Michael Hayes – June 24, 2014
Question: What is the role of the ego in our spiritual awakening? What is its purpose in regards to our soul’s progression? What is its goal as opposed to the souls? Is there a conflict, and does it serve or hinder us?
Well that’s a complicated thing right there. Does the ego serve us or hinder us in our soul’s progression? The ego comes about in our infancy as we formulate our sense of separate existence, as we formulate that conceptualization of ourselves as a separate form existing in a time and space experience. Our view of our existence is very much formulated by our thoughts and feelings coming together. It really emerges from that. It is then I who gets formulated. I become I, the some one who has this life. Thus the ego ultimately serves our purpose as the soul because it’s coming into form or coming into expression, gives us a place in the unfolding dramas of the world. It has a huge effect on what we do and what we gain by coming into this life.
In a sense, we step into a movie or a story where we’re the central character and every other form and character in the story is in relationship to us. Without this, we wouldn’t get so engaged in all this that we call human life. We wouldn’t learn from it; from the fallacies and the failings and the illusions, or from the victories and the triumphs. The ego then becomes an essential part of the whole process. However, the ego as our sense of separate existence formulates its own vision of what life should be. It concocts its own plans for life, its own ambitions, always centered around its place in the center of reality. It wants everything and every experience to reaffirm its specialness, its uniqueness.
Our spiritual awakening, our coming awake to who we always are, always were and always will be is contrary to everything the ego is about. We are divine. We are God particularized in the form of the soul. Our awakening to our true nature is anathema to the ego. It views this like a monster approaching to destroy its world. Seeking to sustain its story, the ego fights against all that would undermine that story. Nothing undermines it like awakening to the spirit that is beyond all stories of this level. So the ego becomes a relentless adversary to spiritual awakening. Yet the ego has an essentiality to the process of life. It gives us strength and desire to make choices, to take risks and to take actions that we might otherwise be too insecure to do. It is a tool for human expression.
Some of these ego inspired choices can become stepping stones on our journey into ourselves, moving us past the illusions we live in. The ego does not do this purposefully, but somehow, inadvertently, it happens. Though the ego’s agenda in choosing is glory, recognition and specialness, the soul’s purpose of learning and growing still finds fulfillment. The designs of God include the ego as a unique challenge and opportunity for this human experience. We learn to cooperate with the ego’s nature as we experience this life and also experience the greater life of spirit. We gradually learn to recognize the ego’s place and its purpose. We don’t go into direct conflict with the ego. We learn to observe it and learn to bypass its attempts to engage the consciousness into full pursuit of its agendas. We become more of a witness to what it’s doing.
When we come into this world we deal with the body in all its flaws, all its insufficiencies, all its hang-ups and all its fallibility. We use it as a tool to move through this world, to sensually experience this world. We use it as a reference point into this world from which we engage with life. The ego is similarly part of being in this world and we can accept and work with its limitations much like we work with the body’s limitations. We don’t want to get caught into the trap of going to war with our body and our senses like the path of asceticism, the path of denial that many traditions have chosen. Similarly, we don’t want to go to war with our ego. Nor do we want to be subjugated or dominated by it. Ego is not to be our master just as the body cravings are not to be our master. We are not to be dominated by the appetites of the flesh that could drive us into a place where the fulfilling of sensual gratifications becomes our primary focus. Similarly, we wouldn’t want the ego to have that power to drive us and to consume us.
We also would not want our minds to drive and dominate us to the exclusion of the greater truth of who we are, for minds quests endlessly for information. Minds are great tools for gathering and sorting information. They analyze our experiences, creating summarizations that are catalogued within us as reference points of what life is or what we understand life to be. If we allow our minds to have too much control of our direction and our choices we will also be led astray, but we do not want to go into battle with our minds, for that is a war that few can win. Instead we work with our minds as great and essential tools for living in this world. With some direction and focus we can use our minds to thrive in life.
Our emotions are similar to our minds in that we do not want to be dominated by them but also have great problems when we seek to suppress them. We learn to find a balance between directing and allowing our emotions and in this our lives are well served. All that we are, all that we have, mind, emotions, body, ego, personality; all are factors that are suited to our growth. Growth, for the soul, supercedes all the agendas of the mind, the emotions, the body and the ego. If we hold this perspective we will move through this life, staying free of the entrapments the ego would put upon us. We will exemplify the balanced life that leads to the awakened life.
Question: So from what you are saying, it’s not that we must defeat the ego or get rid of the ego? The ego does not have to die and not exist. It’s more of a process of becoming awake and gaining altitude and seeing it as it is?
Yes. The ego does not die or disappear, but our involvement with it, our relationship to it becomes very different. As we witness its patterns and agendas we move through life without letting it take authority over us. We do not allow it to ascend to a position where it dominates us. Like riding a horse, where the horse conveys us and serves a purpose for us, we stay vigilant, lest the horse starts to run away at a speed or in a direction we do not want. In truth, we are divine beings, but as long as we are participating in this physical world through a physical form we will deal with this sense of separate existence, which we call the ego. But we can hold a sense of separate existence without being governed by it.
We can hold it as a functional process, as a functional tool that is part of having relationship to all this human experience offers. As we awaken spiritually we realize that having this individual separate existence allowed us to have interconnectivity and relationship with all other consciousness in this level that is playing the game of separation. So it has served our spiritual purpose. But we can play it as a game rather than as an absolute truth. We can participate within all this but also have a freedom from it.
Question: And as we awake how does the ego change or how do we change in our relationship to it?
The ego doesn’t really change in the sense that one might think. Using the analogy of the horse, if you were able to train your horse to be much more willing to follow your directions you could talk about how much the horse has changed. But though its behavior has changed it will still always be a horse. The greater change is really in you, and your mastery of horsemanship. Your awakening gives you awareness that allows you to thwart the inclinations of the ego. It becomes more cooperative not by choice, but because you have taken the reins and are setting the direction so clearly that it must go along. This is not done through force of will but through depth of awareness. The ego must always be understood to be a little bit like a hungry lion. Forget about it, turn your back upon it, and it could take a bite out of you. So we must be vigilant and watchful that it does not take a bite into our life that really hurts us because it would do that. Ego is very, very clever. Its cleverness is largely in its ability to continually reshape itself to contain us in the story of us, to contain us in the story of our history and to contain us in the story of our becoming.
When we awaken to ourselves, we see the truth that the ego is not containing us but is contained within us. The ego is known then as part of the greater story of the journey of our souls into this world of form, a story we all share with each other and will one day share with our creator.
With Love & Light,
–Michael Hayes and Awake to Love