Tag Archives: ego self

Chuck’s Place: The Power Of The Coin

Ask in alignment with heart, mind & spirit…
-Illustration © 2023 Jan Ketchel

In the solid world of everyday life a coin is an agreed upon object of stored energy for commerce. Our saved coin is our buying power.

Even in this most physical world, abstraction, or subtle reality, animates the value in coin. Without an agreed upon reality amongst humans—that assigns and allows coin to ‘contain’ a spirit energy—coin would hold no value.

At the soul level of reality, the appearance of a coin in a dream is a type of mandala, the outer attire of one’s High Self. Essentially, the High Self is affirming that this dream theme, accented by the coin’s appearance, is the next step on one’s path of individuation.

The use of a single coin throw for guidance is a very early predecessor to the I Ching,  an oracle which uses three coins tossed six times to create a highly differentiated hexagram of oracular wisdom. A single coin represents wholeness, via its circular shape, a shape that includes all that is. The two sides, heads and tails, give equal representation to Yang and Yin, the building blocks of everything.

Heads is assigned Yang. It is the masculine, active principle. When it appears, it says Yes to taking action. Tails is the feminine, receptive principle. When it appears, it says No, the time for action has not yet arrived, as things are still in utero. A single coin toss is only capable of reflecting a gross answer of either Yes or No, with no further elaboration.

Who is it that answers the question? The answer is, one’s High Self, or Spirit. In effect, one’s ego self poses its question to its High Self, which in turn answers Yes or No to the question posed. Sounds pretty straightforward, but actually much consideration and preparation are required to benefit from this oracle of the single coin.

Firstly, ego must assume full responsibility for its life. Ego can’t simply turn over this responsibility and sheepishly ask the High Self, as parent, to tell it what to do. High Self is the center of personality that insists ego evolve and expand consciousness through its thoughtful suffering of the travails of a human life. High Self will provide support and guidance but not the answers that ego must rightly figure out.

It’s not beneath the High Self to give a wrong answer if the ego is evading its responsibility in asking, or persists in over-asking. Even the I Ching has a reading, called Youthful Folly (hexagram #4), which reacts rather sternly to perseverating questioning:

“It is not I who seek the young fool;
The young fool seeks me.
At the first oracle I inform him.
If he asks two or three times, it is importunity.
If he importunes, I give him no information.”*

The expectation is that ego sit in the tension of the opposite possibilities inherent in the question it struggles with and, as objectively as possible, come to a tentative decision of what truly is right action.

Right action is action free of prejudice or secret motive, action truly in alignment with what is right to do in the situation being considered. This of course would be action in alignment with the High Self.

Having  done this preparatory work, ego is in a position to say to High Self, “I’ve done my due diligence. Are you in agreement with my conclusion?”

If the answer is No, it gives ego the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and to look further into its shadow, asking itself, “What am I missing?”

I personally have benefited much over the years by being directed to reflect again, shedding greater light upon the blindspot of shadow’s hidden influences.

Of equal importance is the reverence one assumes for the feedback received. If ego has already decided what it will do, and then rejects the contrary council of the coin, ego is truly guilty of insincerity in asking its question.

For true guidance, when approaching the coin, one must be open to the possibility of not doing what one has already decided to do.

This may mean returning to the drawing board to deeply consider why one feels so certain of getting a No answer. Of course, it could be possible that ego must go it alone and make a decision that defies even the Law of the High Self.

Was this not the situation in the Garden of Eden, where a law being broken gave birth to human consciousness and free will, the essential building blocks of planetary growth?

Indeed, this may be one of the High Self’s greatest tests for ego—to take responsibility for right action, even in the absence of any support.

The bottom line is that an oracle is really only helpful if used as a support to ego growth in its refinement of subjective motives, as they are transformed into service to the underlying truth of its being.

The real power of the coin rests in the sincerity of the seeker who turns to it for guidance. And though of great support, nothing replaces the primacy of ego assuming full responsibility for its growth in its sojourn in a human life.

Valuing the correct use of the coin,

*The I Ching or Book of Changes, Wilhelm edition, pp. 20-21

Chuck’s Place: Synchronicity & The Ego

Synchronicity: Spirit meets Matter…
– Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Synchronicity is a spiritual encounter in everyday life. Once, a scarab beetle plowed into Jan’s neck as we sat on our deck. It fell to the floor and lay there in a stunned stupor. Jan immediately identified it as a scarab beetle, a rare occurrence for the time of year. We later discovered that the encounter with the beetle occurred at the same time as the death of someone we knew, someone whom I had once animatedly discussed Jung’s experience of synchronicity with a patient involving a scarab beetle, a beetle rarely seen in his environment.

The meaning of this synchronous encounter was obvious: a departing soul sent us an undeniable farewell gift that I alone would unmistakably recognize. From the spiritual dimension contact was made with the physical dimension in a most meaningful and touching way. That’s a synchronicity.

My ego, the soul agent of everyday physical life, was critically necessary for remembering the long ago scarab beetle discussion, but, to truly be touched and taught by the experience, had to humble itself to a higher  power, higher than itself. The narrowly rational, doubting-Thomas, typical ego attitude of everyday life has a tendency to laugh off the experience as coincidence, or to inflate itself with spiritual airs for having had the experience.

Since the dominant spiritual dimension of our existence comes to life in our sleep/dream time and is largely lost to memory upon awakening, when ego reawakens to its governance over waking life, synchronicity can be seen as the Soul’s adroit use of physical reality to impress itself upon the ego’s limited knowledge of its greater Self.

Sometimes, synchronous events can seduce ego into recklessly misinterpreting their meaning and inflating itself in its decision making. Stan Grof humbly shared his experience of a celestially romantic relationship with Joan Halifax in his book, When the Impossible Happens, that led to an impulsive decision to marry during a transpersonal conference in Iceland, which was attended by Joseph Campbell and officiated by Huston Smith.

The relationship, or non-conscious relationship, between Joan and Stan lasted very briefly after Iceland. Joan went on to become Joan Jiko Halifax, a famous American Buddhist teacher, founder of, and currently Abbot of, the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. Stan went on to marry Christina Grof with whom he collaborated on the creation of Holotropic Breathwork to gain non-drug induced access to the spiritual depths of the psyche. Both Stan and Joan were humbled and advanced in their relationship with Soul and the language of synchronicity through this memorable coupling and uncoupling.

The lesson of Iceland was for ego to become humbled but not intoxicated by the power of synchronicity orchestrated by the Soul. Ego must also assume 100% responsibility for its decisions in this world. Ego craves union and connection with its higher Soul, or Higher Power, but must retain decision making responsibility in the life it is currently in. Synchronicities may offer numinous spiritual experiences of Soul union, but Soul refuses to do the work of ego: to reflect, think, feel, intuit and decide.

If Soul already knew the answers to the life we are in, how would it benefit from sending us into this life? What would be the point? We are here on a mission of growth, ultimately accrued to the benefit of our greater Soul. Granted, Soul has much wisdom, resource, and power, but it requires of ego to access that guidance and apply it, as feels right for itself. Even if ego is mistaken in its judgment, it will learn and grow from its mistakes.

High Soul uses its power of synchronicity to help ego grow. Sometimes that means being the trickster, as in Stan and Joan’s Icelandic adventure. At other times, synchronicity lends itself to facilitating a meeting of souls, as was the case with Jan and my encounter with the scarab beetle.

Synchronicity can also be straightforward with spiritual guidance, as with the I Ching. Throwing physical coins is correlated with spiritual tuning in and guidance. Yet even the I Ching will become a trickster if ego becomes overly dependent, constantly deferring its decision making responsibility. Sometimes it gives you a totally inappropriate reading, essentially communicating: Wake up! Think for yourself!

In step three of the Twelve Steps of AA, a person in recovery is required to turn over the ego’s decision making to their Higher Power. Bill Wilson, cofounder of AA, was given the Twelve Steps in a direct encounter with his Higher Power during a therapeutic LSD therapy session. The function of step three is to refine and grow ego responsibility by first submitting it to the guidance of its Higher Power.

In the case of an addict, ego’s alienation from its Soul leads to attempts to merge with Soul through the use of excess substance, creating habitual spirit misfires, resulting in addiction. Step three suspends habitual behavior, while ego undertakes an honest life review and prepares to become a mature version of itself, with the support and leadership of its Soul. Eventually, ego is able to take full ownership of its life, and thus its decisions reflect the higher intent of its Soul.

When synchronicities occur, enjoy their numinous welcome but be careful with how you interpret and act upon their apparent insinuations.

Be humble before Soul, but never give up assuming full responsibility for decision making. That’s our deepest reason for being in this life.

Assuming responsibility,

Soulbyte for Wednesday June 30, 2021

A path of heart is one in which the heart leads and spirit shows the way, where ego learns its place and is but a stabling entity rather than an overpowering force. When spirit speaks through the heart, ego steps aside to listen and consider that there may be another and better way. This is ego in alignment with spirit. Turn in the direction of spirit more often and let it guide you to what is right. In this manner no part of you will suffer but all will travel through life knowing they gave it their all on your path of heart.

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Chuck’s Place: Spirit More

Spirit comes down to earth…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In addition to the petty tyrants that all people are impacted by—in their outer lives in the everyday world—is the tyrant within, the one that has us do what our more enlightened self would have us not do. Who is that mysterious other that upends our clearest, most grounded rational intentions, in a heartbeat?

That mysterious other is indeed a spirit, recognizable by its insatiable appetite for more. Rightly situated, that hunger for freedom is what propels the energy body to explore the universe, also in a heartbeat. Command of that spirit in dreaming is the goal of all spiritual seekers, as they prove for themselves the fuller capabilities of all that we are.

However, when that same spirit more projects itself upon the object world of everyday life it fixates on substances, objects, behaviors and people to quench its insatiable appetite for more. This is the obvious basis of all addictions: Our insatiable spiritual appetite entwined with the concrete objects of this world.

Being an insatiable spirit, it stands to reason that enough will never be enough. When spirit more attaches, obsession without end—its version of infinity—is its marching orders. Once spirit more takes up residence in ego spirit’s domain (the world of everyday life), ego is easily mesmerized by the promise of ecstatic fulfillment.

The problem with spirit more’s perspective of everyday life is that it acts there the way it acts in its pure energy body state. In that spiritual state anything is possible and time is largely nonexistent. Spirit more does not have to face the aging and dying of the human body, it lives in infinity.

The human body, in contrast, has its definite limits and fixed duration of life. When driven and controlled by spirit more, it is subject to illness and injury, as well as the distorted idea that it will live forever. It can cause many to delay their growth because they believe they have forever.

Of course, a touch of spirit more sprinkled lightly upon the affairs of everyday life is extremely helpful and energizing. Spirit more is a source of magic in everyday life. However, its proper domain is the energetic world of dreaming, where its true ambitions can be realized. When left to roam freely in the playing field of everyday life it wreaks havoc.

This is the heart of the opioid crisis. This is at the heart of the greed currently controlling the world. Spirit more can act as a tyrant when it infiltrates the psyche of a leader. We do well to view it as a misplaced spiritual drive, rather than our manifest destiny to entitlement.

In the world of everyday life, we are spirit beings in finite bodies. In the world of spirit, we are infinite beings, currently engaged in an enriching time-limited human form adventure. To integrate our spirit longings with our physical limitations is our deepest challenge in this life.

Honor spirit more by allowing its touch in everyday life, but be sure that ego spirit remains effectively in control at the heart center. In return, intend to journey with spirit more in its infinite playing field through the gateway of the dream.

Find fulfillment in both realms, but never confuse who should be in charge in their respective domains.

On the adventure,


Chuck’s Place: Encounter

Feeling incomplete? Scattered? Scared? Can't quite see clearly yet? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Feeling incomplete? Scattered? Scared? Can’t quite see clearly yet?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

For the past few weeks I have been drawn to the topic of sub-personalities. Jung called them complexes; independent amalgams of ideas, experiences, and feeling tones that operate autonomously within the personality, each with their own motive, voice, and point of view.

These sub-personalities may be actual younger versions of ourselves, underdeveloped parts of ourselves, or frozen parts that were split off during traumatic experiences. As well, these inner voices might be from the transpersonal realm of our psyche: past life, archetypal or mythical entities that have become active beneath consciousness, influencing daily life.

Out of these many sub-personalities emerges one dominant personality that establishes a consistent identity, what we commonly call I, what Freud called the Ego Self.

The ego self is the leader that takes charge of consciousness and decides how we will navigate life. The ego is home base and must be finely tuned and safeguarded to take on the awesome challenge of reconciling all the inner needs and concerns of the sub-personalities, as well as establishing a stable foothold in the outside world.

The ego must also interact with the spirit self or higher self. Ruth White, in Using Your Chakras, writes: “The concept of the higher self…may lead us to suppose that the higher self is in charge and is the integrating force which we seek. Yet the being which we are on earth, the personality from which we function, fully exists in its own right. If we are too anxious to let the higher self take over, we may give insufficient importance to ego development. The tool which the higher self would use is then insufficiently formed and could be subject to delusions of grandeur, inability to make choices, slavishness to authority, a sense of non-being, or psychosis.

Thus, though the ego self must not overstep its bounds, by usurping the identity of the higher self, it is fully charged to establish firm boundaries and decisively mediate actions to be taken in this world. To inhabit this state I often suggest that people draw circles with firm boundaries, representing a firm ego self. Inside the circle exists a state of calmness within which the intent to be objective is set. The ego self must make decisions, and to do this well it must be freed of negative judgments that cloud objective processing. The ego must deal only with facts to process the points of view and nuggets of truth held by the cluster of sub-personalities that reside in the greater self.

The grand work of individuation is to find out who you truly are in this lifetime... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The grand work of individuation is to find out who you truly are in this lifetime…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The ego must be able to hold its own; that is, avoid contamination or states of possession when it encounters the moods, beliefs, images and sensations of sub-personalities that strongly seek to influence the decisions that the ego must make as it navigates life. The goal is wholeness of personality, all parts cohesively integrated. This is a lifetime opus, the grand work of individuation.

Jan shared her dream of the square in her blog this week—her place of power, calm meditation and retreat—where she could be completely calm and safe from the storms of interfering energy within or outside of the self. Like my circle-drawing suggestion, her square serves a similar function, introducing mandalas as safe havens for ego consciousness to get calm, be objective, and process and decide how to reconcile its inevitable encounters with sub-personalities.

After a brief discussion of the circle and the square, Jan and I decided to jointly throw the I Ching, alternating the throwing of the coins. We received the hexagram of Breakthrough/Resoluteness, #43. This hexagram depicts the inevitable encounters we must have with swollen energies that gather in intensity and seek release, the energetics of encounters with sub-personalities. The ego is warned, “Even a single passion still lurking in the heart has the power to obscure reason.” Calm objectivity must be the ruling dominant power in the fortress.

The I Ching further states: “…resolution must be based on a union of strength and friendliness.” Thus, when we encounter sub-personalities, we are warned to stay strong, to not be bullied but to establish that we come in peace, seeking truth and reconciliation.

…the struggle must not be carried on directly by force,” says the I Ching. Thus, if we engage in battle—which is negativity and judgment—with a sub-personality, we risk possession as we deplete our energy in an unnecessary power struggle where we lose our objective edge.

Finally, the I Ching states: “If a man were to pile up riches for himself alone, without considering others, he would certainly experience a collapse. For all gathering is followed by dispersion.” The ego is strongly warned to be fair in making decisions about what endeavors will be funded in the resolute actions of daily life. If the ego is prejudiced in its interactions and judgments of sub-personalities, it risks violent collapse through revolutionary encounters that seek a change of attitude. These can take the form of compulsions or deep depressions.

The true self that finally emerges might look a whole lot different from what you had imagined! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The true self that finally emerges might look a whole lot different from what you had imagined!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The correct position of the ego is as a firm but benevolent ruler that fairly administers the states of the personality and aligns itself with the spirit intent of the higher self.

All encounters have their dangers, but only through encounter can we fully discover and achieve the wholeness we seek. Properly armed with strength and objectivity, we are ready to advance toward union, finally reconciling our sub-personalities. In our new wholeness we are offered fulfillment now, in this lifetime, and as we journey forward and take our definitive journey in infinity.

From inside the circle,

On a synchronistic note: In her blog Jan also noticed how everything was in such alignment. Well, she happened upon this little essay from Eric Francis at Planet Waves, right in alignment with what I had been pondering for weeks and write about in this blog, sub-personalities or what Francis calls The Hemisphere Effect. Take a look, another take on it all.