It is a new day. “Hi, V. Listening to a speaker this morning I had a small revelation. Perhaps you could help me elaborate on it.”
“I’ll be interested to hear what it is.”
“Well, it’s fairly unformed, but I’d like to try talking it through. The speaker was mentioning ‘outward gratification’. The words made me stop and notice. I sensed them as a kind of oxymoron; ‘outward’ seemed the opposite direction from gratification. Satisfaction, fulfillment—whatever—is more an inward function. In addition, this seems to be part of the confusion we have between doing and being.”
She asks, “Explain that last point a little more.”
“Doing’ is outward and ‘being’ is inward. Ego tries to maintain itself through doing things and having things. The soul, by contrast, places being first and knows that all else comes as a result of that—that all action and creation of forms derives from presence. Ego will never be satisfied for long. What it ‘does’ doesn’t last, if it has no traction in being; forms come and go. When ego is looking for fulfillment in forms, it will inevitably be disappointed. That’s what I would call ‘looking outside for gratification’.”
V answers, “I agree, basically. However, our being does encompass everything—inner and outer. The soul desires both outward, form experience and inward, formless realization. Though you didn’t say it this way, you implied the ego’s actual fear of the inner experience. It does not want to be brought into contact with the soul’s world.”
“Why would that be?” I interrupt. “Why can’t the ego get along with the soul?”
“Hah, a very good question. It has to do with fear, of course, and delusion. The ego is not comfortable with its own existence; it senses it is at great risk in the whole process of awakening. Inner depth of being frightens it intensely. It wants to stay on the surface of experience, manipulating the past and the future mental constructs. They have no depth; they only spread thinly out onto the veneer of time. It knows that the living moment is a ‘dangerous’ portal into the inner reaches of authentic being, where it might just be extinguished. Ego has an investment in staying superficial and not being authentic.”
“OK. I get that, but why can’t ego be retrained to accept authenticity and reality—and depth?”
“It can be. But what happens in that training is that the ego eventually becomes so transparent as not to exist anymore. It dissolves into the soul presence. To the ego, that looks like death, not just transparency.”
“Ah, back to my favorite subject—finding death!” I suddenly wonder, “Excuse me, but what good would ego even be if it were transparent? What would a transparent ego be like? What would it do?”
V smiles. “It would still be the persona, the ‘sound mask’ for the soul—a mouthpiece, if you will. That is its pure function. The pure form of ego, or Ego, as some philosophers have written it, simply means ‘identity’, the face of ‘I am’. It is the mechanism through which selfhood comes into incarnation. The mistake little ‘ego’ makes is to assume the mask—the surface—is all that is. Once ego realizes its natural transparency and becomes conscious to the soul depth, the illusion of surface separation evaporates. The presence of Oneness invades the form. Everything changes.”
“I see.” I murmur. “But, V, surely ego hears us talking about all this. Why doesn’t it also hear that there is a way to get along and cooperate with the awakening?”
“The ego isn’t very bright, to be blunt. It was never designed to be fully conscious; its function evolved as a protective system and a sounding board; its aim was to ground the individuality into form and time—with only a surface interface into consciousness. Ego can grasp what we’re talking about, but always in a shallow, ‘formal’ way. That is its nature.
“Ego hears we are focusing on something called the Life of Source, yes. What it sees, however, is not clear. True Life exists always in the moment. That is distant and frightening territory to the ego—a place out of time and form. Ego’s ‘present’ is the narrow bridge linking before and after, then and there—never quite here. The Now, by comparison, is immeasurably wide.”
I interject, “Life exists in the moment! Does that mean that ‘death’ does not?”
“Life and death are not opposites. Death exists everywhere in presence—in time and beyond it. But you have an interesting question. Are you alive in the past? Are you alive in the future? I submit that you are not. These conceptual conditions do not really exist. Therefore, you are not alive next year or tomorrow. You are not alive a year ago or yesterday—not even a minute ago. You are already dead in every timeframe, to be precise. Only now do you truly live!”
I gasp. “That’s a revelation to me. I’m going to have to ponder this idea—a seed-link, for sure: I’m already dead in the past and future!”
V resumes, “Life and death generate a presence that is infinitely finer than form. Ego does not understand such fineness and formlessness; it does not accept that it might have access to these realms. Ego’s first reaction in this case is defense against what it does not know.”
I say, “Surely ego can understand that it is alive by virtue of Life.”
“In a rudimentary way, yes. But its attention is always re-oriented toward the superficial. It only wants to see the material qualities of Life, not the still, transcendent connection to Source. Ego is actually scared to death of Life as it really is. Therefore, it resists and tries to divert your attention and keep you from exploring the depths. That is to say, it tries to turn you back to ‘outward’ gratification. It wants to pull you away from the Now, into the past or future—outside the moment.”
“Yes,” I muse. “I can understand that ‘outward gratification’ is much more concrete and manageable—for it.”
“The ego wants ‘immediate gratification’, by which it means the very near ‘future’, not the present. To the senses and the mind, outward satisfaction seems to be more real, while deeper, authentic gratification seems elusive and insubstantial. Ego can’t hope to touch or grasp or control it!”
“So, tell me. How can we persuade the ego that it’s all right to be in the moment—and to dissolve into the soul?”
“I will remind you that ‘that which stands in the way is the way’. The ego can be persuaded that it is itself ‘the way’—by virtue of its being ‘in the way’. Let me state it plainly, so the ego may hear: ‘The ego is the way to awakening.’”
I shake my head. “Now that’s a statement! Just because it’s in the way, that makes it the way? Would you care to explain a little more?”
“The ego is the major player in your human system of awareness. There is no other polar opposite to the individualized soul. It is the primary ‘worthy opponent’ that Carlos Castaneda wrote about. As such, the ego must also then be the portal to enlightenment. You must pass through it—and transform it and yourself—to reach essence.
“Without ego there would never have been differentiation in you. The process of wakening would not have become an issue; it would never even have been possible. Your soul, and every soul, very much wants awakening to arise. To do so, it must ascend out of an unawakened state. The ancient mystics have long foretold: Light must ever emerge from darkness.
“What is not apparent to the unawakened mind is that the ego is already transparent; and it has been all along. As you humans develop the capacity for sincere ‘noticing’, you begin to see through the passing forms and illusions; and you begin to see through the ego.
“Even though the ego is the central illusion, it has been imbued, by you, with life and awareness in its own right. As such, it deserves to be respected and afforded grace. It can be given encouragement to come forward into the light, to allow the light to shine through it and illuminate it. It can begin—again, in a rudimentary way—to see that it belongs to the light; it is a projection from that light. There is that in light which shines through any form.
“Ego’s greatest fear is that it does not exist. Allow it to exist; make it a choice rather than the default. In this conscious act, you take back your power; you become the director of your life. With this direction comes the responsibility to be vigilant and watchful that ego does not regain dominance.”
I ask, “If we allow ego to exist, what kinds of roles and actions are appropriate for it?”
She is quick to answer. “The very roles it has become so talented at over the ages—but with a twist: Instead of ‘protection’ let it practice ‘detection’; instead of ‘defense’, let it ‘sense’ the unknown; instead of ‘separating and judging’, let it be ‘appreciating and discerning;’. The ego typically knows well how to manipulate; let it, in place of that, turn toward facilitation and transformation; let it bring the gift of alertness instead of suspicion. Any common separative function can be seen in a more expansive, unifying light. Ego can be brought to see its ties to the greater existence of reality; it can be shown that it is itself the soul in an shadowy form.”
“Will the ego buy that? Will it be comforted?”
“Test it out for yourself. Have a sincere conversation with your own ego and see how it reacts. I suggest you address it this way: as ‘dear defender’. Engage it in a true, interactive dialogue. During the conversation, point out that you—together—are supported from below, backed up with infinite power from the Life of Source. Explain that you also understand its fears, that you have felt them as your own for ages past.
“Tell your ‘defender’ that these fears are no longer necessary; they can be alleviated, lifted, as ‘defense mechanisms’ are carefully replaced by the stronger powers from below. Tell ego that the ‘awakening’ is happening to it as much as it is happening to you; know this for yourself. Bring ego into the fold in a gentle way. Love it—not for its separative impulses, but for its faithfulness. Acknowledge its best intentions to protect and maintain the integrity of your individuality.
“Then listen to whatever response ego makes. Allow it to describe its own perceptions of life, its ambitions and anxieties. Do not allow it to continue controlling you, however. Draw a firm line here; explain that being ‘in control’ is no longer an option for it. Control is futile now that power has awakened. Be gentle, but be clear. This exercise will yield insight and growth for your relationship; it will also serve to thin the barriers ego has erected around itself and around you. Defender can begin to grow less defensive, more transparent. It will still resist to some extent, but this is good. Resistance has its way of opening the way.
“Offer appreciation and gratitude to Defender for its never-ending work to protect you and provide the form for your incarnate life. Thank ego for its ‘vigilance’. Remind it then that you, together, are entering a new phase of evolution. This phase will enable ego to rest at last; its watchfulness and strength has brought you both to this place. Now, it is time to re-orient. Ask for its assistance in opening the way for more Life to enter. Ego can readily accept the concept of ‘more’; augmentation to itself is what it has always wanted. In addition, offer it the evolving new world as an arena for play; ego can learn to play as does the soul.”
I decide to follow V’s advice and take some time to practice. Here is the transcript of my conversation:
Self: “Dear Defender, may we have a conversation? Will you talk with me?”
Ego, slowly, after some silence: “Yes, I guess. Why not?”
S: “You sound a little reluctant.”
E: “Wouldn’t you be? Why do you want to talk anyway?”
S: “I want to try to see myself as your friend and give you some respect for the way you have always served me. No question, you have caused me many problems over time. And I don’t always agree with your tactics, but you are part of me—an important part. And I am often identified with you!”
E: “So, you are scolding me and praising me in the same breath. You want to change me, right?”
S: “Scold you? No. Change? Yes. But I want to persuade you that the change will be good for you—for both of us.”
E: “Hah. Go ahead and try. I doubt it. You’ll just be wasting your time and breath.”
S: “You do desire to protect me, don’t you?”
E: “Yeah, that’s true. It’s my job. You don’t do such a good job of it yourself. You’re always out there in dreamland, envisioning how you can be free of me. You don’t look out for yourself properly. You’re ignorant of the hard work I do. Someone’s got to make sure we survive and succeed.”
S: “And that’s been you—for ages. I understand. You’ve done a good job of that.”
E, hesitantly: “OK. Thanks.”
S: “But now things are beginning to change. We both know that. Can you feel it?”
E: “Of course. That’s why I’m suspicious of you and this conversation.”
S: “I accept that. But here’s my pitch: We have two basic choices. We can keep on going the way we have—doing battle, habitually undermining each other—or we can team up in a new way.”
E: “Team up? You and me! That’s a laugh. We’re far too different for that. We’re at opposite ends of the spectrum, of the universe!”
S: “Correct. But that’s exactly why we could make a great team. We represent the whole spectrum of our universe—from end to end. I happen to believe that our two perspectives are essential together. They have been kept apart for way too long.”
E: “You don’t expect me to be overjoyed at your proposal, do you? It looks to me like you want to take away from me what little I have—the simple pleasures of keeping you focused and successful. You never give me much to work with though; you’re always messing up. I’ve got to watch you constantly, aggressively.”
S: “I don’t expect you to be overjoyed. Not yet. But think about it, my friend. You don’t have a lot of joy in your life—ever. You get happy sometimes, but you have just as much sadness and pain in the end. I, on the other hand, have an inside track to joy itself—the true source of any happiness you might feel. I can help you feel more genuine satisfaction in life. If we team up, we can take your protective interests and put them together with my desire for awakening. We can produce a new state of being. We can go beyond the need for defending.”
E: “Hah! That’s not possible. We always have to be on the lookout for danger and threats. How can you say we don’t need protection?”
S: “The only reason we have needed protection in the past, dear Defender, is that we didn’t know there was another way. You haven’t been given the understanding of this. I now say to you, I know the other way.”
E: “What? You think I don’t understand your tricks. You want to light incense and recite mantras? Ask angels for help? How stupid!”
S: “No, that’s not it. I want you and me to sit together and stare into a place you have always been afraid to look. You have been afraid of that place, I know.”
E: “What’re you talking about? What place? Are you talking about the den of a saber-toothed tiger? Or some terrorist lurking down the dark alley?”
S: “No, not that. It’s a much darker place. It’s dark, but it is very, very safe. I’ve been there and I know. I want you to stare with me into the Void!”
Ego is silent.
S: “Way down there in that dim, empty darkness is something you don’t know about. But once you look at it, you will feel safe.”
Ego is still silent, but listening.
S: “It’s not what you think it is. It’s actually where you come from, and where I come from, too—way back in the beginning, way down in the beginning. It’s our Source, our originator. Don’t just think about what I’m saying. Feel it! That emptiness is where power comes from, my friend. I know you like power! The power I’m talking about is limitless and available at all times, everywhere. It is so powerful, that once it comes into us, we have no need for defenses anymore. Here is what I’m offering: In order to share this power, we only need to team up and open up to it.”
E: “You’re telling me you don’t need me anymore!”
S: “Some might say that, yes. But no, I’m not saying that. I do need you. I need you in a new way.”
E: “What way? I still think you’re trying to trick me.”
S: “I’m not lying. You know when I lie, when we lie. This isn’t a trick. I want you as a true partner, as part of the team. I want you to join me in what they call ‘awakening’. You might call it something else, like attention or shrewdness. Call it anything you want.”
E: “Hah. Like ‘manipulation’ and ‘conquest of your ego’?”
S: “That’s good. You’re a very clever fellow. But no, I’m asking you to awaken with me, to see a new way of doing your job. You have been the ‘defender’. Now I would like you to consider working with me as a ‘protector’ and ‘gate keeper’.”
E: “What’s that?”
S: “I don’t know yet exactly. I’m being honest. But we can invent it together—in partnership. Whatever it is, it will be a powerful—empowered—position. The ‘gate’ is the portal into that place of power, within the Void and the Source.
“You know, I’m just sensing that our teamwork could happen in those moments when you start to take over and direct me, when I start to go unconscious. But together you could help me stay aware. I could see that you are very present at those moments. I could really notice you, acknowledge you. And that’s when we could really team up!”
E trembles: “You want me to help you undermine me, to help you ‘stay aware’? That sounds horrible. What would be in it for me?”
S: “You would have an elevated role: Instead of having to subvert me and create separation to feel alive, you would join me in being aware. Your reward would be in sharing the power.”
E: “Power? I don’t know. What’s the catch? Not that I would want to do any of this, mind you.”
S: “The catch is that you would have to change. You would have to become more than you have ever been. You would have to let me show you how to be conscious. I’m not sure you’re up to it, but I’m willing to take a chance.”
E: “What do you mean, I’m not up to it? I’m not conscious? I’ve got my own senses. I’ve got my own tricks … I mean ‘techniques’. If I wanted to, be damned sure, I could do it!”
S: “That’s good to hear, Defender. Maybe you could do it. But you would have to show me and prove it to me. And I would have to stay more conscious of you. For now, this is enough talk. Please just consider it. You don’t have to give me an answer right now. In fact, I wish you wouldn’t. Will you consider being in a partnership with me in this ‘awakening’?”
Silence, then Ego answers: “You are a very persuasive speaker. I have to think this over for a while. I must admit, I like the idea of having more power and influence with you—call it ‘teamwork’ if you must. I will consider what you’ve said and get back to you.”
S: “That’s all I ask for. Thank you. Let’s talk again soon.”
V sits silently for a time, pondering. Then she responds, “Very good. You have set changes into motion. Mark my words, they will yield results beyond your expectation.”
An abrupt intuition comes to me. “That conversation with my ego is giving me new insight into the separation humans experience in their lives. We say we want to get rid of separateness, but really we cling to it, often in unconscious ways. We try to push separateness away. But that is just more separation. We do the same with ego: We push it away, try to suppress and deny it, rather than accepting it as part of ‘what is’ and bringing it into our awareness.
“One of those ways we create more separation is to surround ourselves with like-minded, same-thinking people—in the name of togetherness and sharing and ‘non-separation’. When we do that, however, we limit our experience of the world to only what we think fits into our social and cultural beliefs—our ideologies and opinions.
“Instead of going for true wholeness, we settle for the broken wholeness of the tribe, or the political party, or the exclusive religion. We depart from true wholeness. The ‘part’ is always a ‘broken’ thing. It is broken off from wholeness.” I feel like inventing a new word: ‘holicipation’ instead of ‘participation’.
“What I’m sensing now tells me that it is diversity that makes wholeness—not sameness. Sameness actually works against unity. It feels safe, but it is ultimately more dangerous, because it separates us and pushes us away from other groups and from the greater whole. Sameness and separateness are not safe. The so-called ‘safety’ we find in like-minded company is but a temporary illusion, a comforting, delaying tactic.
“It takes courage to leave the illusion of safety and move out from the familiar confines of one’s own ‘special’ group. Even if that group has large numbers in it, if it preaches exclusive ‘truth’ and tells you that outsiders are inferior, then your group is actually very small in the greater scheme. It has no true largess. Clinging to ‘sameness’ results in smallness—in the sense of being cut off from the greater whole.”
V takes this up. “This is indeed insightful. But bear in mind there is also great usefulness to associating with those of similar destiny and awakening. It is good to be aware of those individuals and groups in the world who have differing experience and ideas from your own. It is compassionate to listen and comprehend them. But be discerning about it. You need not join them to appreciate them.
“Let us link this insight to the Life of Source now. Life fosters the creation of diversity as it streams through the ingeniousness of evolution.” She pauses. “Let me give you a seed-link to ponder later: Evolution is a tool—a technology—for creation. Who and what is the genius behind the creation of that technology? How does Source use its tool? Ponder, as a corollary, the nature of instinct in this, as well.”
I place the seed-link into the crystal vesica; then she resumes, “Within diversity, of course, Life also allows the belief in separation and its attendant fears. This belief generates exclusivity and the desire to turn one’s opinions into hard truths. All this is endorsed under the rubric of diversity and the exploration of infinite possibilities.
“What Life has done—in its role—is to expand the intentions of Source. Life has taken the deep impulses and rendered them into form—its own expansion and evolution. Life has become the creative, implementation. Source has provided the enabling impetus and power.
“What begins as expansion and exploration of diversity, ultimately draws itself together into awareness and wholeness. Of course, there is no linear ‘end point’ to the exploration. ‘Ultimately’ does not mean a literal, final conclusion; it only means, ‘the unending process of returning into Source’. Through pervasive separation and diverse arrangements across the Cosmos, Source moves within its own destiny—the one, true, undivided Individual. And all this grand, spacious adventure happens in one, tiny, still moment. Now.”
ⓒ 2014 Robert Lee Potter
CLICK HERE and you will find all the chapters posted from Life of Source. I will be updating each week with new chapters till we reach the end of the book. It will then be available for download from this site. Stay Tuned…