eternal changeless nature of Truth, we are not our busy, fractured
minds. Yet it is crucial to acknowledge that we believe we are
indeed fractured. Every day we accept our ego thoughts and
feelings as our only thoughts and feelings.
our ego represents the conflicted voices and lessons we stockpiled
during our formative years, we react to them as our essence, our
individuality, how we "feel" about things. If we are
honest, we will admit that this part of us is our primary teacher
and guide. We are not on a spiritual path; we are on an ego
can have the concept that we are not our ego (our inner
demons, shadow self, mortal self, dreaming mind, busy mind), but in
a thousand ways each day, we demonstrate that we live through and
for our worldly identity.
You and I do
not believe we are "children of God." We may
give lip service to that concept, but we believe we are autonomous,
a creation of ourselves. We think we are pretty much whatever
we decide to be and not the creation, the extension, the "image
and likeness" of God. This belief is not
"nothing." It creates almost everything we
experience. It is the source of our fear, misery, and
loneliness. It locks us in a tale that begins with hope and
excitement, but ends in disillusionment and destruction. It
doesn't matter if this tale is not the truth of God, because you and
I experience it as if it were.
When we are
in a restaurant, we look over the menu and select a dish. We
don't think, "Oh, this preference for linguini is coming from
my ego and is not my preference." We order the
linguini. Without any real second thought, we accept almost
every reaction we have to the circumstances and people we encounter
each day--even though only our ego has a range of emotional
responses to aspects of separation. Surely no one would argue
that God likes fried okra over lima beans. No one would say
that the governing Principle of the universe hates "call
waiting." Or suggest that the Host of Heaven "buy
array of emotions within them, individuals on a spiritual path often
single out just a few feelings and call them "ego."
For instance, we can "love" getting a promotion and feel
euphoric for a day or two, yet not have an instant's concern that
these are ego reactions. But if we feel jealousy about someone
else getting the promotion and we are depressed for a day or two, we
say, "These emotions are my ego." Or if it dawns on
us that we dislike the French, or yuppies, or our brother-in-law, we
think, "That's just ego."
years of counseling individuals on a spiritual path, I know that
when most people say, "That's just ego," or, "That's
my inner parent," or, "That's the devil," or,
"That's just the alcohol talking," what they really mean
is, it is not me. And, of course, from the standpoint
of absolute Truth, it isn't. Yet notice that it is them when
it comes to the opinions they hold about politics, religion,
parenting, or whether they are "good in bed."
In fact, we
tend to be proud of most of our patterns of separation:
"I'm a morning person," "I run a tight ship,"
"I believe in speaking my mind," "I don't tolerate
fools," "I'm a spontaneous kind of guy," "When I
pay this much, I expect good service."
emphasize too strongly that we run the risk of underestimating the
power of our beliefs when we notice a destructive line of thought
but say to ourselves, "Oh, that's just ego." Our
beliefs are so powerful that they color our entire world. We
literally see what we believe, but we can--and most of us do--fail
to take responsibility for what we see, especially what we see
within. Provided it's not acted out, consciously blaming
others for how we feel is a fairly obvious and innocuous mistake
compared to the mistake of attributing our feelings to the ego or
the devil. . . .
our harmful tendencies to something that is "not us"
tempts us to stop taking the steps needed to render them
powerless. Once any destructive thought is made fully
conscious, we still recognize it whenever it surfaces, but it no
longer scares, shocks, or controls us. As a safety precaution,
I counsel people to think, "I hate women," "I disdain
men," "I feel superior to my best friend," "I
can't stand three-wheelers," "I resent mansions,"
rather than, "My ego is feeling hateful (disdainful, superior,
resentful, and the like)." We purify ourselves by
acknowledging how we are now and becoming more aware of it now.
author Hugh Prather has a knack for putting his finger on
the pulse of America's emotional and spiritual angst. In The
Little Book of Letting Go he gives voice to the internal
chatter that prevents us from enjoying or pursuing our true
desires. "Within our human heart we all feel the call
to be simple, to be present, to be real," Prather
writes. "Yet throughout the day, the world urges us to
be at war with ourselves and each other: 'Be resentful about
the past.' 'Be anxious about the future.' 'Be dissatisfied
with what you do see.' 'Be guilty.' 'Be important.' 'Be
bored.'" Prather compares these thoughts to the stale
clutter in the back of our refrigerators. By cleaning out
our minds, we allow room for fresher and more nourishing
foods for thought.