Much is said about ego, the reduction of its influences, and how that process can improve your life for the better. I speak about ego a lot. I know you can get sick of it, because I even get sick of it. But as explained in my podcast, the ego is the source of all pain and suffering, and yes, the reduction of its effects will bring you a heightened level of inner peace, if not also a more direct path to God. But there’s something we need to make clear:
Truthfully, I believe that no one can be completely free of ego. This of course, by my own definitions in the Body Mind Spirit model, must be true as that by definition the ego is “the mind’s perception of self”. Even if I think I am a human that has passed through the enlightenment experience and now am devoid of pain and suffering… that thought… is still ego within the mind… my mind’s definition of self.
Even one of the most enlightened teachers on the planet, Eckhart Tolle, has answered the question that he is “free” of ego. But this does not mean he does not have an ego at all. Eckhart has admitted to feeling emotions from time to time. It is because of his heightened awareness that he is immediately able to let them subside so as not to cause a disruption in his life… but they still exist within him, if just for a few seconds.
It’s not that enlightened people don’t have ego. Enlightened people are simply detached from ego. This ego has much less of an effect (almost none) in our lives because basically the mindful understanding of self has become more closely aligned with the true identity within (the true self) that gets revealed through the spontaneous (and virtually ego-killing) spiritual enlightenment experience. The fully enlightened being lays down to die so as to be free of the human and limited form (there are numerous stories from history of people who have willfully laid down to die and leave their body). Any human that goes through the enlightenment experience and chooses not to lay down and die… and who stays here on Earth… must then contend with a limited body and limited mind that cannot hold the infinite knowledge and wisdom which they touched and shared with God during that direct communion with Him (if only for a short time). Thus mind exists in the enlightened being. Thus mindful definition of understanding exists. And therefore… by definition… ego exists.
But the enlightenment experience does reduce ego to being impotent in its ability to cause negative emotions, and thus also reduces the capability of that person to experience pain and suffering on the whole. Read my blog post about how my wife and I are dealing with a current miscarriage if you need an example.
For reference, the enlightenment experience has occurred very rarely in the past because it is not taught by most religions. Zen and other forms of Buddhism teach it (although those are not religions). Hinduism teaches it (India is full of enlightened folks). Sufism teaches it. Kabballah. And within Christianty, Dominican Order priests teach it, along with some new Christian movements like Unity. I attend and support a Unity church on weekends. But most religions don’t touch it. And this is unfortunate, because the teachings of Jesus himself were about enlightenment, and not a blind faith in Him. More on this later.
Also… although I mention religion here… you don’t have to be religious to attain enlightenment and find God. That experience can and has been be attained through a large number of various disciplines that quiet the mind. It can be attained through meditation, a conscious quieting of the mind. It can be attained through yoga, Tai Chi/martial arts, chanting, dancing, fasting, immense anguish and despair, and yes, through psychedelics that physically inhibit the mind from creating conscious thought (although I don’t suggest attaining it this way, as that you cannot interpret it clearly due to the chemical effects in the brain during the experience).
From a spiritual perspective, basically enlightenment can be considered a direct communion with what is most commonly called God. It is open and available to all on earth who seek it (seek and ye shall find), though few in the West loof for it, as that they don’t know it exists. Many people who have heard of the enlightenment experience and who have had less dramatic awakenings can sometimes be fooled into thinking they have passed through enlightenment when they have not. It doesn’t make them lesser people… just people who haven’t been to a place others have. They can still go there.
The discriminating factors for the experience are 1) a feeling of oneness with the entire universe that exists beyond space and time 2) a permeating unconditional love of all existence and all in existence, 3) a perceived a higher consciousness and higher intelligence beyond our own mindful / body consciousness and intelligence, 4) a perceived shift in your understanding of your personal existence, and 5) that the changes experienced are permanent, and not mindfully influenced.
I experienced enlightenment. It’s awesome. I am free of typical egoic responses and negative emotions that cause pain and suffering. From a scientific perspective, the ego causes all pain and suffering. Emotions are entirely definable (and predictable) down to an equation connected with and dependent upon the list of attachments that is ego. Once the mind is quieted… the ego by default is also quieted. Subsequently, pain and suffering are also quieted.
If you would like to learn more about enlightenment, watch the ‘I AM’ Spirituality podcast on iTunes, or on the BlackBerry Podcast App, or on the Blubrry Network on the Roku at home. I’ll be speaking about it freely as soon as we finish the Body Mind Spirit 101 series.
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