On this path, there is a prevalent tendency to make enemies out of things. If it’s not other people then it’s our environment, if it’s not our environment then it’s our selves or that little voice inside our head. In our modern world, we’ve found ourselves conditioned with an idea of separation – of us and them, me and you – and it’s been held so tightly that it has bred painful ideas at the rate of nettles stinging a reckless child blundering about. There comes a point though, on our journey, where we find ourselves no longer so concerned with what other people are doing or what happens to us. When we hit this point, we ‘turn inward’ so to speak. There’s a period during this transition from outward focus to seeing inner truth where we are still running the programme that says, “me and the world.” This “me and the world” (or worse – “me against the world”) mindset then leads us to reinforce illusions inside our own mind too. I am, of course, referring to the chastising of the ego.
The way that most of us view the ego is as though it’s some mistake – a glitch of nature. We tend to see it and its calling cards and shy away with ideas about how it’s evil or something like that. On the journey of acceptance, we find it so very easy to sit in a room, look around it and accept that everything is simply what it is. We can even meditate and accept our thoughts about all this stuff. But then we get into Special Case Syndrome with the ego and start treating it like it’s the exception to the rule. We start to treat the ego like it’s our enemy; like it’s some mistake that it’s there and that we need to get rid of it. That’s a pretty difficult task because it’s an aspect of our human experience.
Although the ego is apart of the human experience, this is not to say that we should live only within the ego. Not at all. Realising that the ego is a) a constant companion for this lifetime, b) is actually a part of what we are and c) that the ego is the only part of us which is concerned with fighting anything anyway are all parts of realising that there is no fight and nothing to fight.
Who Is This Enemy?
We are familiar with the fact that we are not the limited mental or physical construct that we once thought we were. We are used to this idea. We are also used to the idea that the world we live in is one of form and that form is temporary. Our identities, bodies, life situations and even our ability to be alive all together are all temporary. The aspect of us which determines our perspective of all of these things is our ego. And our ego is temporary too. One of the biggest causal factors of grief when we lose a loved one is that the ego is faced with the indisputable proof of it’s own impermanence.
Through self-enquiry we are able to peel back the layers of who we think we are to reveal the reality of what we really are. This reality is beyond concepts so I’ll not try to explain it here. By self-enquiry, I don’t mean to question who we think we are from inside the point of view of who we think we are. Rather, we question the reality of things. We ask ourselves questions like, “Is that me?” and “When I’m not thinking, what am I?” Simple techniques like Ramana Maharshi’s self-inquiry meditation are useful for this. During this meditation, we go through all of the interesting or captivating aspects of who we think we are to reveal the unreality of the thoughts. If we follow this back to its root, something happens… Suddenly – in no time at all – there is no thought, no “I”, no anything. This would be the emptiness to which the Buddhists refer.
This emptiness is the pure Ahh space which I wrote about in the previous two articles – The 3 Levels of Consciousness & The Grand Detour and The Special Case Syndrome. This space is the truth of what you are. (This space is actually beyond all form – it is beyond ideas like “space” and “truth” and “I”). Now, if – as this space – there is nothing to fight. Why is there something to fight when we forget about this space? If we are this space then who is the one fighting? If everyone is this space, who is being fought with?
Ending The Battle
The battle is over when we realise that the only aspect of us that is concerned with fighting is the ego and then we notice that the tendency to perceive things as a fight is also within the jurisdiction of the ego too. As the Ahh space, we observe what the ego would label as something negative (fighting or otherwise) without developing judgements. From the Argh state (which is ego-centric) there’s always some sort of fight going on. Whether it’s a battle to the death over some personal identity crisis or simply just a debate between eating an apple or a banana. The only reason that the personal identity crisis seems to be much more important or painful is because of the investment there is in who we think we are. If we prided ourselves on never eating apples but one day fancied one then the apple-banana debate would be that much more painful. It’s all about identification and investment. A vegan who craves cheese is suffering because they identify with being a vegan. If Freelee The Banana Girl starts eating sausages then she can’t slam meat-eaters any more without being a hypocrite, so her model of who she is would be redundant.
From the Ahh space, all of this is simply occurring. When we are holding tightly to ideas of how things should be or who we should be, that is the Argh state. In the Argh state, we are identified with the ego. In this way, we are invested in what the ego offers. When we are focused into the Argh state, we are essentially playing the role of the ego which is fighting with interpretations of what it is perceiving. So, any fight that’s going on inside of us is one aspect of us (not us in our totality) which is fighting itself. This realisation points to a now obvious point… If you are fighting your ego – it’s got you. Awareness doesn’t fight, it doesn’t have concepts of fighting. Awareness is emptiness. It doesn’t have hands to punch or words to throw. Ego on the other hand – watch out. It’s fully equipped with everything you’ve ever thought and everything you’ve got in your environment.
We must also acknowledge here that when we realise that there is an aspect of us which is concerned with creating enemies and fighting with things then there is a tendency to see it as an enemy. This is, of course, the ego too. We must understand that the ego is an aspect of us which, when we were living without conscious presence, was needed to take over. Before we “awakened” and started being more present and aware, the ego was running the show. It’s like asking an incompetent assistant to look after your shop while you go out for about ten years. The assistant might do the best they can but without you (the originator of the shop and the only reason the assistant is there is the first place) the productivity of the shop is at half-capacity (if that) and it is not the same place without you. In this instance, the assistant is the ego and you are the awareness.
As with most issues, including the Special Case Syndrome, this issue is solved when we step out of the Argh state and into the Ohh state and then from there we let go of states as definitions for who we are all together – and thus reveal the Ahh space. If existing only within the Argh and Ohh states causes us to experience suffering in all its forms (and Special Cases and fighting are two of these forms) then as the Ahh space, we simply witness the goings on within the lower two levels. From there, it’s no longer some terrible battle with high stakes. It’s just what is happening. And it’s not even that because there’s no complex deductive thought process which tells you that’s what it is. It just is and that’s that. “It is what it is.” As the Ahh space, we see whatever the ego throws up and – as is natural as the Ahh space – we are able to welcome it and love it without holding tightly onto it and turning it into some idea of who we are.
The ego is also a useful tool for us to be able to interact with our reality. We don’t have to be invested in it to let it play out its persona as part of life. If we want to reduce negative karma then we can of course play a more active role in employing particular doctrines like that of Buddhism or by entertaining and employing notions like that in the Tao Te Ching. All of this is part of the dance of form. When we invest in the ego and identity then we make ourselves into the dancer. In reality, we are not this dancer. The dance is danced and we simply observe it being so. Whether the dance looks confrontational from a particular perspective or whether it looks graceful and dainty, it’s still all the dance that is being danced. There is no Special Case wherein we absolutely need to become invested and start thinking we’re the dancer. In truth, it seems it’s fine to believe that you’re the dancer as long as you don’t believe your thoughts which say that you’re the one believing it. In this way, we surrender all thoughts, all of our persona and simply are – no suffering. It is all as it is.
If any points here are unclear or seem to stand on a leg which isn’t fully present, please read over the previous two posts which outline the foundational elements of this topic. The links are above and I’ll include them here too… The 3 Levels of Consciousness & The Grand Detour and The Special Case Syndrome. If you have questions you’d like answered directly, please leave a comment below or connect with me via the Contact Page on this site.
Thank you for reading. It is my heartfelt wish that this serves you in some way.
Live, love and play.