“To seek freedom… be like the flame of a candle, which, in spite of being up against the light of a billion stars, remains intact, because it never pretended to be more than what it is: a mere candle.” – Don Juan Matus, from The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
It’s a mighty challenge to be born into this life as an ego, a limited point of consciousness, separated from its greater wholeness. This limitation is the price we pay to exclusively explore one facet of the fuller diamond we are, in a life that begins and ends in space/time.
Ego has risen beyond the control of its own instinctual nature into a being capable of making its own decisions. This evolution beyond the strict control of its subconscious programming has given rise to civilization and human domination of the Earth.
This moment we are now living in is the ultimate exploration of ego’s freedom to consider only itself —its wants and needs— as the basis of its governing decisions. The sky is the limit for the ego of now, much like Icarus, whose intoxication with flying on his wax wings drew him higher and closer to the sun.
It’s inevitable that ego test the limits of its power. Simply observe the toddler testing its newfound powers of locomotion. Caution is thrown to the wind in the thrill of discovery and autonomous movement. This same excitement of power and mastery accompanies ego at all stages of life.
Truthfully, however, underneath it all, ego knows it is inherently inadequate. How could it be otherwise? Ego is but a fragment of its greater wholeness. Ego’s underlying instinctual programming has heralded evolution, devoid of consciousness. Ego’s now conscious ability to negate that programming is a tremendous feat, but ego also lacks the wisdom packed into those archetypal programs. Managing the survival of the planet requires more wisdom than ego can possibly amass in its limited time on Earth.
The evolutionary challenge now posed to ego is to rise above its egoism and discover a higher authority within itself that can teach it the path of right action. Ego must silence its own internal dialogue that incessantly attempts to keep it secure in its knowing of everything. In the silence beyond that chatter is the voice of wisdom that resides in the mature heart.
Ego needn’t feel ashamed of its objective inadequacy. Ego has the unparalleled gift of consciousness, but it must discover how to exercise its powers in the service of the greater whole that it is but a fragment of. Ego is not yet convinced it can’t simply go it alone, hence, it is currently testing the hypothesis that it is all that there is.
After the fall of this experiment, ego, like Icarus will come down to Earth with the humility proper to its status. This is the ego that will accept that it is indeed but a solitary candle amidst the light of a billion stars. However, this acceptance of its smallness, lacking any illusory inflation, is the attitude that will protect that flame from perhaps ever blowing out.
May we all find our way to the smallness of a single candle flame. With such humility, we connect to the wisdom awaiting us all in our mature hearts.