25 January 2018
What is The Ego?
My Maori spiritual teacher says that ego is outward manifestation of energy. In yoga, many believe it is called ahamkara, but ahamkara is actually the identification, or being attached to, one's ego, rather than the ego itself.
So, that is the attachment to what we think, feel, believe, want, dislike. This mainly construes what we believe to be our ego. And this is somewhat limiting.
And yet, the ego is important, for it is this area of being that we can cultivate to being a happier, more decent, and yes, more spiritual person.
Why should we cultivate our ego?
Because this is the part of oneself that we generally relate to, that we identify with. Take it away, when we first start our spiritual journey, and then, who are we? We then have nothing us. to relate to, within our life. Take away the ego, and we are incomplete. It is an important part of us.
Plus, we do need an anchor, a background of experience for most things, and the ego is an excellent anchor to start with. It is part of us during an incarnation.
To begin with on our spiritual odyssey, we don't suddenly start having the third eye wide open, nor Ma Kundalini racing up through the spiritual channel in the spine (sushumna), nor the heart chakra opened and beaming love to all. No, we generally begin with our body, our emotions, and our thoughts and thought patterns, and what we know from our own life experience.
Then we are told, or read, spiritual "truths" which we translate into concepts that we try to grasp the meaning and the reality of. I actually feel that a lot of what is available for reading, watching, and listening to, is quite limited in what we are capable of experiencing and knowing, and, some of the modern information available, I just don't believe it. This feeling is based on my own experiences.
How do we use our ego on our spiritual quest?
It is via the ego that we try to understand the eternal spiritual truths. It is through the ego that we can start the wonderful spiritual journey of ourselves. When we hear that ahimsa, or non-violence, is the first step in yoga, how do we try to work that out? Through the ego, of course.
And through which medium is our concept of, for example, ahimsa, outwardly expressed? The ego. As time goes on, each and every truth that comes your way, will evolve into a new understanding and experience. When this happens, our outward expression of everything will also change.
We can use our ego to journey through life, in a spiritual manner. We could perhaps understand it better, if we said that "we can cultivate the mind", although our ego is just a part of the everyday mind. It is via the ego that we can all become a better person, a person who sincerely aims to incorporate decent qualities, such as the aforementioned ahimsa, into our lives.
What do we gain by cultivating our ego?
Peace of mind, less shadows across the heart, better relationships, and a more meaningful daily life. A more lovely and loving expression of oneself. And, to me, that's really important for our life's journey.
12 January 2018
If not.... what then?
Continuing on from my previous post about what mindfulness is not. What is mindfulness if it is not being established in my sense of self, the self whom I believe to be "me"?
Firstly.... if we look at our "mind" in a different context, we can sense (and hopefully realise, in time), that what we believe to be our mind is generally what we believe is who we are. As though everything to do with our life is all pushed into this mythical area of Being. As though we are all of our thoughts, all of our beliefs, all of our wants and dislikes. And including our body. And this, for many, is the personal identity. It is, for many, what defines oneself.
And when I started my yoga spiritual journey, these were my beliefs, my reality, too.
But, to go back to what we think of as mind, and ourselves, is that really all of our mind - the personal sense of identity from thoughts, and also our feelings? In the vast arena of "mind", there is so much more... and it is that so much more that lets us realise that we are not just the sum total of our physical body and "mind."
How do we come to have the realisation that we are not just the above? Can anyone do it?
The Quest to find My Self
Everyone can come to this realisation. For me, it started when I was young with The Quest To Find The Self. I had read books by an american yogi, Richard Hittleman, who brought yoga to millions via television, and books. I read one of his later books, where he repeatedly talked about The Self. I, of course, had no idea of what he was talking about. But I wanted to know. It became a big question inside of me: "what is The Self"? I didn't try to read about it, because I honestly could not understand the yoga philosophy and terms. But the question remained, and I would frequently ask myself: "what is The Self?"
The years went by, with me still pondering the Big Question. With no answer. I did not know during this time, that having such a question is part of Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge. And that behind each answer to such a question, lay an answer, then another answer, then another.... the answers to such questions go far beyond what we can imagine. Within all this, my quest, the aim was to come to The Self.
I found on my journey, that The Self is just part of the spiritual equation of whom we are. It is not the Holy Grail. Just as the little ego, called ahamakara in yoga terminology, that sense of believing that we are our thought and feelings, that they are what matters, is not the Holy Grail of The Self, either. For ahamakara, and also the chitter chatter of the mind stuff, the thought, beliefs, likes, dislikes, are just part of a larger picture of our manomaya kosha, our "lower mental" body (as opposed to the sublime states of very deep meditation and samadhi /enlightenment) and are just part of the vessel, the container, that we call "mind", "Ourself".
seek the answers for yourself
When one asks: "how can this be?" "Is this true?" "What is she talking about?", then I would always say: seek answers for yourself, seek the truths that people proclaim. Then you fill find out for yourself, whether or not they are true. Then they will be YOUR knowledge, your own truths.
whatever we know, there is always more......
But know this: on my journey I have found that whatever I thought I knew, whatever awakenings I have had, there is always more. If you keep this humbleness, that although you may have had great awakenings on many levels, it's always nothing compared to the greater truths to follow.
When I started learning from a Tohunga (Maori spiritual teacher and healer), I realised that for all of my knowledge.... it was nothing. I had to stop trying to match up what I was learning with what I knew from my spiritual yoga journey. For, with the yoga, I had searched for the Self, and gone far past it into more celestial realms. And, I had long known that whatever I knew... there was so much that I was unaware of. But with the Maori deep spirituality teachings, we started with Creation, then the lineage down through the Gods and the roles of the Gods (and Goddesses too) to the spiritual creation and existence of oneself. So it was the reverse of what my journey had been.
Whereas before, I had been having an ascending spiritual journey reaching for The Divine, now it had become a spiritual odyssey, descending from The Divine.