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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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