Via Transformativa: Practical Magic — Magic of Understanding Ego

By: JUBILEE! Minister Bill Harris

To fight the ego or to just passively roll over are both destructive and counterproductive. How do we step back and create the space to work practical magic with the ego? Understanding ego can be a powerful way to work practical magic with the ego. The ego can either be the walls that keep us trapped or it can be a means to awakening. The more we understand what ego is and how it functions the more we can engage it in a way that’s both creative and transformative. I’m going to put some things out here about ego and then open up the floor for discussion.

We spend most of our lives living as amnesiacs with a case of mistaken identity. So when we use the word “I” we’re usually, as Eckhart Tolle points out, referring to “me and my story” which is the “I” of our likes, dislikes, desires, fears and etc. This “I”, this self, is the ego self. The ego self is simply a conditioned, constructed self. It’s our programming. It’s the collection of our beliefs, perceptions, feelings, thoughts and actions constantly acting and interacting with each other thousands of times per second.

It’s as Tolle says, a “fleeting, temporary formation, like a pattern on the surface of the water. And, when we stop and pay attention, we know how true it is. How temporary this life is and how transitory the stuff that makes up this life is. At at the level of ego were terrified and quickly move onto to something else so we don’t have to think about it. Our terror comes from buying into the belief that our body and our constructed self is who we are.

The ego operates based on a set of basic universal beliefs:

  1. The world is as it physically appears—we are our body

  2. We are separate and ultimately alone

  3. Survival is primary—both physically as well as mentally/emotionally

  4. Fear is necessary for survival

  5. Control is critical—both of the external world and our internal world.

Along with these beliefs are three basic rules for survival:

  1. Don’t talk—at least not about really going on. Don’t acknowledge the elephant in the living room or the one in your head.

  1. Don’t trust—yourself, others, the world or any kind of god.

  2. Don’t feel—if you let yourself feel your feelings you will lose control and they will overwhelm you

All three of these rules are about not losing control

Each individual ego self has its on variation and spin on these beliefs and rules. It all works something like this. We each come into this physical world with a body. From the time of conception onward we begin to receive input through our body. This input comes in the form of sensations which the body takes in and converts into impressions. These impressions are store in the body, primarily the heart center, as patterns of emotional energy. In the brain they are stored as memories that are filed according to an emotionally based filing system. In the mind they are stored as beliefs and understandings—as meaning.

Some inputs are experienced more intensely than others. The more intensely the input is experienced the greater its role in forming and shaping the ego self. Some of these experiences are emotionally very pleasurable. These experiences are highlighted as good. So we then begin to seek to recreate these experiences believing that these kinds of experiences will give us happiness. We become attached to these kind of experiences and try to hold on them and begin grasping for them.

We develop various strategies, some conscious and most unconscious, to get these kind of experiences. On the other hand, we have experiences that are emotionally unpleasant and painful. The emotions feel too big and powerful to manage. They are highlighted as bad. These experiences we seek to avoid believing these kind of experiences will cause suffering and unhappiness. We become averse these and resist and push away anything that we think might cause these kind of experiences.

We employ three primary strategies to avoid anything that triggers such emotions. First we consciously and intentionally suppress, push down, the feelings. Then we begin to repress them. This means we automatically and unconsciously push them down. Finally, in order to keep the unconscious pattern of repression going we resort to compulsion. We develop compulsive ways of acting, thinking, feeling, perceiving and believing. In short, we medicate our feelings.

This is a thumbnail sketch of how ego works. The ego self stays in perpetual motion fighting against what is in the present by constantly grasping and resisting. Desperately trying to stay in control. It is this desperate conditioned, programmed self that Jesus is saying we must lose in order to find our life, our awakened true nature. It’s by letting go of the ego self as the control center of our lives that we relapse back into a recognition of who and what we actually are.

Breathe deeply.

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