Ego is the product of the mind which is choosing to cultivate it. But we are more than ego; we are consciousness itself. Descartes acknowledges this with his famous existentialist mantra: I think, therefore I am. Ego is intended to be our starting point; far from being all of who we are. Ego is the lowest level of consciousness. We need simply keep ‘me’ in proper perspective for the mind to keep the gate opened to our higher consciousness, God-consciousness, and to revitalize the mind and spirit. God-consciousness is not just consciousness of good and evil, it is consciousness of good and evil in their proper balance. Non-egoic consciousness is God-consciousness and is, therefore, primary. Ego comes about in precisely the opposite manner. Because the non-ego is our natural state of consciousness, upon becoming aware of anything at all, we first become aware of what is. At some later juncture, we learn that there is some independence existing between us and the world we are living in. So, first we become aware of everything; after which we become self-aware. Self-awareness is ego territory. Ego is a secondary consciousness because we are first aware of what is; an awareness which includes, but is not limited to, the ego. It is through cultivating non-egoic consciousness we neutralize the interference ego is running against the messaging that occurs between the Divine and the soul/mind. Ego seeks even to control this messaging, because it does not understand it – how silly. How trademark egoic.
It is by cultivating non-egoic consciousness that we become open to the positive, soul-nourishing energies of life. An egoic soul sheath readily permits negative energies to pass across it, into and out of the soul, while it generates resistance to the passage of positive energies. The non-egoic preferencing for knowledge and the awareness of what is, is the key to our development as human individuals, and by extension, the fruitful development of human societies. If we choose to fully cultivate non-egoic consciousness, we will remove the only barrier between us and the power and awareness of the Divine/God/the Universe; a barrier we have built for ourselves. When we choose ego, we forfeit this ‘higher’ awareness. We are giving away what we already have. What we leave ourselves with, is the world created by ego. That is not the world God created, nor is it the one we would want to live in. It is a world of scarcity, violence, fear, distrust, and uncertainty. Very sadly, it is the one we are living in.
Everyone wants to feel happy. Everyone wants to feel happy all of the time; because ‘happy’ feels good. ‘Happiness,’ is a mental attitude; a state of being. It allows one to perceive goodness where others cannot. ‘Happiness’ is also a feeling. Attitude is one thing – feeling, quite another. Feelings, happy or otherwise, are powerful enticement to the ego; for reasons not the least of which is emotions are the creation of ego. The ego’s preoccupation with itself is beyond remedy, by nature. It cannot exceed its purpose; however the mind can still conscript the ego to ‘oversee’ tasks for which the ego is not designed, yet too willing to accept. It is, quite simply, the dominance of ego over the mind, or more precisely, our mind’s acquiescence to ego, that is preventing people from being happy. Ego will confuse immediate satisfaction for happiness because of its enslavement to feeling. It follows that the ego-bound mind is also a slave to sensation. It is upon this basis the ego-bound mind is performing its gatekeeping duties. Ego puts up a shield to emanations of happiness that have no potential for immediate self-gratification. Joy over someone else’s good fortune, for example, is an energy ego will not allow in, though it could not do the mind and soul anything but good if it did.
Happiness feels good and we all want to feel it; but there are only so many things in life that can appeal in this way to the ego. Our choices are limited because ego limits our choices. That is how we come to be oblivious to that which life freely offers us. Instead we are predisposed to choosing an inferior something else. The ego craves immediate satisfaction and the mind will choose this, though it knows dissatisfaction follows close behind. The trough of dissatisfaction is often deeper than the peak of satisfaction is high. The sensory cycle of satisfaction – dissatisfaction cannot lead to a general state of happiness; because ‘happiness’ is an attitude, whereas ‘sensation’ is a reaction determined by attitude. Perceiving the world through the lens of ego can lead, ultimately, only to misery.
Drug and alcohol addictions are the direct result of the value which ego places on easy and immediate satisfaction. The good feeling passes quickly, and we re-administer our ‘poison of choice,’ over and over again, in ever-increasing amounts. We are trying to reproduce the effects that arise from having a non-egoic attitude; however, without expending the effort or taking the time to cultivate it. Ego is an attribute of consciousness, but represents only a very small part of the now; it defines our particular locus, our place, within it. Only the mind possesses the capability to be fully conscious in the now; the mind is who you are. The ego cannot be trusted to operate ‘the mind’s gate’ anymore than the fox can be trusted to mind the henhouse. Try as either may, they will inevitably revert and act true to their actual natures.
Ego obliges us to pay a high price for the ‘service’ it provides. Food addictions provide momentary relief but compromise our health; alcohol relaxes us, but leaves us a headache and perhaps some not-so-fond memories behind. TV provides easy distraction from our daily cares, but does much of the ‘thinking’ for us; allowing our cognitive abilities to atrophy.[i] The reactionary behaviour of ego prevents the mind from considering the downside of pending choices. It keeps the mind focused on the quick-fix. As we continue with our addictions, ego is oblivious to our steady spiralling downward- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. As time goes on, the hole ego digs for us gets deeper; it is moving us further away from the very joy we all seek and which is our goal and purpose in life.
The physical body is strengthened by controlled, as opposed to reactive, physical exertion and repetition; likewise the mind is strengthened by non-reactive cognitive processes, such as reasoning, evaluating, and choosing. The mind that continues to exert itself in a controlled, progressive fashion against ego’s dominance, will eventually strengthen against it. You will find yourself more proactive, and less reactive. Your attitude of peacefulness will become progressively less fragile. You will experience an enhanced awareness of the goodness which is in continuous emanation. Because you are now open to them, the good feelings will come in a steady stream.
While in non-egoic mode, ‘self-confidence’ is never a factor in what you say and do, because your focus is fully on doing. Your attention is not, as when ego is involved, divided between the doing and the anxiety you are feeling with respect to how others may be judging your doing. You are not afraid to act, because you are acting out of concern for something other than self. If what you have done turns out to be a mistake, you will quickly get past any feelings of sorrow, guilt, or defensiveness and get on with the process of rectifying the error and learning what you can from the experience. You would be devoting your full attention to this situation, and doing things better the next time.
Being true to who you are is easy in non-egoic mode, because you are as focused on the business at hand, as an apple tree is with growing its apples. The apple tree does not have to strive to be an apple tree; neither need you strive to be what you truly are. Be what you are and you will produce your own fruit as effortlessly, and as truly, as the apple tree bears its apples. This is how God intended things to be. Do not allow yourself to become distracted with being this, or being that.
What happens to others never affects you as much as if had happened to you, or to someone close to you. Emotional tiering is a phenomenon only the ego can sustain, because the ingredients of tiering – self-absorbance, judgement, and separation – are ego’s defining attributes. It is only ego that can cry over the loss of its own child and not be moved to tears over the loss of a child killed in a Syrian chemical attack; or the picture of a soldier carrying the lifeless body of a Syrian child who drowned during his family’s escape from the violence of their country’s civil war – so much for the promise of joyful hope each newborn child naturally brings to the world. The ego-bound world is betraying its children. The free mind of the non-ego will be moved to tears and a profound sadness, followed by an indomitable resolve to act…
The ego is by nature resistant to any control but its own; but we know from the experience of raising and educating children that the ego can be trained to self-manage. There are things the ego is simply not equipped to understand the ‘why’ of, and in this regard it is especially crucial that we parents lead by example; relying on coercive measures as little as possible. Coercion results in entrenchment. Coercion must be used with exceeding rarity, else the child becomes ‘hardened,’ or cultivates a habit of playing the part rather than being the part. The child could internalize their emotions; inevitably, after a time, some sort of social/psychological pathology will result.
Discuss the issue at hand with the child; but not for too long. Explain what would likely happen, if they got or did what they wanted – say, stay up for the late show on a school night. If the child continues resisting, allow them to do what it is they want, and to experience the consequences – within reason and without endangering the child. If, for example, the child wants to stay up late the night before their early-morning-little-league hockey game; tell them what it will be like for them in the morning if you were to say ‘yes.’ If they insist on staying up, let them; then make sure they are up in the morning and on the ice no matter how much they complain.
Whatever you do, do not reverse your stand after the child realizes their mistake. It is very hard, but you simply must not. My mother would often give in to me, when I acted up, partly because she had such a soft spot for children, and partly because she wanted us to have all the joy she did not have as a child. On one occasion, I had gone too far, even for her. She had had enough, and I was not allowed to stay up and watch a playoff hockey game between Toronto and Chicago. I wailed from behind my bedroom door until I fell asleep. Knowing her, she was probably out there in the rec-room watching the game and wiping a tear or two from her eye. It was very hard for her not to give in; but it was one of the best things she could ever have done for me.
Non-egoic consciousness is, rather, one side of the duality of consciousness existing in each of us. It is the extension of awareness beyond the subjective, into the objective. As we extend our awareness further beyond ego we become more mindful, more aware, more present. We become better acquainted with our 3rd Emanation surroundings, our 2nd Emanation surroundings, and of the Prime Emanation. There is nothing other-worldly about any of this. The 1st and 2nd Emanations are as much a part of our surroundings as the 3rd Emanation world is. There is no need to brainwash ourselves into believing what we are told, or have doubts about: for the mind that is completely unburdened by ego, there is only knowing. As we cultivate non-egoic consciousness, the effects of ego diminish and our minds will continue to open. Our perceptions will be less affected by what we desire, or are afraid of seeing; becoming truer to what is.
The further we extend our consciousness beyond the subjective, the closer we will be to reconciling ourselves, our actions, and our world, with God. The more our minds are open, the closer we come to knowing what is on God’s Mind.
The promotion of appearance over reality informs every major human activity – from people putting on makeup, to businesses and politicians putting on people. We devote much of our time and resources to appearances because the reality falls woefully short of the expectations we have of other people, and that other people have of us.
We did not create the world, or other people; nevertheless, ego will want to control even that which it did not create, and knows little about. This is not actually possible, and so the ego has no choice but to substitute a reality of its own creation for the one that exists. In order to make this ‘work,’ we must convince ourselves and everyone else, that our version is the real thing. That is doomed to failure because other people have egos, and will be, to some degree, promoting their own ‘realities.’ Then there is the reality per se…
Upholding appearances is the de facto mode of operation for governments and corporations, not just people. Appearance v. Reality is a common motif in Shakespeare, and in the world’s ancient classics.
What else but ego can explain our ready acceptance of the chicanery we are often fed by our political and business leaders? How is it that we allow our politicians at election time to buy our votes for a few dollars in tax-cuts? Why do we accept budget-balancing as a heroic achievement, in and of itself, without having considered the egregious social and humanitarian evils we render ourselves complicit in: poverty, pollution, the enfeebling of our democratic institutions, and of our future?
Ego is reactive and always in search of immediate satisfaction, redress –you name it. So long as our politicians are saying what the ego wants to hear, we will vote for them. We might notice the people we elect to serve and to lead in the House of Commons are behaving more like salespeople. The Harper Conservatives, to use a modern example, provided Canadians daily examples of how deeply committed they were to selling us a bill of goods; rather than to providing us with good bills. The current government, led by Justin Trudeau, does not appear to be this way.
[i]There are exceptions to this on television, however: Steve Paikin’s, The Agenda, among others.