Archive for July, 2013


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In my last post I looked at how the ego is an aspect of our totality that defines and distinguishes us as separate individuals. The ego, in astrology, is symbolized in the Sun. We say the Sun is our ‘individuality’, our ‘essence’ – the fuel that drives us. We must ‘feed our Sun’ if we want to live lives of passion and purpose.   We are here to create, and to create, we need to unearth our self-expression. The ego is the energy that drives this mission, to express our uniqueness, to create – something  in the world. Whether we are creating a family and a home, or producing great works of art or literature is irrelevant. The infinite doesn’t care what we are creating – only that we do.

 But this is just one way of defining the ego. While I have been influenced by astrology, I am aware that there are other schools of thought regarding the ego.  One is that the ego is the mind in disguise – and the mind is not our friend.   Does that sound surprising? We might think that our mind makes us who we are, and that we are conscious (as in self-conscious) beings, because of our thoughts.  But this may not be the case. Our thoughts are different from our ideas – which come as new, and often creative bursts of consciousness. Thoughts on the other hand are those old tapes that endlessly play, in the form of mental chatter. This is the actually the mind. And you might agree with me when I make the suggestion that most of the time, this mind is not our friend.  In fact, life can feel like a constant internal battle – us, versus ourselves. That is, our conscious self, versus our sub-conscious self. The mind and thoughts are the domain of the subconscious. Our creativity (ideas) comes from the higher mind, or conscious (self-conscious) awareness.  The subconscious relates (in part) to the reptilian brain and this has been referred to as birthplace of the ego.   Our higher consciousness, on the other hand, relates to the prefrontal cortex – a more recent development in the story of human evolution.

 How then, do we reconcile these two streams of thought?  How can the ego be in two places at once?  Is it the guardian and driver of our creative individuality, or is it the voice of the lower mind, the subconscious tape player – constantly undermining us with its theme of fear?  That the ego trades in fear is not hard to see. Fear of not surviving is a powerful force and one that is hardwired into us – we come into the world well equipped to protect ourselves physically. Later we use fear, or it uses us, to protect ourselves emotionally as well. It is the ego that makes us compete with others, and to fight, if need be, for our survival.  It is the ego that prizes life so highly, that we go to great lengths to avoid death. Death is the ego’s oldest adversary and as long as we fear death, believing life and the preservation of it to be paramount, we are living in the ego’s world. 

 They say the great truths in life are always paradoxical.  The ego, when we look at it from these two quite distinct angles,  is paradoxical.  Here is my attempt at reconciliation…

 We live in a system where duality rules. For everything there is an opposite. It is just how things are in this virtual reality. It is part of the rule-set here. As such, we have a this/or that mentality. Things have to be one thing or the other, conscious-subconscious, inside-outside, heart-mind  – which is why we find paradoxes so disconcerting. In the case of the ego, there is a blurring of boundaries. This or that becomes this and that.  We can look at it in this way: the ego is an energy field (as all things are) whose job is to fuel our growth and evolution.   The ego itself is evolving – in and through us, just as we are evolving in and through the larger consciousness system.  Early on in our evolutionary story the energy of the ego – housed (for want of a better word) in the reptilian brain, helps us ‘stay alive’. Later, when we’ve been around the wheel a few times, we move out of survival mode into creative mode.  Ego energy now not only helps us stay alive, it helps us define our individuality and motivates us to express it in the world.  It encompasses (survival) and transcends it (creativity). All evolution works this way: encompass and transcend.

 As we grow our consciousness, we come to understand that we are not separate at all. We are part of the collective body called humanity – and, vitally, we are infinite, immortal aspects of a higher consciousness system. As such, the old fight to preserve our individuality, and indeed our lives themselves, dissipates.  It is replaced with a desire to create connections with others, and to strengthen the bonds that link us one to the other.  At the same time, we see that our individuality is our gift to the collective. It is one of the reasons we are here.  Our ego is then employed in the task of uncovering our uniqueness, finding and expressing who we really are.  The wisdom teachings and spiritual literature talks of ‘relinquishing the  ego’. I see this as a relinquishing of the mind – or, more specifically, the thoughts that come from the subconscious mind.  This mind (as distinct from the higher consciousness mind) is a remnant of the primitive ego, whose job was to keep us alive. The old tapes are still playing because the subconscious does not distinguish between the past and the future.  It operates in the now – playing scripts from past lives and from redundant episodes in this one, as if they were still relevant.  Our task is to let go of this mind, drop the thoughts and channel the ego’s energy into conscious creative self-expression and connection with other life forms – nature, animals, people.  We are here to create and to grow and evolve our consciousness and our ego, friend, foe, either, or, both,  is part of the package.   It’s all just a ride we are on – a cosmic ride. Well-seasoned egos, evolved egos are able to see ‘reality’ for the illusion it is, and to laugh at the seriousness with which we  take ourselves and our lives.   Don’t worry if you are not there yet, if life still feels scary and fear of not surviving looms too large. Rather, accept and allow yourself to be exactly where you are. Little by little, the bigger picture will make itself known and you will move out of survival consciousness. Your ego, have faith, is a work in progress. Decide to stop listening to the mind and its thoughts. Stand aside in your awareness and watch the game your ego is playing. See if you can smile at it.  And above all, every day, remember to enjoy the ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much ego?

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How much ego is left with you??  The question came to me recently from a young man in Germany.

“You don’t have to answer this question if it feels personal to you or it you don’t want,” he said.

“When you read spiritual books, most of them are written from somebody who gives you the impression that the author has already left the ego behind completely….”

And then he went on to ask more questions……

“I am interested in your story…… maybe other readers of your blog would also be interested?”

Thank you Johannes for your interest and just because you may be right, (I know I am always interested in the spiritual journeys of others) – here is  my response….blogged. 

 

How much ego is left with you? Jeepers, it’s more than difficult to be objective when it comes to oneself and the ego, but I’ll try.  I think my ego is probably stronger, or perhaps that should be healthier, now (at 52) than it ever was. !  Not very ‘spiritual’ right?  We’re told to ‘release the ego’ in much of the spiritual literature.  Then let me explain myself.  I am a Pisces Sun and generally, we Pisces Suns do not have particularly powerful egos (and then I immediately think of Rupert Murdoch and question that……BUT, I suspect much of his motivation comes as a compensatory mechanism – in other words, a fragile ego masquerading as a powerful one).   But of course I am much more than a Pisces Sun. I am the product of my parentage, my upbringing and my conditioning.  I am also a product of the trauma and wounding I sustained in former existences. I’m not alone there. Look at the bloody history of humankind on this planet. We have all suffered in the past. And we are all trying to heal (become whole) those wounds.

 As a child I felt too sensitive. I worried about things, didn’t sleep well, I cried too easily.  Coming home from my nana’s where I’d stayed over the school holidays, I would cry in bed, thinking of her all  by herself now, feeling, or imagining her pain – the pain of her aloneness. I’d cry about animals being hurt, or anyone being hurt.  I had six weeks in hospital (Pisces place) at the age of three, when a fishbone (Pisces thing) became lodged in my windpipe, necessitating two surgeries.  Apart from remembrances of the hole in my throat from the tracheotomy, cruel nurses telling me to ‘cough!’  as they shoved tubes down into the hole, my parents passing a doll into the oxygen tent, being wheeled to theatre and panicking as a mask came down over my nose and mouth – the overwhelmingly painful memory sees my mother walking away down the corridor, leaving me,  ‘visiting hour’ being over and screaming for her. Then they came with an injection.

 Naturally enough, I was a ‘mummy’s girl’ and ran away from kindergarten a year later, chasing her car down the road. I felt homesick to the point of tears whenever I was away from her and home.

Fragile – yes, you could say that.  As my evolutionary astrologer teacher Steven Forrest said, when summing up my approach to  life (gleaned from his reading of my natal chart) –  “Maximum trauma (the past) meets maximum sensitivity (the present).  You have lived this life like a deer in the headlights.”   Immobilised by fear, in other words;  living a memory of past trauma . With a Pisces South Node, exactly  opposed to Pluto and conjunct Chiron  (for those astrologers out there) and  a Pisces Sun, the picture of maximum sensitivity is not hard to see.

 So, that background to help connect the dots.  Ego, or our individuality, in astrology, is generally seen in the Sun sign and its position, though in evolutionary astrology, we look deeper. It feels to me, that Steven was right. So where is my ego now, in all of this?   As I said earlier, it feels stronger  at this age, than it once did. And by this I mean my sense of self feels stronger. I think this is largely a product of getting older. We become, especially after the Chiron Return at age 50, more sure of ourselves and what we want in life. We are less apologetic about what we are not, and less afraid to be who we are.  At the same time, weirdly, I feel that my sensitivity is as intact as it ever was. I still cry just as easily when I witness others’ pain, or feel it myself, and I still feel too much fear. I still experience  huge grief when I lose people I love – even temporarily – as in my kids leaving home. Death! Don’t even talk about it.  At times this grief is overwhelming – just as it was when my mother had to leave me, in the hands of those cruel nurses, all by myself,  little more than a baby.  But now I know this sensitivity IS who I am.  I have this Piscean sensitivity for a reason.   I believe all of us are embodying a very particular and unique energetic pattern (which we attempt to read in the natal chart), and the reason we are here has a lot to do with our choices in working (creating) with this energy pattern.  We are so unique it’s bizarre. But rather than celebrate our uniqueness and love ourselves for being who we are, we spend great chunks of our lives comparing ourselves to others. We feel less than. Less attractive, less talented, less in all sorts of ways. We can’t be happy and joy-full, when we are feeling less. Thus, we miss out on the love-filled experience life should be. We need to love ourselves first.   I’m still working on that one – I love my cats more than myself (!) 

 So Johannes, your question is an interesting one. I have explored the ‘spiritual’ side of life since my teenage years and here I am at this advanced age (joke) – and still I feel exactly the same inside, in terms of my feelings – which implies my ego is still fragile. I’ve never suffered from an over-inflated ego – rather the opposite has been my cross to bear – an under-functioning sense of self-worth.  (I’m not sure which is worse). The ebbs and flows of my sensitivities continue to dominate my life and I am reluctant to ‘put myself out there.’  At the same time, and this is paradoxical I realize, I do feel my ego is more resilient these days.  I think this is so because I am able to feel what I feel, to experience the intensity of my compassion and the pain of my sensitivity and at the same time to see it all in a larger way. I am able to stand a little aside – even in the middle of feeling excruciating emotional pain. If we can detach just a fraction, from whatever emotion we are experiencing, we know that our emotions are not who we are. They are moving through us, they are telling us something, opening our hearts and minds to an awareness – of our shared journey here, our interconnectedness, our common humanity. We experience our emotions in order to grow our awareness, our consciousness. I think it may be that simple.  Our egos are that part of us that cause us to feel separate. And it is in our separateness that we find our uniqueness.  Expressing our individuality and allowing ourselves to be who we are is how we develop healthy egos.   I don’t believe we are here to relinquish or squash our egos out of existence.   Living our uniqueness is one of the reasons we are here – to embody that utterly individual energy that is our essence.  As we step more fully into allowing ourselves to be who we are, to create as our one-off personality  would have us create, and to live unapologetically as who we are – we naturally discard all those fear-driven insecurities that make us feel less.  We don’t need to be anything other than who we are.  We don’t need to feel less. THIS, to me, is a healthy ego.   I certainly don’t feel I am ready to let go or surrender my ego. I don’t think I could even if I wanted to –because I’m still in the process of finding out who my ego wants me to be (yes, it’s taken a while).  I still feel fear, insecurity, low self-worth, I still measure and compare myself, I still feel I haven’t achieved what I might have. So I know my ego is not there with me yet. But more and more I don’t care about all of that.  I realize it doesn’t matter. I’m allowed to be, and I’m happy here, now, to be, just who I am – a work in progress. 

 I think I will leave Johannes’ other questions for another day…

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ego – so please do share, if you’d like to.

 

 

 

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I have loved, and I have been loved

And all the rest is just background music.

-Estelle Ramey

 

The heart rule we explored in the last chapter underscores a universal law – the past does NOT equal the future.  You have the power within you to create a life that is different from the one you have been living. This means, you need to shift your attention away from the past and put it into the power of now. Away from the background music and into the love!

If you are one who has cried, cursed, and lamented your past ad infinitum, given free reign to blame, regret, remorse, guilt, bitterness – then it is time to stay STOP! It is time to re-direct your life by refocusing.

 First you may need to engage in a little introspection. If you want to change your life and have relationships that are happy and enduring, you are going to do so by changing your thoughts.  Attention is everything. Where it goes, you go. Changing your thoughts means thinking about what you are thinking about! Catch yourself. Remember, what you are thinking is creating your reality. Therefore, you need to go to the root of what you are thinking and the energy you are sending out into the world.  What, for example, do you think of yourself?

 If we were told we were never good enough, useless, a waste of space, then we grow up believing that to be true. We then act out of that belief and draw to ourselves events, people and experiences that confirm our thoughts about ourselves. These are called pathogenic beliefs, meaning they are life destroying. The vital point is, change requires consciousness and consciousness requires us to examine our belief systems.  We must look at the patterns of our lives to be able to discern the beliefs that have created (and continue to create) our reality.

 Pathogenic beliefs that are left simmering under the surface of our consciousness eventually create havoc in our physical bodies. Disease and ill health are imbalances that come about through blockages. Beliefs create blockages.  We quarantine emotional and psychological pain in some body part – but always, the body is the last port of call.  Blockages first appear in our luminous body, or astral or emotional body. 

 Most of us are unconscious of the beliefs that are behind our real life dramas. Pathogenic beliefs are formed in childhood – although they are often evident in the birth chart, which means we came in with these patterns. Childhood events merely crystallize them, or become the prototypical events on which they are hung.  As we enter adulthood, relationships become the vehicle through which we revisit these pathogenic beliefs. Ultimately, the intent of meeting our painful memories (unconscious they may be) through our relationships, is positive. Oftentimes it is only when we meet our beliefs embodied in another person, that we see them for the first time. Our partners enact those split-off-and-relegated-to-the-shadow parts of ourselves that are running beneath the surface of our conscious minds. We cannot release them until we become acquainted with them.

 

The ‘shadow’, a term first coined by Carl Jung,  is that part of us which is unconscious and becomes the repository for aspects of our psyche which we have disowned. These could be painful experiences that as a young person we lacked the maturity to integrate at the time; or they can be characteristics which we do not accept or want to admit we possess. We assign them to the shadow – and then, inevitably, we wind up meeting them in the people which whom we form intimate relationships.  Remember, the intelligence that designed and runs the cosmos has an interest in you becoming whole (integrated). Healing your internal fractures and living more creatively and compassionately is becoming whole. We do this through ‘relating consciously’. In this state, we make conscious choices – rather than just act out our early recordings.

 “When I began seeing a therapist at age 19, he said, ‘Tell me about your mother and father.’ Well, that’s an original question from a therapist, I thought derisively. I learned that those relationships really do matter – not to blame but to understand, so that we are free to consider new choices.”   –Dean Ornish, Love & Survival, 138.

Becoming conscious of our beliefs then, is key to change. As we do, we are given the opportunity to become more intimate with ourselves – and then, with others.

 Some people are pathologically unacquainted with themselves. We all know these people. They do the blame thing quite happily – and for obvious reasons. As long as they are blaming others, their emotional energy is all used up. It saves them having to experience the angst of looking into themselves, at their part in things.  It’s always ‘out there’, the other person’s fault. It can be a very frightening thing to confront the shadow and these people are generally not very courageous.

 These are the types (not reading this blog – since they are not generally open to consciousness raising material), who suffer the most in life. They are victims of their own lack of awareness. You are not one of those people!

 So, while the past does not equal the future, it can be valuable and worthwhile to spiral back around to it, in order to raise yourself to the next level. Acknowledge to yourself that you – and your partner, or prospective partner – have many buttons from past pain, and they are just waiting to be pressed. Enter into the past in a spirit of exploration and curiosity, with the intent of becoming more aware of what really drives you. Give up playing and re-playing the victim role. It’s old energy.

 Focusing exclusively on what you did or didn’t do – or on what was done or not done to you, is only going to bring you more of the same. This is because we attract to ourselves exactly what we think about. Scary! But this is how our beliefs create our reality. We give attention to our ideas of what constitutes ‘reality’ and then get to live out those thoughts in the flesh.  If our beliefs are not life affirming, we can find ourselves playing a tragic role, as victim, abused or abuser – one that we have no idea we scripted ourselves!  Who needs that??

 

…(to be continued)….