On Being – Chapter II – Talking About Ourselves (part V)

Standard

The Ego and the Development of the Child – Mind

I believe the evolution of consciousness begins at conception. At the point where the child-to-be-born becomes aware of anything at all, it is simultaneously aware of what is within itself and what is outside itself – only it does not yet know the difference.

The fetus begins to move, and to feel itself move. It becomes occupied with the movement of its legs and arms, its fingers and toes. It also feels movement in the form of vibrations coming from the outside. Eventually it will realize that there is a world out there. For the moment, the world it knows is the one inside the placenta. That the unborn child is aware of and able to react to external stimuli is observable in its response to sounds originating from outside. At this stage in our development, we find everything interesting; this might be music or speech, or something other; regardless , the unborn individual is fully ‘present’ and fully engaged – in other words ‘fully conscious.’ It will pre-empt its current tack and pause to listen. It is, in fact, the I AM that ‘hears’ the new sound, and makes the decision to direct It’s (the mind’s) focus toward the new sound.

What I infer from this is that we begin life with a ‘super-consciousness’ perfectly apportioned with egoic and non-egoic components in their proper measure. It is the mind which is responsible for maintaining this balance. If the mind becomes overly preoccupied with its inner doings – absorbed in its own thoughts -a structural imbalance occurs, and its ability to improve itself, or its environment, is seriously compromised.

Once born, the child-mind’s functions are in full swing. The child-mind’s general inclination toward non-egoic consciousness is evidenced by the accelerated pace (relative to that of adults) in which it acquires new knowledge. At this point, the child-mind is fully engaged, aware, truly conscious. As the child grows up, the child-mind is assailed on all fronts by the processes of socialization. Depending upon the quality and intensity of these forces, and individual resilience, some individuals will navigate the development from child to adult better than others.

When the child reaches school-age the process of institutionalized socialization begins. This is something very different from the family kind. The child will encounter ridicule (aka ‘bullying’) precisely at the time it is reaching out to others in the world; not only to learn about  others, but to learn about itself. It will tend to take the world as honest, since as a child, that is all it knows. The danger of bullying, is not that there is any truth in it; but rather that the innocent child-mind will accept it as true. The child will begin to see its true self (which, as a child, it is always true to) as inferior, and seek to become something other than what it is. It is no more possible for the human individual to be other than what it is, than for an apple tree to provide the squirrels with acorns. And why should it? As trees, both are of equal value.

The child-mind now experiences conflict and uncertainty because, in the extra-familial socialization process, the game board and rules are changed. The child-mind learns to supress its I AM consciousness, as this will only invite more trouble. The ego positions itself as the child’s best friend, and is now well on its way to becoming the sort of citizen that is acceptable in an ego-burdened society.

It is the misguided application of socialization which is responsible for the child-mind’s developing a predominately ego-conscious, reactionary mindset. For this, it is the ego of governments which bears primary responsibility (more these days than ever before in Canadian history). Socialization is misguided when governments seek to make uniform that in which variability and independence are inherent qualities. The damage is greatly compounded by the taking for granted of the great gift which Nature and God have given us. The gift is that we are incomparably more the same than we are different. Socialization is misguided when it does not develop and build upon the things in which we are inherently similar.

Making a lot out of little, while making little of a lot, is trademark egoic. Ego always insists on making “mountains out of molehills.” It makes much ado of the imperfections of others, while being saintly-tolerant of its own.

So long as the ego predominates our social mentality, the cognitive and spiritual development of society’s members will be impaired, twisted  – even halted. Society is the farmer who is responsible to provide an environment which is propitious for growing strong, healthy trees; trees which will one day bear good fruit. The key to the farmer’s success lay in the quality of his stewardship. The gauge of his success is the quality of the fruit his trees will one day bear as adults and of the seeds they produce for the next generation.

It is this way for all living things.

 

The ego of Institutions of Faith

A collective of individual egos comprises an ego of its own.

Recently, I was talking with a relative who is a by-the-book Christian. Invariably, the topic gets round to who will be ‘saved,’ and who will not be. This person cannot be blamed for repeating what he is hearing every day, all day, on evangelistic radio and TV. This person believes everyone, including the adherents to other versions of Christianity, will go to hell if they are not saved. By ‘saved,’ he means you follow the Christian faith the exact same way he does, interpret the Judaeo-Christian scripture in the way he interprets it; which is in the way he is being programmed to[i], everyday, all-day, by the radio evangelists.

One day he told me, it is incumbent upon all true Christians to correct the thinking of the Moslems and of all others who do not acknowledge Jesus as God,” I nearly lost it. It is patently not incumbent upon anyone of us to correct the thinking of others in matters of Faith;  that is entirely between the individual and God. There are no exceptions.

I wonder, what could he have meant when he said, each of us must “accept Jesus as his/her personal saviour?” Clearly, “personal” meant something more than “of, or relating to the person,” because someone besides the two principals in this relationship, and existing outside of it, is dictating to the person in this person-God relationship how it should be. Think about this for a moment. I wonder if there are not times God wonders, “I don’t remember saying that….” And then wondering if He/She isn’t getting senile.

Different becomes wrong only when it is ego doing the translating. Ego abhors diversity, even though diversity is, by all the evidence, a staple operative in the Divine’s creation strategy. Only ego is able to find something wrong in the way others choose to worship God; and find nothing wrong in doing lethal violence to those who worship God in a way different from theirs.

Quite evidently, Institutional Faith – in all of its forms, is as susceptible to ego as individuals are. No Faith institution can be ego-free if its leaders and members are not. All Faiths depart from their own teachings and aspirations if they condemn others for what others believe. Condemnation and judgement remain common among people who worship a man that said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Condemnation is a feature of ego’s obsession with control; the selectivity of facts when making its case, is another.

 

It is wonderful when people of different Faiths gather and compare notes; they learn much from one another, and do not feel obliged to convert or be converted. This is the way of non-ego. Non-ego naturally recognizes and respects that what others believe in their heart of hearts is between them and God (i.e., personal) and to respect their beliefs; that Truth, in all its beauty, can only be transmitted uncorrupted if it goes straight from God to the person; that anything one tries to explain about God will be compromised to the extent their ego and their institution’s ego plays a role in both the conveyance and the reception of the spiritual message; and because no one person is able to communicate in its entirety, the Mind of God, save for God Him/Herself.

Can you imagine any one person being able to speak for each and every other person living on his street? No one can do that. Each person on the street must speak for themselves. It must be the same with God. Only God is able to speak for God, and perfectly communicate the perfect truth. What any living individual understands of the perfect truth will involve some departure from the perfect truth. No human individual can know the whole truth, because none of us living have experienced everything there is in the universe to experience, nor may any of us attain a perfect and enduring non-egoic consciousness in our 3rd Emanation tenure. Perfect, in this sense, implies being completely and unremittingly free of egoic modes of thinking – which is impossible for any of us. What is possible, is making the decision to direct the mind’s attention outward and away from ego, and to watch out for when ego is trying to assert control upon things over which it has no say. What one has to do is easy; the fact one must do this all the time is the hard part. It is impossible to be perfect, even in this. Only the ego can imagine that perfection is possible; and that it goes without saying, that it is the standard of perfection.

None living have experienced death, so what would qualify any of us to be experts on what happens after we die? What anyone says about the subject should be taken with a grain of salt. It is the Divine, not the ego, that is able to discern truth from untruth. And we may only understand the Divine’s message perfectly, if we are perfectly non-egoic. Even a moment’s perfect knowledge may be unattainable to us while we are resident in the 3rd Emanation.

With all my heart, I encourage you to leave judgement to God, and cultivate respect and tolerance for the differences in others, because no one knows everything; but the totality of human knowledge, when taking into account the contribution of every soul that has ever lived, must be great indeed.

Working with, for, and not against one another, is our only hope for a viable future.

One may reach the city of Toronto by taking any one of a number of roads. Although the starting point and direction can differ, one’s chosen path must have a certain quality or it will never permit you to arrive at your destination: it must lead, continuous and unbroken, to the city. Reaching God is comparable with driving to Toronto. Institutions of faith are the roads humans avail themselves of to reach God. Like roads, institutions of faith must have certain qualities or they are not useful as institutions of faith. To wit: love, service, honesty, non-violence, and the protection of the vulnerable from the strong.

The fact that people worship eclipses any concern over how people worship.

 

Ego Cannot Tolerate Diversity Among Institutions of Faith

The ego of Faith institutions has been responsible for the most shameful exhibits of violence in all history. Christian fought with Jew, Jew with Moslem, Moslem with Hindu, for millennia, over Faith, though they share the same fundamental tenets – not to mention worship the same God – you know, the One who Created us.

Violence done in God’s name, contravenes God’s Message, and therefore, departs from God’s Will and Purpose. There are no exceptions.

Since one God – one Creator is responsible for all of the variety of the universe, and because diversification appears to be a fundamental operative in God’s creation strategy, the notion of any one Faith having absolute authority is absurd. It is precisely diversity in worship that is fulfilling mankind’s relationship with the Creator. Diversity is bringing us all closer to reconciliation with God; whereas it is the elements of exclusivity in various faith doctrines that is holding us back. Since no Faith, on its own, is able to represent the fullness of God, the nearest we can come to full knowledge of God is through the respective contributions of the world’s religions, taken together. With respect to full knowledge, the differences among Faiths are additive, not mutually exclusive.

A relation of mine enjoys listening to Bill Gaither – who sings the Lord’s praises in a style attractive to the octogenarian crowd. Being in his eighties, this style of music has great appeal for him. One time, I agreed to sit and listen to Bill Gaither with him, if he would sit and listen to Led Zeppelin with me. “No,” he says, “those guys are into drugs and things of the devil.” I replied that anyone who performs and creates at that level cannot be into much of anything besides music, and that the message in many of Led Zeppelin’s songs is as spiritual as Bill Gaither’s. My relative could accept none of this, yet, how is it possible for anyone with a paucity of Spirit to have written songs like Stairway to Heaven and Kashmir?

Clearly, what is motivating the relative to accept the message in Bill Gaither’s music while rejecting the message in Led Zeppelin’s, is the manner in which God’s message is being expressed. The difference is in form (the surface), not in content (the message). The obvious differences are superficial; the deeper one delves, the less we become conscious of differences, and the more we become conscious of the deeper meanings; the closer we get to the truth, to each other, and to the Creator. It will be extraordinarily difficult to get to this point if our spiritual leaders, whom we trust to speak on God’s behalf, preach anything other than other than inclusiveness and profound respect for all other faiths.

Intolerance among peoples and faiths have motivated the most terrible and violent crimes of “righteous” judgment. In truth, no war of faith is justified because all faiths prohibit killing.

Society’s Ego

The ego’s moral and ethical standards are based on emotion, not reason. It only knows what it wants, and what it does not want; and is creating ‘standards’ to reflect this. The ego of society is partly a reflection of the egos of their members, with a disproportionate amount of influence garnered by society’s wealthier members. Egos can collaborate, but only to the extent which, and for as long as, the self-interest of the respective parties is met. Societal ego is the reason why democracies need leaders, charters, constitutions, and institutional oversight. The procedural requirements of individual democratic societies to promote cohesiveness and self-actualization among its members are also needed to promote cohesion among the societies that make up our world. That is why the world needs a United Nations with the power to protect human rights, regulate multinational corporations (have the power to establish globalized tax rates, for example), monitor and regulate international money flows, and a military under a peacekeeping mandate to intervene in inter- and intra-national wars.

Societies are obliged to buffer out the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous public opinion’ in order to sustain a deliberate, overall forward progress. If government, law, and mores were to change in lockstep with public opinion, societal and national progress would be a case of two steps forward, one step back – and this is the optimistic scenario.[ii] But leaders, too, have egos, and  we cannot exclusively rely on them to do what is best, especially at the times we most need them to: the times when we voters, as a group, happen to land on the wrong side of an issue with important, long term consequences.[iii] When leaders act contrary to public opinion, they risk not being re-elected. The Charter and Constitution help to keep wayward, ‘voter market-driven’ leaders and their policies in abeyance, but even they have imperfections; readily exploited by powerful private interests with self-serving agendas, and the money to bankroll their aims through the courts. The visionaries of Canada’s past, starting with Sir John A., anticipated this and provided several institutional checks and balances to keep Canada on the rails.

The designers of Canada’s constitutional framework chose a bicameral system of government, which features an elected House of Commons and a non-elected Senate. The Senate is able to provide a check on our elected representatives, precisely because senators are not elected. If its members are of high personal integrity, and if all ties to their former political associations are cut the moment they become Senators, then the Senate is an institutional check Canadians can count on. The current attack on the Senate is nothing more than political opportunism: the Harper Conservatives are exploiting the malfeasances of a few Senators in order to garner public support for its abolition. Whatever the Conservatives’ public reasons are, the truth is the Senate imposes a hurdle which these reactionary, knee-jerk, pathologically ego-bound politicians do not want in their way. If they could, the Conservatives would do away with yet another institutional check -our judiciary. Since they cannot do that, they are passing laws which will incorporate ministerial discretion and mandatory sentencing in an attempt to limit the power of judges. They are simultaneously attacking Canada’s Fourth Estate media: commercializing and politicizing it as much as possible, to manipulate public opinion into support of government policy. The Conservatives, and the private interests they represent, are not succeeding here in Canada; as the October 2016 federal election clearly indicates. If they ever do, the Canada we know and love, the one past generations of young Canadians died for, is lost.

We voters have egos, and ego is what politicians play upon at election time. How often has something seemed appealing at first, but, upon further reflection becomes less appealing, even undesirable? We have all had this experience; that is why mother’s advice is to “always think twice.” Our egos speak loudest and first; but it is our minds, guided by our hearts (aka ‘rationality’), that give us the chance to re-think, re-evaluate, and ultimately do what is best for us, and for others. That is why it is important for us voters to spend time in quiet and deliberate reflection upon what the various political parties are saying, and also upon what they are not saying.

The current state of humanity is echoed in how societies are structured. The root source of dysfunction in both is ego. Societies are, in their essential natures, cooperative. It is out of the cooperation and collaboration among societal members that societies derive strength and viability. The greater the cooperation, the stronger the society. The greater the division, the weaker the society. Ego is the source of separation and division; while in unity, there is strength. The more of a factor ego is in how we relate to our country and to one another, the weaker our social fabric becomes.

If any disparity exists between what a society offers and what its members’ need, it is because of ego. Economic polarization, social anxiety, the dearth of developmental opportunities for many young children, teens, and adults – these are symptomatic of a society in which ego is running the show. Paralleling the entrenchment of such social pathologies, at times even inspiring them, is the evolution of a legal system that is become decipherable only to lawyers; one in which people and corporations with enough money to purchase high-powered legal expertise, simply invent new ways to get around or use to their advantage.

Examples of Extreme Societal Ego and How the Media Plays a Role

How can society allow a child-murderer any opportunity for a normal life? A man who murdered his own children now receives supervised forays away from incarceration. Is our society morphing into the Canadian version of the one satirized in A Clockwork Orange? Have we become too soft on violent crime, or have we become more enlightened? Society is reluctant to punish anyone who was not ‘in control’ of their senses at the time they committed their crime. This is prima facie laudable, but forgiveness for violent crime against innocent and defenseless souls may be an admirable quality of the relationships which form among souls, and between souls and the Great Soul, but it is not useful in a social context. Violence against defenseless people is a predatory and cowardly act. It is patently anti-social. The only solution is to permanently isolate the perpetrators from general society. They should live out their natural lives in the company of those who have also done violence to innocent and defenseless men, women, or children. They may participate in prison society, such as it is, and they may have the opportunity to become productive members of that society and to do penance, until the end of their ‘natural’ lives, for all of the opportunities they denied their victims. Then, and only then, is forgiveness on the table: involving the spirits of the violator, the victim, and God.

One of the most heinous and violent crimes in 2012 was perpetrated upon a 30-something year-old Chinese national, in Quebec. The murderer savagely attacked his victim, who was vulnerable and could not defend himself. The murderer then dismembered this poor young man and mailed his body parts to various institutions and individuals across Canada.

In reporting this case, the media juxtaposed the murderer’s modelling pictures with textual descriptions of his cowardly and violent actions. Perhaps an entrepreneurial sort had perceived market value in this terrible and tragic story. The media reporting occasionally turns monsters like these into celebrities, although this is not their intent; nevertheless, somewhere, some lonely, angry person is teetering on the edge and receiving some perverse form of inspiration from reading or watching the news coverage. The media may unwittingly be providing pathological malcontents with ideas on how they too might make a name for themselves.

Any media claims to freedom of speech are nothing other than egoic if, for them, their right to report the news is more important for them than the right of individuals to be safe.

‘If it bleeds, it leads…’ so goes the old adage; but what if the leading is helping to cause more bleeding?

Apart from a very brief and generalized description of what was done to the victims, the perpetrators name, modelling pictures, and specific details of what they did, should never reach the public. Why are these details necessary? The victim is no less dead, and the crime no less egregious, regardless of how detailed the report is; by limiting the details, we are providing less fodder for potential copycats.[iv]

What the media might focus on is the lives of those already convicted and imprisoned. Their stories should be replete with details of the ardours of incarceration; perhaps these will discourage others from committing these crimes and encourage them to get help instead. Whatever we may dream up in the way of an effective deterrent, it must be something that will resonate with the ego, because only a pathologically self-absorbed, ego-bound individual could possibly think of doing such terrible things, in the first place.

People akin to the monster who murdered poor little Tory Stafford must have a real sense of what is in store for them when they get caught – and they will get caught. They must imagine life in prison to be something they could not bear; perhaps leading them to seek help before they hurt a child.

 

 

The ego, whether individual or institutional, is reactionary, selfish, and limited. Media-ego will juxtapose a murderer’s good looks and charm with descriptions of their diabolical conduct – thereby creating the ‘spice’ that helps to sell copies. It will not consider that morally, spiritually, or mentally dysfunctional people could elevate these murderers to rock star status because of the disjunctive associations they see forged in the media.

 

 

 

[i] I refer the reader to George Lakoff’s The Political Mind. How the political parties structure their messaging is the subject of the book. Mr. Lakoff discusses the science of framing the political debate; the idea being, the party who is able to set the issues during the writ period, can program the voter to respond positively to their party’s stand, and in the same breath, respond negatively to the positions of the other parties. The radio-evangelists use the same technique – repeat the same message over and over, and the brain will hardwire some neuron connections so that you will respond to the same stimulus in exactly the same way, time and time again.

[ii] Witness the 19 October 2015 result, after having given the Harper Conservatives (those guys who replaced Canada’s Progressive Conservative party) a majority in 2011.

[iii] The Canadian Senate has earned its salt when performing its role as Sir John A.’s ‘chamber of sober second thought.’ There is nothing to change but to mimic what Justin Trudeau et al have already done when they cut all party links to Liberals now working in the Senate. The PM nearing the end of his or her tenure may still pick senators; only from now on, when one becomes a senator, one must resign one’s party membership.

[iv] I have heard that people who suicide by jumping in front of a subway train goes often unreported. The idea, I was told, was to avoid giving ideas to other potential suicides. That is very good thinking. What I am suggesting here is that the media might consider expanding their self-regulation to include child-murderers, serial-killers, rape-murders, and the like.