(Continued from Part 1.)
The second layer is the constructed self, (3) which is like a house built from vasanas.
In response to our vasanas, we create a persona or mask. We live within the parameters of this created self, fashioned out of our decisions as to how to react in the future so that we don’t land up again facing the situations we fear.
Another way of looking at things is to say that the constructed self is built from all that we’ve done, felt, and thought about the trauma we’ve experienced in the past. I believe this constructed self is what will now collapse.
I’ve had the experience of departing the constructed self. The way I did it was to mentally stamp my foot and say “No!” with an intentionality that felt as if it came from the whole of me, at which point the constructed self fell silent and seemed to have departed. It does return, but it has never been as troublesome as it was before.
And I discovered that such emotions as worry, anxiety, fear, etc., only existed within the constructed self, not outside, a very pleasant discovery.
The third troublesome layer is our ego. We could think of our ego as our auto-pilot. We can use it to fly the plane, even though we remain ultimately in control and responsible for our actions.
The ego wasn’t always troublesome. It served us well during a period in which we tried to outcompete and even vanquish our neighbor. It definitely suits and serves the caveman in us. And as long as endeavored to remain the top Neanderthal on the block, it was our trusted friend and ally.
It just doesn’t serve us when we want to leave all that behind.
“Ego” is the Latin word for “I.” We have many “I’s” and the ego is one of them. Our lives are about going deeper and deeper into the mystery of who “I” is. Ultimately we’ll find that our “I” is the same as everyone’s “I” and that that “I” is God.
But at a more superficial level, that “I” is the ego, the sense of us as separate beings.
To say that the constructed self will collapse or that we’ll pull ourselves out of it is not to imply the death of the ego. The ego itself is far more resilient than the constructed self and persists through many levels of enlightenment.
The ego lives on separation, duality, and polarity and doesn’t want to surrender itself easily. It bristles at anything that seems to threaten its survival – enlightenment above all. It resurrects itself after enlightenment, as Sri Ramakrishna describes here:
“‘I-consciousness’ persists. It disappears in the state of samadhi, no doubt, but it comes back. In the case of ordinary people the ‘I’ never disappears. You may cut down the aswattha tree, but the next day sprouts shoot up.” (4)
“You may reason a thousand times, but you cannot get rid of the ego. The ego is like a pitcher, and Brahman like the ocean — an infinite expanse of water on all sides. The pitcher is set in the ocean. The water is both inside and out; the water is everywhere; yet the pitcher remains. … As long as the ego remains, ‘you’ and ‘I’ remain. … The ego cannot be got rid of; so let the rascal remain as the servant of God, the devotee of God.” (5)
I actually saw the face of my ego once in a moment of stress and it was a fearsome sight: red in the face, consumed by anger, a raging fiend. That scared me straight, you’d better believe!
Andrew Cohen once said: “What is the price [of enlightenment]? Ego death.” (6) But the ego does not die with the stages of enlightenment prior to at least Fifth Dimensionality. Whether it dies then or is simply attenuated, I’m not certain.
But the constructed self can be left behind.
The situation with the constructed self is rather like a knight being encased in a suit of armor. The suit of armor is the constructed self. The knight, when he steps outside the armor, retains his ego, but is free of the confinement of the armor plating.
Many, many of us are seeing our vasanas quiet down after years of processing them. But we may not have stepped outside the constructed self.
And we need to learn how to recognize when the ego auto-pilot is on and manually disconnect from it when it seeks to fly us into territory where we don’t want to go. It remains useful to tell us when we’re about to walk against a red light or call someone by the wrong name. But its usefulness will shrink and shrink in the times ahead.
What is the one best answer to all this processing of “toxic negativity”? For me, the one best answer is to do with it what God does with it. We could also have said to respond with the new paradigm of the divine qualities.
God does not resist so let me not resist what’s occurring.
God is passive awareness so let me be passively aware of what’s occurring. Let me be with it, without resisting it, simply observing it until it disappears.
Awareness is not neutral. Awareness is like a solvent. What we observe with passive awareness will pass away as quickly as it will for anything.
Of course it’ll have its own time and cannot be rushed. But it will disappear fastest if we simply allow and observe.
What we resist persists. What we accept passes away. As Sri Rajneesh and many other sages are fond of saying: This too will pass. It’s only if we resist it that it persists.
And if it passes away through our observing and accepting it, we’ll have peeled away one more layer instead of reacting to it and creating a fresh one.
(1) The Hathors through Tom Kenyon, “Orchidium,” June 27, 2013, at http://tomkenyon.com/orchidium.
(2) There is an extensive literature on how to source or complete vasanas, on this site. See: “On Processing Vasanas” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/on-processing-vasanas/. However the advice given above as to how to be with a vasana is for me the essence of the matter.
(3) You can find articles on the constructed self under “The Path of Awareness” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/spiritual-essays/the-path-of-awareness/.
(4) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, Swami, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 105.
(5) Sri Ramakrishna in GSR, 708.
(6) Andrew Cohen, In Defence of the Guru Principle. Lenox: Moksha Press, 1999, 13.