So often we focus on the will of the High Self, or if you will the God/Goddess in us, and where we are in relation to it. “Am I in the right alignment?” is the frequent question. This would suggest that the ego, or consciousness, is seeking to be the willing servant to what is truly right.
Though not disputing the validity of this charge, we need also to focus on the opposite, the importance and dependence of the Self upon the ego. If the Self is our true wholeness, the eternal within us, represented as a diamond, then the ego is one facet of that diamond. This ego facet of the Self acts in this world through thought, decision, and action.
The Self absolutely needs the ego to take life forward in this human dream we call our earthly existence. The Self beckons us to advance life in novel and creative directions, to evolve the growing experience of the greater Self as it continues to journey in infinity. The ego is its arm in the time/space continuum. The ego matters. If the Self is the active side of infinity, the ego is its active side in human life.
A recent dream, told to me by a creative artist, illustrates this point. I paraphrase his telling of the dream: He was walking along through a glass tunnel, an aquarium type setting, clutching a big fish to his chest. He could see the open sea beyond the glass. The fish was dry. He noticed some water on the ground and a pail. He put the fish down to go and scoop up some of the water into the pail when the fish somehow escaped into the open sea. He immediately entered the vast ocean in pursuit of the fish. At one point the fish hesitated, turned and looked at him, and he was able to grab it, leave the ocean and get back into the tunnel. Once there he put the fish into the pail.
The most important feature of this dream is that the fish allowed itself to be caught. A fish is quite at home in the vast ocean, yet it allowed itself to literally be taken out of its element. The ocean is the beginning matrix of all life, the most powerful symbol of the collective unconscious, infinity itself. The fish is frequently associated with Christ, a powerful symbol of the Self. Clearly, the Self in this dream allows itself to be “captured” in the pail of this world, taken out of its infinite freedom to live in the hands of the dreamer. The Self depends upon and seeks out the dreamer to have the experience of life in this world.
Of course, the ego must decide how to truly fulfill life and the greater needs of the Self. What kind of life is it to stick the Self in the mere confines of a pail? I think the Self is challenging the dreamer to reflect on this use of vital life energy and creative potential.
The truth is though, the ego is free to chart its own course, but if that course is out of balance, or too estranged from the deeper Self, there will be a rupture in the Tao, in the harmonious flow of life energy from the depths of the unconscious, from the depths of infinity.
Carl Jung never tired of telling the story of the Taoist rainmaker, told to him by his dear friend Richard Wilhelm, translator of the I Ching. Here is that story:
“Richard Wilhelm was in a remote Chinese village which was suffering from a most unusually prolonged drought. Everything had been done to put an end to it, and every kind of prayer and charm had been used, but all to no avail. So the elders of the village told Wilhelm that the only thing to do was to send for a rainmaker from a distance. This interested him enormously and he was careful to be present when the rainmaker arrived. He came in a covered cart, a small, wizened old man. He got out of the cart, sniffed the air in distaste, then asked for a cottage on the outskirts of the village. He made the condition that no one should disturb him and that his food should be put outside the door. Nothing was heard from him for three days, then everyone woke up to a downpour of rain. It even snowed, which was unknown at that time of year.”
“Wilhelm was greatly impressed and sought out the rainmaker, who had now come out of his seclusion. Wilhelm asked him in wonder: “So you can make rain?” The old man scoffed at the very idea and said of course he could not. “But there was the most persistent drought until you came,” Wilhelm retorted, “and then—within three days—it rains?” “Oh,” replied the old man, “that was something quite different. You see, I come from a region where everything is in order, it rains when it should and is fine when that is needed, and the people also are in order and in themselves. But that was not the case with the people here, they were all out of Tao and out of themselves. I was at once infected when I arrived, so I had to be quite alone until I was once more in Tao and then naturally it rained!”” *
This story illustrates the mutual dependence of ego and Self. On the one hand, the ego must acknowledge when it is truly out of alignment with the Self. When the flow of life energy is blocked, the rain ceases to fall.
On the other hand, it rests with the ego to voluntarily do the work, in whatever form, facing deep truths, meditating, etc., to restore the balance and bring life back into the right relationship with the Self if life is to once again flow in a nurturing way into this world.
What the world needs now, and what we are indeed on our way to establishing, is the mutual dependence of ego and Self, together in the Tao. May we all become the rainmakers and find the needed balance to restore harmony in this magnificent dream we are all dreaming together.
*Story quoted from: Jung, His Life and Work, Barbara Hannah, p.128