Many successful people, having achieved most or all of the goals they set for themselves, find that they are still not happy.
Something does not feel right.
After running out of goals, those whose lives become frustrated and then intolerable sometimes feel driven to seek outside help.
They want to know, “How come things aren’t all right?” These people are suffering from a collapse of meaning.
This loss is connected with the ego, the experience of a soul in a body.
The soul, coming from the source of true consciousness, enters the body with such tremendous force that attention is fixated upon the body and the external world, thereby turning its back, so to speak, on the universal source of energy.
As soon as the ego begins to form, it sets up a basic dualism: the sense of “I” and the sense of being separated from other things.
We might speak of the me and the not-me. Those things that are related to the ego become a part of consciousness. Those things that are not related to the ego remain – or become – unconscious.
The basic dualism separates man from his own nature, his own instinctual side, and separates him from his fellow man.
People who have lost meaning in life have in some way or other inflated the ego. At some point an inevitable deflation occurs, and with it a loss of meaning.
These people now come face-to-face with the real problem; namely, that true meaning comes from being connected with something greater than their ego consciousness.
Unless they are reconnected with the Self-that is, the reflection within us of the Infinite, they will never find the meaning they are looking for.
To reconnect with the Self or soul, the flow of energy must be reversed.
First, the ego must be transcended.
We must overcome the delusion that we do things, that we are the doer, or the cause, or the creator. The ego thinks things like: “I am taIl. I am short. I am fat. I am an American. I am a Hindu.”
The experience of the Self would be, “I am experiencing tallness, or heaviness, but I am not that.”
One observes and experiences these qualities but does not identify with them.
It is not the ego that is the root of our alienation from Self but our identification with the ego.
In fact, the ego is our salvation.
When one accumulates the necessary energy, one can transcend the ego. The paradox is that one has to strengthen the ego to be able to over come it.
We have to have a strong sense of ourselves to be able to see that we are reaIly a part of something else.
A strong ego means much energy is available. If one has a strong ego, he may use that energy to overcome the limitations of the ego.
Many times, much energy is tied up in defending the ego, that is, trying to maintain a view of oneself that is not in accord with one’s real nature.
For example, if a person is unable to cope with the world on a daily basis, he is defensive. He wants to see himself, perhaps, as being very competent, and when he is not competent he finds some way to defend himself. He will say, “It’s those other people. Look how badly people treat me. No wonder I have troubles.”
Much of his energy is tied up in this way.
A Weak Ego
What is really meant by a weak ego is that too much of the person is unconscious. In this state, much of the unconscious content will be in opposition to the conscious adaptation.
One result is a lowered amount of energy available to the ego.
It is the essential task of each of us to make the ego strong in order to reduce the amount of conflict and difficulties that exist in the unconscious.
Without the ego consciousness, with all of its emotions, all of its difficulties, and all of its joys, there is no duality, no separateness, no agony.
But it is only through the dualism of the ego that transcendence becomes possible. The most important use of a strong will, therefore, is to transcend its master, the ego.
Most people want to find a way of getting beyond the narrow confines of their individual lives. Some of them begin to look for scientific methods of getting in touch with their true nature.
The most scientific methods have to do with meditation.
To meditate means to concentrate on the infinite. Concentration means to put attention in one place. If your attention is in two places, you are not concentrating.
Most of us need help in learning to concentrate. We have to have techniques; we have to have ways of doing it. For analogy, if you want to make apple cider, it does not do any good to bake apples. You can bake them many times, but you will never get any apple cider. The proper way to make cider is to press the apples.
In meditation you have to use the right techniques. If you do, you will get results, and you get them scientifically.
In meditation, the attempt is made to cut off the outward flow of energy so that eventually we can reverse this flow.
Consciousness goes wherever energy goes.
If we move, we send energy into the body. That is why one of the first rules of meditation is to sit still. As long as there is any movement, energy goes there. Consciousness follows it into the phenomenal world, and the person trying to meditate will be attached to this consciousness.
When you can stop the energy from going into the body by sitting very still so that the energy does not go into the muscles, and when you become free of your thoughts, concentrate until you have a single thought.
All of the energy will be concentrated in that single thought.
This process is what meditation is all about – withdrawing the energy from the body, calming the waves of the mind, and finally, with the energy that is at last available, concentrating on the source of all beings.
At this point we begin to see that we are not the body, because we can observe it. We can see thoughts coming and going. We become non-attached to them.
People sometimes misunderstand meditation. They think that once they begin to meditate all of their problems are behind them.
That is not true.
Often meditation brings problems to the surface to be made conscious and worked out.
Nevertheless, meditation brings with it a sense of peace, joy, and ultimately, bliss.
There are many techniques available and we will be drawn to the techniques and the way that is right for us.
The key to transcendence
Transcending the ego through meditation is a concept many people avoid.
They think that becoming non-attached to the body means not taking responsibility for it. Some claim to be free of the body long before they even come close to it. Others have attempted the process of non-attachment in a kind of leapfrog fashion, without going through the necessary steps. Still others are filled with guilt, anxieties, and inadequacies, but every limitation we have is self-imposed, either by a conscious or subconscious idea of limitation.
When people get hold of the limiting ideas they place upon themselves and change them, the world changes.
It is a wonderful experience when we can tell ourselves: “I don’t know what has happened. I have friends, and I never had friends before.” We have changed some kind of limitation inside ourselves.
It takes work and a good deal of available energy, but this is the beginning of getting over those self-imposed limitations.
When the identification with the ego is broken, we can come to a higher state of consciousness. An experience of enlightenment can ensue.
The experience of enlightenment is not always a pleasant one. The expansion of consciousness may seem frightening because it is so unfamiliar.
However, the person who has transcended the ego does not encounter this kind of experience. His consciousness is not limited. Some who have had this experience describe it as being a vast circle of consciousness in which the body is only a point bathed in light.
There is no distance; the centre is everywhere.
Only a strong ego that corresponds to the way the universe exists can transcend its duality. Strengthening the ego, however, is a paradox. The number of complexities is essentially infinite and, no matter how many you solve, there are endless more waiting to be solved.
It is an unceasing process.
One must spend a great deal of time at it before they can transcend ego consciousness.
A person must be willing to settle for the process itself, have faith in it, and follow techniques of meditation.
The full meaning of life becomes possible for those who transcend the ego and, in doing so, reunite the little bubble of individual Self with the large cosmic sea of soul that resides everywhere.
Adaptation of “Transcending the Ego|” by Thomas E. Parker, Ph.D. , RC Digest 1976