The Ego and the Self

on February 2 | in Affirmations | by | with Comments Off on The Ego and the Self

Last week I wrote about The Siren Call of Overworking and the week before about Getting Out of the Way: Helping by Being Absent. There seems to be a sort of theme developing in my recent articles about our relationships with others that could be misunderstood as negativity, so I’m writing this in case you’ve started thinking of me as an unfriendly hermit.

I might be the friendliest hermit you know.

To understand the relationships of people, we must explore what it means to be a person. In so doing, we see that there is a fleeting existence of relationships in time and an eternal relationship of ourselves to others outside of time.

Among others, two fundamental components of embodied spirituality are service and empathy. It is not for the glorification or ascendance of self that we seek to become more spiritual – or rather, better said, it is for the ascendance of self that we seek spirituality but that can only be properly understood where the self is known to be the all. In other words, when we come from witness consciousness with the understanding that there is no difference between the self and other, then there is no difference at all between service of self and service of others.

To get to that understanding, it is critical to differentiate between the ego and the self. There’s no clue to this difference in general usage of the word “ego”, so it bears elaboration. Your ego is your attachment, your fears, your emotions, and your mind. Your ego is bound up in time; it is temporal in the sense that it exists for the flickery instant that your person exists on this physical plane. It’s easy to confuse your ego with your true self, that you only uncover in meditation, which is that unchanging, eternal consciousness that encompasses all things and all times. As the passage from the Bhagavad Gita describes, the self is “not pierced by arrows or burnt by fire, affected by neither water nor wind.”

Even as we cast off worn-out garments
And put on new ones, so casts off the Self
A worn-out body and enters into
Another that is new.

Not pierced by arrows nor burnt by fire,
Affected by neither water nor wind,
The Self is not a physical creature.

Not wounded, not burnt, not wetted, not dried,
The Self is ever and everywhere,
Immovable and everlasting.

The Self cannot be known by the senses,
Nor thought by the mind, nor caught by time.
If you know this, you will not grieve.

The Bhagavad Gita as quoted by the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation

So then, in my elaborations and efforts to prescribe limitations to our helpfulness, it is not in a sense of selfishness or individual gain. Rather, it is in an avoidance of enslavement of our mindfulness to the trivial and banal. It is the promotion of that which we most fundamentally are in a temporal sense, the self-experiencing of the divine.

In avoiding the yoke of mundanity through our attention, we raise our eyes on the nobler truth of timelessness. In that gazing, we edge ever closer to enlightenment.

Keep on keeping on,

Read On

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