EXCHANGING THE EGO FOR A “TRUE SELF”

             Some say the most profound scientific discipline is theoretical physics which has vastly expanded our understanding of the structure of the physical universe using the language of mathematics, but I think this now needs to be matched by an even more profound spiritual/theological discipline that can further our understanding of the relationship between God and the human self through expanded human consciousness of love, truth, justice, and beauty as expressed through the arts. Materialistic evolution via science and technology has taken us about as far as we’re going to get while still retaining our basic humanity, but the prospects for our species will be pretty dim if that’s the full extent of what we’re ever going to achieve.

             I propose it’s time for human beings to make a conscious choice about which evolutionary path they should take: materialistic evolution (especially digital artificial intelligence) or the next step in humans’ spiritual evolution. Greater spirituality, however, won’t necessarily increase our intelligence or ability to manipulate the material world, but could, eventually, evolve us into an entirely different type of humanity – the kind originally pointed towards by Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed.

            When a person enters the world as a baby, they’re totally open to God – arriving as pure energy in human form. Because they come straight from God, they’re completely natural upon arrival. After their surprise landing in this world, however, they need to figure out how to survive in this particular time and place. They eventually do, but the cost is often high. They’re faced with the necessity of becoming the kind of person that other people readily recognize and the surrounding culture use. Since usually they’re raised by parents – people who’ve already made the requisite compromises and adjustments – the baby ultimately learns how to “fit in.”

            This baby, who started life as a tiny energy “sun,” eventually begins “dimming” because so much of her original natural energy will be perceived as “alien” to her family’s world. Eventually, the baby matures and becomes a “person” by developing an ego – and ultimately joins society. One day, however, that baby – after attaining adulthood – might begin wondering where all her previous energy had gone – and whether it might ever be regained.

            In traditional societies, a person’s roles remain largely the same throughout their life and also determine how their children will turn out.

            In modern societies, however, by early adulthood, a person usually gains abilities and opportunities to change “who” they are by making individual choices – leading them away from predestined family roles – becoming partly a family-destined person and partly a self-determined one – in a “composite” role. Nevertheless, whatever this composite role turns out to be, it’s still just a role.

            All roles, traditional or modern, become included in one’s “life story.” As Shakespeare asserted in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” So, the problem with developing an “ego,” along with one’s accompanying “story,” is the temptation to “make up” that story as one goes along – like in a dramatic film – even if carried out mainly unconsciously.

            Another problem with “roles” is their need for consistency and continuity, so the self can seemingly remain “the same.”

            This is why “higher” values are necessary to effect any serious changes in our quotidian roles and stories. Traditionally, humanity’s highest values have been attributable to a “Spirit” (usually “God’s”) – as well as to divine spiritual attributes like love, truth, justice, and beauty.

            Roles and stories, however, compel us to live as unfree. Since we believe these roles and stories (as reinforced by the surrounding society) constitute our “identity,” we sometimes even believe we would need to “die” as the price for achieving freedom. If a person becomes threatened with losing their identity, frequently, they’ll think they might as well be dead. That’s how important roles and personal stories are for a normal human being. In fact, there’s a general consensus in the humanities, as well as in psychotherapy, that the ego, as a person’s chief fictional character, is one’s essential self.

            So, how is it possible to free ourselves from embedded roles and stories that obstruct our natural human self-understanding and close down our best, most spontaneous thoughts – in order to gain the freedom necessary to become our “true selves”?

            The answer is that we need to be “born again” – at any age. That is, we’ll need to reverse direction, spiritually, and become a “child” all over again so as to become as free as God.

             Jesus himself said this, did this, and then died for it – all to show us how.

             To be “born again” is scary – few can do it all at once. Most people need time to shed their artificial roles until they’re free enough to make a long daring leap into their “true selves.” Starting at an older age, it actually becomes easier to work towards greater spirituality by breaking up and discarding pieces of one’s earlier “false selves” and gain a greater naturalness and openness spiritually even though one is at the same time physically degenerating.

NOBODY

             One trump card used by “enlightenment masters,” when meeting prospective new followers, is asking: “who are you?,” knowing in advance they can’t answer that – because, in actuality, at the deepest levels underneath their “ego,” they’re “no one” and “nobody.”

            Recognizing the need to rid myself of ego before taking up the search for my “true self,” I started studying Western medieval mystics like Marguerite Porete and Meister Eckhart, as well as more modern writers, like Emily Dickinson and Simone Weill, all of whom wrote about becoming “nobody” or “no one,” as being necessary to approach God directly. Marguerite Porete wrote: True freedom is when we “become love.” This reaches far beyond simple humility (because, obviously, a lot of pride can be hidden behind a show of humility). Going all the way – to zero – and then experiencing the world – is what they seemed to be recommending. At first, this approach seemed meaningless to me, even nonsensical, yet they repeatedly kept saying it.

            Eventually, I came to accept their approach as being centered on freedom. That in order to escape one’s ego, one first had to free oneself of one’s “old” self – along with all the wrong ideas and assumptions about one’s “life” and “the world.” Apparently, becoming nobody does the trick! As Marguerite says: “The soul swims in a sea of joy!”

            We need to go to the place where we stand alone – waiting for the promised meeting with God –and then just wait. As Meister Eckhart says: “To be empty of all created things is to be full of God, and to be full of created things is to be empty of God.”

            The promise is that God arrives out of “nothing,” That by accepting loneliness – even depression – and waiting patiently, God will eventually “come home” – into your heart.

            Immediately upon “waking up,” you’ll be seeing through fresh eyes – a newborn’s eyes – and what you’ll see and experience is what God sees and experiences – through you – just as if you’re God and God is you.

            This is the easiest, as well as the hardest, thing in the world to accomplish – to give up your ego in order to find your “true self” – to become the individual you were born to be. It’s what Jesus understood – that one’s old self has to “die” for one’s “true self” to come to life.

            And this is what he accomplished – and why people either spontaneously followed him or desired to kill him. The former filled with a joy they’d never experienced before, while the latter became angry that any human being would dare to become that kind of person.

            As Meister Eckhart says: “God’s ground and the soul’s ground are one ground.” That is, God’s essence and the soul’s essence are the same – at least in the eyes of great mystics

ALWAYS FRESH

“I go back to where everything is nothing.”
                                                      Rumi

Along with Rumi, I want nothing – except freedom
And perhaps a friend to point the way to God for me
In place of all the religious “professionals” lining the way to nowhere
And flatterers complimenting us on things we already know.

I want nothing
And the freedom that goes along with it –
I also want a God who still desires being God
Along with a quotidian material world whirring into and out of existence.

I want a freedom that’s fully paid for –
And a love that arrives “out of the blue.”

Speaking of “blue,” I want a lot more of that
Skies, oceans, robins’ eggs, and Van Gogh blues –
Along with the spectacular “yellows” I’d never seen before visiting Musée d’Orsay.

Nothing is absolutely the beginning of everything –
Nothing is a midnight diner – cars streaming by –
Nothing is music discerned through an almost-waking dream.

Nothing is a God who doesn’t need to be acknowledged as “God” –
Since God’s perpetually fresh!

TURNING AROUND IN A DRASTIC MANNER

In America, God, the real god, dies every minute –
Killed from opposing directions –
First, by those believing they no longer need God
Because they’re so smart and ambitious –
And, second, by those who worship an older, passé God
Who, since he’s obviously no longer as effective for them, get furious –
And want (and actually try) to pull down the temple on their own heads.

The first are Ivy Leaguers
The second small town Evangelicals.

America traditionally has been an open-hearted kind of place –
And Ivy Leaguers and small-town Evangelicals agree about this
But they’ve been looking in opposite directions – and for now can’t see one another –
And, presently, don’t even want to!

Our Founders designed an America open to the skies –
A free land where people could be themselves –
But freedom, alone, can’t do everything.

Americans also have to be inspired collectively to acquire the best human qualities –
While expressing a spirit of openness in their lives –
Along with an authentic concern for the “beaten down.”

America does make mistakes – really big mistakes –
But, usually, eventually, turns around after admitting them.


Yes, America can turn around – sometimes, even in a drastic manner!

GAINING ENOUGH SUBSTANCE TO LOOK DIRECTLY AT GOD

The common and usual “self” expands by sticking “things” onto its body –
As well as manipulating other people into its lower orbit –
While rolling and trolling around in egoistic sweet desires.

This kind of “self,” however, sometimes disconnects from itself –
Like a space capsule unlocking from a mother ship
Into a self open to enjoying everybody and everything
With the freedom to be objective and to tell “the whole truth” –
Because there’s no longer any false self remaining.

A self that’s left its false self behind becomes a “true self” –
Free to think God’s thoughts,
Love like God,
And tell the truth like God –

That’s not to say, however, that these experiences can’t end up being a bit “shallow.”

The first step, however, is to gain spiritual freedom –
The second requires a lot of hard work – (because God is not a lightweight) –
Even 10 years of sustained and persistent work
Might only get us as far as being a decent human being –
Even after exercising the freedom of God.

People courageous enough to look God straight in the face
Sometimes still come to realize that working spiritually for most of their lives
Might not add enough weight
To gain the attention of a single person
Desiring to know something about the “real” God.

WAKING UP

If the “self” is a problem
And finding one’s “true self” the main issue
How will we ever find our “true” self
Without first establishing a true world?

It’s a conundrum, isn’t it: since, in most cases, there can’t be a true self
Without first establishing a true “world”?
But such a true world can never be founded
Except by true selves.

This is where psychology merges into politics
And politics back into psychology –
Always in the context of an “alive” God
(No old, stale Gods for us!)

Love, truth, justice, beauty and, of course, freedom, are essential aspects
Of any “living” God
Who can make possible both “true selves” and a “true world.”

Everything, however, can and, eventually will, get better – it just takes time –
Along with large scoops of hope and love –
And, certainly, a lot more awakeness –

God, please help us wake up – NOW!

MY NAME IS SURPRISE

One problem with religion is its construction
Of sandcastles in the desert –
Waiting for successors to knock them all down.

Another trouble with religion is its professionalization –
Because only amateurs are authorized
To take off their clothes in public.

Then, with religions, there are “splits”
Where the fiercest enemy is a sizable portion of its former self –
Flying arrows – hearts turning black.

The final trouble with religion is the killing off of founders
Because founders, like Jesus, the Buddha, and Mohammed,
Are still too alive to be turned into museum sculptures –
So alive, that everyone runs away screaming:
“They’re alive – watch out – better yet – run!”

Of course, running out into the lonely night,
Eventually, you have to stop, turn around, and start to relax –
But it’s really not so bad without post-founder institutions to believe in –
After all, that feeling of freedom is wonderful!

My heart starts doing jumping jacks
In my chest
Out my mouth.

My name is “Surprise” –
Just don’t try sneaking up on me!

BLAZING BEAUTY

How is it possible to grow more beautiful while aging,
Especially given all the recent dimming
Of eyes, ears, teeth, feet – even balance?

Is it only our memories that are getting somewhat sweeter,
Especially the recent ones?

Those recent memories – the brand-new ones –
Having just been born –
Are certainly the easiest to grasp.

Primarily, it’s increasing gentleness that I have recently begun to accept –
Especially a gratitude for small gifts –
The unexpected ones, that aging’s been providing me with.

I think a certain kind of beauty does arrive with age – but mostly from the outside –
A beauty we might never have noticed before
That we can carefully turn and store inside ourselves.

It goes without saying that this kind of beauty constituted the original name of God.

So, as we get older, it’s our ability to accept God,
Along with God’s primary attributes – love, truth, justice, beauty and freedom –
That’s the source of any and all blazing beauty in our lives.

FREEDOM IS A BLANK SHEET

To lose everything might provide total freedom
But it doesn’t usually happen that way
Since a person can only lose one piece of themselves at a time.

Writing is freedom on a blank sheet
Without even a dot –
This sheet appears as empty as God
Who’s been busily filling everything in.

Love is like leaving a window open
So that, suddenly, if a bird flies in –
It’s the symbol of your heart returning home.

I keep tearing off pieces of myself
And tossing them out into the dark –
Pretty soon the night will be all lit up with me –
How embarrassing!

After a certain age, sex and gender start floating off –
What’s left is much greater freedom –
It’s what you’ll see when you get close enough to look directly at God
While, later in life, you start filling up with so much love
That you can’t hold onto anything else.

God is a surprise
Because you never see God coming –
Just don’t piss in your panties
When it happens.

HOW EVE BECAME GOD AND SAVED THE WORLD

At first, Eve was a happy animal –
But one day she ate a piece of fruit
And, spontaneously, split in two.

Instantaneously as a result of this split,
She found herself outside the garden
Looking back at her happy self still inside.

She experienced herself “naked” – out in a tough world –
The fault of her newly-found “consciousness” –
A “mixed power” she had acquired through “seeing herself.”

Of course, the story doesn’t end there –
There’s both good and bad in the gift of consciousness –
For example, she was able to trick all the still unconscious beings
And take anything she wanted –
But it didn’t take long for them to join her in this newly conscious world.

After thousands of years of humans tricking one another
And getting pretty much nowhere –
One day, one of Eve’s descendants decided to “become herself” – i.e., her “true self”
And stop working so hard at trying to trick the rest of the world.

This descendant became her true self by mimicking “God” in human form,
And, as a result, became willing to lead human beings out of their ego-delimited world –
But, just before she could accomplish this,
Adam intervened by saying: “Get back, woman!”
The world is not finished with tricky male egos yet”
We still have a long way to go” –
Adam enforced this command with a warehouse full of iron patriarchal laws,
Male-preferenced customs, and an infinity of direct and indirect physical threats.

This worked!
So well, that Eve was compelled to step back from her new God-gifted freedom,
And, as a consequence, the world fell into Male-Ego Hell –
Which eventually got so bad that even Adam began to get scared
And thought he might want to invite Eve back into a more active role –
But Eve said “No” –
“Not me.” “Not now” – “unless and until you admit you’ve been a jerk” –
“And a violent jerk, at that!” –
Adam refused to admit this, and so the entire world died.

The end.

An alternative ending is Adam did admit he’d been a jerk –
And allowed Eve to re-gain her freedom –
Free, she looked around, and thought, again, it might be time for her to embody God –
But only the kind of God a woman could believe in:

A God closer to Nature –
A loving and family-friendly God –
A truthful God.

This God was entirely a female creation –
So that when Eve determined that her God was “good”
She was able to immediately step into her waiting role.

Eve became God, as a human being, much like Jesus had done in the past –
And, as a consequence, took her turn at saving the world!

The result was that men eventually became happier (even if reluctantly),
And the earth and all its other inhabitants – animal, vegetable, or mineral –
Were saved
Because Adam was willing to step aside
And allow Eve to become the kind of “God,” in human form, she best understood.

Now, all the beings on earth live happily, including all the Eves and Adams –

This is the second, and fortunately happy, ending.