My ego makes an appearance in dreaming. It wants to be selected to participate in a cross-country ski race, sure it will win. It is not even considered, though it makes itself known, insisting that it be picked. Someone else, however, is selected for the team. The selection committee does not even notice my ego, in fact seems to be ignoring it on purpose despite its loud and obnoxious attempt to be seen and heard. My dreaming observer self is aware of how ludicrous the ego’s insistence is because I am totally out of shape for such a feat, have not skied in years, and I don’t even own a pair of skis. None of this matters to my ego. It inflates and inflates, totally ignoring all the obvious truths.
My ego, which keeps a pretty low profile in waking life, must have needed an outlet, for it surely came to life in my dream. I have to laugh at how big it was, how insistent in spite of the truth! Perhaps far better to let it play out its issues of inflation in a bardo dream, especially designed for its drama, allowing waking life to be relieved of its struggles.
About 14 years ago, when I was doing my recapitulation, I had a sadly deflated ego. It was all I could do to wake it up and make my way in the world. A little too deflated, it rarely stood up for me, rarely was so insistent as in my dream. I worked on it and got it into alignment with the life I was building, a post-divorce, post-recapitulation life where I needed a well-rounded ego and a good sense of self-worth. Since then I have discovered that the ego comes in many colors, wears many costumes, and makes many appearances.
A couple of weeks ago in my blog entitled Gazing, I wrote about being guided to understand that if one is to reach a true place of love, compassion, kindness and to experience the oneness of everything, one of the most important things is to shed the ego’s self interest. It’s a constant process because, as my guidance explained, everything is egocentric. Even my writing this blog and hoping that someone will find it helpful—a good intention—is egocentric. But this is what I do, it’s part of who I am, so I will continue to write this blog, but then I will let it go and move on, no attachment to outcome. That is one way to deal with ego. Do the job before you, do it impeccably, and then move on. There is rarely a need to turn back if the job is done right the first time. This is our ego serving the needs of the higher self.
Often my ego is sluggish. It refuses to do certain things, only wants to do what it wants. It’s pretty annoying then. Such a time is not a time for shedding, but instead a time to pry it out of the mud and get it moving. Only after missions are accomplished, fully, is it appropriate to retire the ego. We could not function in the world if we did not keep our ego in good shape.
So, how does an ego in good shape act and feel? Well, an ego in good shape is in alignment with our spirit’s intent to live an ever-evolving life. It isn’t too inflated or too deflated. It resides in alignment with our spirit, inside and outside, within the natural ebb and flow of our life. It’s pliable, eager to learn, and yet also sometimes recalcitrant as all heck. Whatever the ego presents is probably a true picture of where we are in our lives, what our key issues are, and what we must work on. It’s a pretty good barometer of how we are really feeling from day to day too.
An ego in alignment and balance knows when to act, when to react, and when to back down. It reads the energy of a situation and makes a decision about whether or not its worth a fight and why. Often the ego may jump ahead and do something before thoughtful contemplation has a chance to intercede and that might cause issues. Other times it’s not quick enough and that will also cause issues. All of this takes time and attention before the ego is naturally in balance with spirit all the time, which might take most of a lifetime, or many lifetimes. I know, I’m still working on it! These are just some of the instances that might arise as the ego navigates the outer world. The ego in the inner world is another creature altogether.
This ego, made up of thoughts, ideas, voices, is often connected to the child self, the unfulfilled self, the negative or positive self, the happy-go-lucky self, the unstoppable self, the fearful self, the demeaning self, or any number of alter egos. This ego is the judge, the one who makes decisions and keeps a running commentary going, who criticizes and gets angry. This is the ego that speaks volumes as well, who notices every little thing that’s right, that’s wrong, that’s gone unnoticed, unappreciated, or is perfect and should not change at all. It is not shy about pointing all these things out either. This ego can get us into as much trouble as the outer ego because it contains all the same parts, known and unknown, freed and held back, expressed and unexpressed. As the guidance in Gazing told me, everything is ego attachment, and thus eventually everything needs to be shed.
Such advice needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Far better to have ego imbalance than to shed too much too fast. When we are ready the shedding happens naturally. When I was twenty-one I sure needed an ego. That age is a time of ego-building in the world, as one sets out to find out what life has in store, as one learns about the world and how to live in it and survive.
Everyone experiences life at their own pace, equipped with whatever they have when they start out. Some people are gifted with healthy egos right from the start, others less so, but all of us must strive to get them in balance. As I learned, a deflated ego was as detrimental as an overly inflated one. I was always quick to notice a big ego in someone else, but did I feel any more superior because of not having such an inflated ego? Not in the least, my self-esteem was in the pits and it never afforded me much compensatory feeling. I was still who I was, no matter who someone else turned out to be.
And so, as we build our egos we also learn how they tend to be approached, treated, admired, defeated and even trampled on. If we are aware of the work to be done, determined to get that ego into alignment so that it does not always feel so bruised, we are open and ready to take everything as a learning ground. We pick ourselves up and go out again and again into the world, even if we don’t want to, because we know we have to. We know we are on a journey that serves a higher purpose.
We all have to grow up, and part of that growing up is presenting our egos to the world. It’s in the outer ego’s trials and tribulations that we temper and tame the inner ego’s judgments, criticisms, and outlandish ideas. Between the two, we have everything we need to succeed at getting into alignment with what our spirit has in store for us, to eventually evolve into beings of love, kindness, and compassion.
If we are to become such evolved beings then, yes, we must constantly attend to and relativize our egos. It is the role of the ego, as an independent entity, to serve the spirit. And so, aspirations independent of spirit need to constantly be shed.
In other words: just as ego is the parent of the child self, so is ego the child of the spirit self. And just as the child self must merge with the ego, so ego’s will must be merged with spirit. This is true shedding of the ego. Once that occurs we become the gentle, nonjudgmental, kind and compassionate beings that we all really are, spirit beings, who are not only believers of love but are love, loving beings all the time, to everyone and to everything.
This emergence of spirit self is, in the end, the true shedding of the ego self. And then, when we shed the body, when we are ready to meet the infinite, we will glide right on into the oneness of everything, for there will be no ego stopping us, arguing with us, afraid or concerned. We will be in total alignment with spirit, with all of life, with the natural easing out of one form and into another.