and which ones we should take charge of consciously.

This is why I sometimes say that routine is the enemy of real (conscious) living. When people are really (consciously) living, they become the cause of the events they experience instead of constantly reacting to seemingly uncontrollable events that “just happen.”

This is the difference between an empowered person and a disempowered person.

You can live all your life in one city or block or house and never become a victim of routine. Like anything else, awareness is a state of mind! It’s a matter of choosing how you respond to your environment in each moment: either unconsciously (on “auto-pilot”) or consciously (aware of your choices and especially the reasons behind them).

It’s a popular idea that humans aren’t supposed to be empowered. Does this make any sense? All change, innovation, and progress (I mean real progress, not the bulldozer-on-the-forest kind) is made because of, through, and by people! Where do progressive (new) ideas come from? They come from the “inner” world of thoughts and ideas, the world that everyone shares in differing degrees and to which all people have some access. This is the unseen world of Spirit—and it is through people that the world of Spirit is brought forth into the world of men!

To be empowered is to be an instrument of God on the Earth.


%d bloggers like this: