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Psychic Surgery: Behind the Mask
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

In case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of egomania going on out there; surely in the headlines, across our television screens, in our community and workplace, some in our own home. We all have an ego, of course. In the purest sense, here in incarnation, we need one to survive -- that sense of self that psychologists speak of -- and in that definition, I've always thought it better to have too much of one than not enough; life will chip away at the excess, so it's best to have some to spare. We all know people who seem too timid and withdrawn to be more than a doormat for other people's whims; some who are damaged and burdened by the past that seem unable to get out of their own entanglements of self-pity and victimization. The wounded ego is even more difficult a path than the pompous one; and yet both come from a misunderstanding of true Self and can rightfully be called egomania. We are each the center of our own universe; and we decide its trajectory.

Coming to some sort of balanced ego involves what I think of as 'process,' the necessary adjustments of a lifetime that pare us down to a list of self-reflections, hopefully lengthy, and a short list of what we Absolutely Know; a line or two or three. That would be the chapter in our memoirs that indicates we've finally seen through the mind-fuck that tells us we ARE our ego; until we can do that, we haven't the necessary balance to push back the false face we wear to find the shining soul within. Ego is the loudest voice within our head; the one that takes offense, plans punishment and revenge, manipulates to get its needs met, justifies its every whim, protects itself at all costs and feels a burst of power when it 'wins.' There are a lot of ways to look at our ego-self; I prefer the one offered by A Course in Miracles. Ego is the tyrannical, insistent voice of our false self, identified with the body and its fears, competitions, attacks and defenses; it is, in essence, enemy to the actual Self, in justified terror that if it does not overwhelm its host and assure it's the only voice heard, it will disappear. In Course, there are two parts to this trap of density and illusion; ego and guilt -- we will look at the first, today, because it is the enormous lower-thought nut we need to crack and discard.

Essentially, I think of the ego as the default spokesman for the outer world of appearances; the one that is a projection of our thoughts and desires made manifest, the one that has a set of pecking orders that, as we shift this era, we are suddenly unable to agree upon. It would be lovely if I didn't have to pick on the Republican minority so much, but their very purpose, as declared by the expired leader of their pack, William F. Buckley, is "to stand athwart history," delaying progress and protecting the status quo; this represents the very split in consciousness we're facing. The conservative movement is Poster Child for the old ways, and the old ways no longer reflect who we are; the new must shimmer with new resonance and expanded understanding if we are to love ourselves and our planet back into sanity.

If the scare tactics designed to continue unimpeded control by health insurers and Big Pharma rings hollow, the continued arrogance of the banking community that considers itself indispensible or the near-hysteria of the Birthers who want only to remove the threat to their power seems almost painful to bare, now, be assured this is ego run amok; this is Old Paradigm me-me-me'ism of the first water. And, even as it howls louder than good sense or good taste would dictate, its time has come and gone. Ego is the Father of war, the Mother of rage and the Jester that laughs at another's pain. It projects its own darkness out onto others, hiding behind righteousness. Now it has broken its own first rule of survival: stay hidden in the shadow of humanity's darker emotions -- now it reveals itself as the author of same, and as so many of us see that for the first time, perhaps we can begin to drop the mask of false self we have thought defined us.

In the world of appearances, fear is an ego concept; our true Self is unafraid because we sense our Beingness as eternal. Manipulation is an ego construct, since in order to win the game and empower itself, it must blindside its opponent into cooperation by any means at hand. It is a creature of contradictions: its fear of death can only be overcome by killing. It's defense is invariably an attack. It's verbiage is either/or -- either for me or against me; remember that one? Its inability to value other than its own self-interest is justification for sucking power from any that will allow it. And at the base of its misguided understanding is a constant thread of evaluation and judgment; if it is the arbiter of all things, it will happily come out on top ... always. It is terrified of most of the genuine, heart-inspired, soul-shaking and transformative concepts of love, equality and compassion; that is because as the originator of separation, it cannot genuinely consider the needs of anyone else lest its power dissolve, leaving it no longer able to sustain itself.

We all have an ego on a sliding scale from feral to harmless; it comes with human territory, even though a careful assessment of the ills ego has produced across our history might make it seem more like Ripley's Alien. Creating a respectful distance from its ranting and raving takes determination, self-reflection and time. Ego is clever in that it plays pity-party almost as well as it blows hot air to scald and intimidate. The Dalai Lama has said, "The deep root of failure in our lives is to think, Oh how useless and powerless I am. It is essential to think strongly and forcefully, I can do it, without boasting or fretting." Do you see ego's signature on that statement -- I'm useless and powerless? Poor me; let me drag you into my drama with this sad, sad story I'm about to tell. Let me justify all that I haven't been because of all I've endured. This is not our truth; we are not powerless, ever.

Ego is an idea; a very poor idea -- but it has been the driving force of lower human activity since Cain slew Abel. There are a few things we can do to short-circuit ego's control. First, witness your life; allow a portion of yourself to stand aside and watch as if you're watching a play. You will begin to hear when your own words sound hollow; when that next thing you were going to say suddenly seems harmful. You'll get an ear for what is inauthentic, both coming to you or out of you; you'll learn to self-edit. You'll cringe when you hear yourself whine. You'll blush when you notice that you're playing someone's emotions. You'll sigh when you realize how much of your energy is being used to control circumstances around you, muddying up the flow of good that might come to you in easier fashion.

There will come a day when you realize that your ego, much as a recovered alcoholic friend said of his brain on booze, is a liar. It does not seek to serve you, everything it tells you is suspect; it will keep you captive unless you begin to diminish its voice. Essentially, the ego comes as an accessory with your body and does not have understanding of your Soul-self; once we understand that protecting our body against siege is hardly worth giving our experience over to the vicious guard at the gate, we can begin to take back our lives.

Next, ask for what you want. If you want to go out to dinner, for instance, don't come home from work and slam things around in the kitchen, indicating that your tiresome duties are never done and guilting others into a rescue. Don't expect others to read your mind or discern your needs; they probably don't think it's their job. And don't elicit apologies by pouting; that's a control game designed to make someone else wrong. If you have an issue with someone, don't punish them with silence or back-biting or attack; invite them to sit down and discuss it, telling your truth as non-threateningly as you can. Don't use guilt to get what you want when simply asking is the lighter load.

Planet Waves
Grace NoŽl, turning 8 in November; a born tree-hugger and nature lover.
Guilt is a hateful thread of insanity that has been handed down through the ages; it goes hand in glove with punishment, to keep us frightened and subdued. Indeed, if we feel guilty, we will draw punishment of some sort; we don't even need a keeper to impose it, we'll think of a way to make ourselves miserable. Guilt is a huge impediment to self-worth, a stricken sense of isolation that keeps us from living freely and a thorough waste of time. Guilt and remorse are different things, of course -- remorse usually has something to teach and is temporary. ACIM has this to say about guilt's alliance to ego: "Guilt feelings are the preservers of time. They induce fears of retaliation or abandonment, and thus ensure that the future will be like the past. This is the ego's continuity. It gives the ego a false sense of security by believing that you cannot escape from it. But you can and must."

Right/wrong, good/bad, black/white and winner/loser are all ego-speak, and we learn it from the cradle. My seven-year-old granddaughter, Grace, is at that cross-quarter of her Saturn return; if you observe children carefully, you get clues to their internal shifts as Saturn makes its first pass through their early years. 7 - 14 - 21 - 28; page-turning years when authority comes into play. I've held with the wisdom that we do not achieve adulthood or get a good glimpse at all of our karmic pattern until that 27-29th year that brings somber Saturn back to slap its heavy hand on our heads and hold our feet to the fire. Every seven or so years there's another kaleidoscope shift to bring in more options until that first return that allows us the opportunity to witness ourselves and make new choices, or instead, decide to repeat that cycle of pattern. By the time we hit 30, we should know our ego pretty well; and our karmic obligations.

My daughter reports that Gracie can be all bright-eyed beauty, adoring and charming one moment and then, with a slight lift of an eyebrow, banish you to the cornfield in the next; Scorpio Sun, Aquarius moon and rising. She is fey, this one; comfortable with faerie friends and passionate about nature, determined to save the planet from harm, although these early interests will likely begin to fade as the constructs of 3D make their demands known and her own endocrine system begins to pulse. She's very much a loner, a different drummer; shy to the point of retiring at one moment, then unexpectedly fearless and assertive. She is happiest among family. As far as outside influences go, Grace is still noncommittal -- with a couple of years of school under her belt, she hasn't yet fancied anyone enough to give them power over her choices. That will surely change, but it is interesting that her fixity has given her ego-strength enough to resist being pulled in to anyone else's agenda. At this point, Grace is pretty authentically Grace. Now, in 3D fashion, her ego is laying in wait for its opportunity to prevail; especially during a Saturn square when screw-ups are the norm and guilt will raise its ugly head.

As I said, coming to grips with this is a process; we work much of our lives to get onto ourselves, yet because of the escalating energy that process has speeded up. The young ones have come into this incarnation with more of that phantom DNA connected, more of their intuition intact, more of the unseen whispering in their ear and so perhaps they will bypass some of the angst and baggage-handling the previous generations have endured; perhaps they will instinctually hear the hollowness of the ego voice and brush it aside. ACIM tells us that, "The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself." It would be wise, indeed, if we would internalize that truth -- that we have a choice of who we believe ourselves to be and can as easily bypass the lowest version of our humanity as adopt the higher -- and make sure our children learn of their magnificence from the get-go. Imagine receiving the equivalent of a cosmic Get Out Of Jail Free card; and rejoice!

Planet Waves
A Course in Miracles (also referred to as ACIM or the Course) written by Dr. Helen Schucman and Dr. William Thetford is a book that describes a purely non-dualistic approach to spirituality. Photo: Wikipedia.
If we are to give them that opportunity, we must let them be who they are until they figure out who they came to be. Children want to please and don't want to be punished; why tell the truth, then, unless there is no reason to lie? Yet that's what we teach them to do; put on a false face. We need to put our old parental tapes away and load our Angelic ones for this new generation: we want to instill them with respect for authority without blind obedience to it; appreciation for common sense without limiting the creative muse that could take them beyond it to brilliance; if we want them to be their authentic self we need to keep our judgment to ourselves.

While we're doing that for our kids, perhaps we could do that for our own inner child as well; this push-push-push to accomplish, to produce, to keep on track pits us against one another in unhealthy ways. We're not a collection of winners or losers; we're individual souls on an Earth journey. I hear a lot about that from elders, who can't figure out why the younger generations can't get their act together and be as successful as they were; my usual response is, "But you don't know why they came!" This business of judgment, especially in the compared expectations of different generations, doesn't do much but create an energy of gloom over those who have a different path ahead, and in these times, I double-dog dare you to make one; if you do, you'd better knock on wood because karmic kick-back is almost instantaneous these days. It's easy to hear the ego's echo in an "I did it better and I know best" statement; a more productive statement would be, "I don't know what you're doing, but I love and support you."

Now, here's the thing about ego-revelation that is a bit untidy; if you've spent a lifetime pumping that false self up, you may never actually get onto yourself until you've experienced loss. The ego is about accumulation and winning; loss is learning to let go. This is variously known as going with the flow, surrender or allowing; a bit of each. Frankly, I don't think we have much choice; given the state of our state, with loss the zeitgeist of the moment, logic tells us that resistance is futile and it's a waste of time to dwell on what's dissolving around us. It is not, however, a futile effort to see what gifts such a release might bring or to express appreciation for what we were given to experience. I dearly wish loss were not so painful, but each one prepares us for another, to loosen our grip on control and accept the accompanying shift of perspective it brings; much as each new experience of love prepares us to more fully open our hearts and breathe the Fire of the Universe into our broken patterns, replacing them with joy. Ego warns us about the disaster of considering other than self first; Higher Mind speaks to us of the miracles we experience in and with one another. If you've tasted each, it's hardly a challenge to choose which you prefer.

At the core of ego is judgment. ACIM tells us we don't have the wiring for it; we haven't the capacity because we don't see the whole picture, rich with connections and karmic overtone. Think about what life would be like without having to constantly weigh what is good against what is bad; allowing things or people to enter or drift from our lives without putting up flags that here, on this date and time, life became complete, or fell apart. We do not always know our good; we do not always know what path our soul has chosen. The more we silence ego's judgment, the easier the journey and the more profound the possibilities; the more we silence the voice of separation, the easier to look around us and see that we are connected with invisible heart-strings, pulled together for reasons of process and growth -- a winnowing away of what is no longer needed and a refining of what is.

Original Sin? Ego stuff. Punishment and patriarchy? Ego stuff. Fear and loathing? Ditto. In our beautifully flawed and messy lives we are given moments of glory every day; if we allow ego to interpret for us, we miss them entirely. We are not human doings -- we are human beings lifting toward self-revelation, and we came to taste all the different aspects of life; to savor, to surrender, to stumble, to share. Alone, as ego would have it, we are diminished; together, as Higher Mind urges, we dance:
The Best Dancers
Em Claire

God keeps me here like this:
to stumble a little.
If I were to suddenly just
turn into light
blinding myself even
to the most precious and necessary illusions
then what hand could hold my own?
Where would rest a weary head?
What good use for warm hearts;
for hot tears?
Why eyes to see, why arms
to open?
Which Lovefamily to fall into?
The best dancers know
what grace
every stumble
So here we are, in the process of letting our masks slip a little more each day, hearing the tinny sound of what isn't real and listening for the rich tone of what is, finding our way through the marvelous maze ahead of us. If there is no judgment, there are no mistakes. If there is no competition, there is no loser. If there is no attack, no defense is needed. When we silence the voice of ego, put it in its proper perspective, we are liberated from the lower instincts that keep us from peace and plenty, from heart and happiness; from loving one another as ourselves. If there is no fear? Only love. We might find we can lift our authentic face to the world, unafraid. Think of it! If there is no sound of discord within us, there is only music -- and, as Ram Dass told us decades ago, that's the only dance there is.

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