The purpose of life is to know the true nature of our “I” or “Self.” We let go of one restrictive or separative notion of “self” after another and mount the ladder of spiritual knowledge until we’re left with the knowledge of the only Subject of All, the One without a second, the absolute “I am.”
Rene Descartes said long ago: Cogito ergo sum, translated as “I think; therefore I am.” (1) He was right in a way I don’t believe he intended: I think; therefore the ego is.
What we mean by the “ego” is a product of thought. We think and remember our thoughts and the product or creation of those thoughts is the ego.
The ego is sometimes called the mind and the being comes to be associated with the mind’s memories as Sri Rajneesh explains here:
“From where does this ego come which thinks, ‘I am. I am doing’? It comes through memory. Your memory goes on recording happenings: you are born, you are a child; then youth comes, then you are old. Things happen: love happens, hatred happens, and the memory goes on recording it. When you look at the past, the whole accumulated memory becomes your ‘I.’” (2.)
The ego is separative, dualistic. I as the ego am here; you as the ego are there. And never the twain shall meet, so we believe.
Paramount to the ego is ensuring the survival of the being and everything the ego identifies as the being, as belonging to the being, as being necessary for the survival of the being, etc. Werner Erhard put the matter as succinctly as anyone ever has.
“The mind is a linear arrangement of multisensory, total records of successive moments of now. Its purpose, its design function, is survival: the survival of the being and anything which it considers itself to be.
“When the being identifies itself with its mind, we call this state of affairs the ego and it means that the mind’s purpose becomes the survival of the mind itself. For the mind to survive, it tries to keep itself intact, it seeks agreement, and tries to avoid disagreement.
“It wants to dominate and to avoid domination. It wants to justify its points of view, conclusions, decisions, and avoid invalidation. … Running through it all, over it all, is the unending effort of the mind to prove itself right.” (3)
To dominate and avoid being dominated, the ego exercises a self-serving bias. It maximizes its own victories and gains and minimizes its own defeats and losses. It minimizes the victories and gains of others and maximizes their defeats and losses. It denies responsibility for all wrong-doing and lays claim to all right-doing. It attacks others and defends itself.
It seeks pleasure and avoids pain, as Sri Shankara explains.
“He who believes himself to be acting or experiencing is known as the ego, the individual man. … When the objects of experience are pleasant, he is happy. When they are unpleasant, he is unhappy. Pleasure and pain are characteristics of the individual — not of the Atman, which is forever blissful.” (4)
The Atman is another “I,” the Self, our “original face.” The Atman or Self or Christ is not a product of thought, is not separative, and is not bent on ensuring its own survival. It knows itself as permanent, immortal. Fire cannot burn it; water cannot drown it; nothing can harm it or modify it in any way.
We go from one sense of self to another in our spiritual journey from and back to God. Each succeeding sense of self is more umbrageous and inclusive than the one before. Our direction is from self-consciousness to Self-consciousness or Self-realization.
Many teachers have said that Self-realization comes with death of the ego. Others say that the ego never dies, but simply becomes, at some point, an obedient servant.
When Jesus said: “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death,” (5) he was referring to the death of the ego (the first death), which saves an individual from being hurt by the the death of the body (the second death).
Others said similar things:
Lao Tzu: “Long life it is to die and not perish.” (6)
Ibn Arabi: ”Die before dying.” (7)
Paramahansa Yogananda: “I killed Yogananda long ago. No one dwells in this temple now but God.” (8)
Andrew Cohen: “What is the price [of enlightenment]? Ego death.” (9)
What would be more accurate to say, I think, is that the stillness of the mind is what invites Self-Realization. I say “invites” because enlightenment remains the gift of God. No effort of ours can secure it. Only the Mother can bestow it.
Hence Bernadette Roberts could say: “At a certain point, when we have done all we can [to bring about an abiding union with the divine], the divine steps in and takes over.” (10) We take a few steps toward God and God leaps a mile toward us.
The Upanishads tell us:
“When all the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not — then, say the wise, is reached the highest state. This calm of the senses and the mind has been defined as yoga. He who attains it is freed from delusion.” (11)
This was the meaning of Krishna’s saying: “’The light of a lamp does not flicker in a windless place.”
“When, through the practice of yoga, the mind ceases its restless movements, and becomes still, he realizes the Atman. It satisfies him entirely. Then he knows that infinite happiness which can be realized by the purified heart but is beyond the grasp of the senses”. (12)
The Buddha had already achieved God-Realization before he sat down in meditation to finish the job. He knew there was more to go because he still detected movement or waves (vrittis) in the mind. He did not get up again until there was no more movement in the mind.
I think this was also the state that Lao-Tzu was referring to when he said: “Touch ultimate emptiness, Hold steady and still.” (13)
And that Patanjali was describing when he said: “When … there are no more thought-waves at all in the mind, then one enters the samadhi which is called ‘seedless.’” (14) I believe that samadhi is what Sri Ramana Maharshi called “sahaja samadhi,” the natural state, (15) and it’s the state that we’ll be in, not with Ascension, but after penetrating Fifth-Dimensionality further than our initial arrival in it.
The Divine Mother explained:
Steve Beckow: When does Sahaja Samadhi occur?
Divine Mother: It occurs with a more gradual awakening and lifting up. So there is the abrupt “I am not the same,” then there is the working and the anchoring, the integration, then there is another jump, and another jump, and another jump. And you don’t know it — well, some of you do — but you are leap-frogging. And then you will be there.
SB: Now, are those jumps equivalent to sub-planes?
DM: You can think of it as sub-planes, dimensional sub-planes, yes. (16)
Many of us lightworkers are by now well used to thinking in terms of the separative and dualistic self of the Third Dimension and the inclusive and unitive Self of the Fifth Dimension. We look forward to Ascension and the events that follow it to free us from the lesser round of life in which we merely seek pleasure and avoid pain, ensure our own survival in a competitive world, and build a world that works for us against them.
The world that we’ll build will be cooperative, inclusive, unitive, a world that works for us and them, for all of us.
(1) Rene Descartes, Principles of Philosophy. 1644.
(2) Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, I am the Gate. The Meaning of Initiation and Discipleship. New York, etc.: Harper Colophon, 1977; c1975, 8
(3) Luke Rhineheart, The Book of est. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1976, 174. Summarizing Werner.
(4) Shankara in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher lsherwood, Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1975; c1947, 48.
(5) Jesus in Revelation 2:11.
(6) Lao Tzu, The Way of Life. The Tao Te Ching. trans. R.B. Blakney. New York, etc.: Avon, 1975, 86.
(7) Muhyideen Ibn Arabi, Kernel of the Kernel. trans. Ismail Hakki Bursevi. Sherborne: Beshara, n.d., 37.
(8) Paramahansa Yogananda in Swami Kriyananda, The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi, 219.
(9) Andrew Cohen. In Defence of the Guru Principle. Lenox: Moksha Press, 1999, 13.
(10) Bernadette Roberts, “The Path to No-Self” in Stephan Bodian, ed. Timeless Visions, Healing Voices. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1991, 131.
(11) Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester, trans., The Upanishads. Breath of the Eternal. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1957; c1948, 24.
(12) Sri Krishna in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944 66.
(13) Lao Tzu, The Way of Life. The Tao Te Ching. trans. R.B. Blakney. New York, etc.: Avon, 1975, 68.
(14) Patanjali in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., How to Know God. The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. New York, etc.: New American Library, 1969; c1953, 61.
(15) “This is Self-realization, Mukti, or Sahaja Samadhi, the natural, effortless state.” (Ramana Maharshi in S.S. Cohen, Guru Ramana. Memories and Notes. 6th edition. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1993, 83.)
(16) “The Divine Mother: We are Creating a New Species of Humans,” July 12, 2014, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2014/07/12/the-divine-mother-we-are-creating-a-new-species-of-humans/.