THE EGO KEEPS GOD OUT
Being separated from God is what the bible describes as hell. What if the building of the ego was like creating prison walls for the mind and causes us to lose connection with God? If this were the case, then the more egoic ideas that are constructed in our mind, the more we would lose our connection with God.
We need to break down the walls created by the ego to allow the authentic self to be free to experience life, otherwise, we experience life through the veil of the ego and become our thoughts and our emotions, rather than the witness of them. Viewed in this light, it appears it is the ego that creates our own “hell.”
The ultimate expression of individuality is a state in which every cell, thought and feeling has been transmuted into an indivisible part of the whole world. Every realized soul then contributes to the individuation of the entire planet.
In the process of individuation we must give up some part of ourselves. It is a necessary sacrifice, one that we do consciously and for the good of self and others. Sacrifice of this kind is always about gaining something special and never about loss. what we gain adds to our individuating process. For example, in sacrificing narcissism we gain love and respect for others.
This sacrifice leads to selflessservice and a deep appreciation for the sacred interconnectedness of all living beings. To love with deep compassion requires dissolving the walls that separate “me” from “us,” leading then toward a conscious embrace of the entire universe. Dissolving does not mean eliminating.
Actually, quite the opposite is true. A grain of salt dissolved in a cup of hot water does not result in the salt being eliminated.
The salt has changed its condition by undergoing a process of dissolution; it has become part of every water molecule in the cup. One grain of salt has seemingly disappeared but in fact, it has permeated every water molecule. To understand this recipe we must then know the nature of water and how it facilitates conscious development.
To summarize the three important points made so far
1. In the individuation process, the most powerful changes begin from within.
2. An excellent catalyst for change is water and its psychological equivalent. feeling.
3. Even a tiny dose of conscious feeling can change the overall disposition of the person.
Water is a symbol of the unconscious because of the special qualities and behaviors it shares with nature. Both are amorphous and ubiquitous. Each Is fluid, gentle and powerful. Water is a mysterious element within whose depths even light disappears. This is the reason I tell patients to honor their feelings more than their thoughts. Feelings are unique, give depth and define who we are.
They need no defense or explanation provided we own them and take responsibility for them. In alchemy, every element has an accompanying action or operation that acts on the prima materia to transform it in some special way.
The water operation is solutio and the process of dissolution derives from the action of this element. The present recipe advises the initiate to use this water operation to dissolve the prima materia. Saluda initially works to break down the walls separating ego from its shadow, thereby making the unconscious more conscious.
The last thing on earth that ego wants to admit are its weaknesses, but with solutio even ego’s defenses melt.
The corrosive ability of water to penetrate virtually all matter reduces gross matter to its essential form. Psychologically, water transforms shadow elements by breaking it up into bits that can be “digested” by the ego.
Only by making the return consciously can we shed light on the unknown—in ourselves by way of the unconscious, in the world by way of the universe, in god by way of the transpersonal. But, entering these unknown regions requires enormous courage. Within a few seconds after submerging ego beneath the waters of the conscious realm, panic sets in. It takes a lot of cajoling to have ego realize that it can swim like a fish.
The metaphor in this case carries an important symbolic meaning. While the unconscious is symbolized by water, the symbol of the fish represents consciousness. With its ever-opened eyes, the fish has been a symbol used throughout the ages to signify a consciousness capable of penetrating the blackness of its own depths. Baptism, a solutio ritual in the Christian faith, serves this very purpose.
The baptismal water touches the unconscious, reminding it of its origin as well as the journey ego must take back home in order to discover its true parent, the Self.
The journey is fraught with fear and danger. We fear drowning in the emotional waters of unbidden moods. Tumultuous feelings can inundate ego consciousness and loosen its moorings to everyday reality. Anxiety, fear and panic, mood swings and nameless feelings can come upon us like a tidal wave.
They cannot be avoided anymore than life can without water. Every tear and raindrop reminds us of the infinite ocean from which we all come and to which we will all someday return. Our personal unconscious is like a tiny stream leading to this great ocean of the unconscious. All peoples, all countries, all planets and stars—everything—is contained in this vast ocean.
“The Red Sea,” wrote Jung, “is a water of death for those that are ‘unconscious,’ but for those that are ‘conscious’ it is a baptismal water of rebirth and transcendence.”7 We are born in a watery womb of unconsciousness and ascend, in the course of our lives, to a distant shore that promises new life.
The Red Sea is a water of death for those that are *unconscious’, but for hose that are ‘conscious’ it is a baptismal water of rebirth and transcendence. The Red Sea is an ideal symbol or arcane name for the elixir or the tincture of transformation.
Red Sea. In alchemy and in fairy tale, the Red Sea is the passage of transition from one world to another, from exile and bondage to unconscious forces to the gnosis of one’s larger, deeper identity.
In alchemy the poison is transformed into medicine. Humans have always known that images possess the power to change consciousness, that images create revolutions. She is the only
way that God can be rooted in the world. Without her the act of Tikun, the coniunctio, the return of the Feminine from exile is not possible. She lives in the collective unconscious, the Red Sea, to which she fled when required to assume an inferior place.
In alchemy a red, or fiery, sea signified purification; fire purifies, and melts opposites into unity. In patristic texts a red sea signified baptism, and the blood of Christ.
The salamander lives in the fire, which imparts to it a most glorious hue. This is the reiteration, gradation, and amelioration of the Tincture, or Philosopher’s Stone; and the whole is called its Augmentation.
Hermes then continues in alchemical metaphors that “our son,” having been born as a king, takes the tincture from the fire. Now death, the sea and darkness flee from him. The dragon flies from the rays of the sun. Our son, having been being dead, now lives. A king comes from the fire and secret things will appear, and “our son” is made a warrior in the fire and he is the most powerful of tinctures.63 In short, the red tincture is the alchemical Christ, as is demonstrated by the last woodcut of Christ rising from the tomb, also copied from Das Buch der Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit. In fact, the subject of the Rosarium is not only that of the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, but also that of the production of the white and red tinctures.
Although the Philosopher’s Stone is associated with the alchemical processes of transforming lead into gold, its very name suggests that the operation is more metaphysical than tangibly physical. Philosophers are intellectuals, theorists, and deep thinkers, so the stone could be referred to as the “thinker’s stone” or the “thinking stone,” which has similar connotations to the chintamani “thought” stone or “mind” gem.
When we resolve to do something, every molecule of our body is changed by our will. The force of will is like a jet of high-pressured water passing through a hose. In making resolutions, the body responds with unbending strength.
Alchemy, in this case, picks up where nature leaves off. It is a David and Goliath story replete with all the same risks. But there is no getting around this part of the work. “When danger is there,” wrote Hölderlin, “Arises salvation also.° Water is dangerous, but it is also the source of all living life.
Remember our discussion of ego in the previous chapter? Well it’s time to bring our trusty old friend back to the forefront of our conversation. The ego is like the doctor in the story above, always keeping love out. We can also think of the unchecked ego as a bodyguard around our hearts. Stuffed full of judgments, fears, anger, projections, reactions, and conditioning, the ego builds a concrete wall around our hearts.
This wall does its best to give us a feeling of security by keeping everything the same and not “rocking the boat.” But the irony is that in protecting us from everything, it keeps out the only thing that gives us peace—unconditional love.
The ego’s voice is the bodyguard around this wall. It makes sure nothing—including love—gets in or out. The ego and all its voices are just doing their job: protecting the status quo. In a moment of silence, we may feel a pure longing for unconditional love. But the ego walls harden and tighten.
The voice of the bodyguard says, “No way are you getting in. Unconditional love would break down these walls and we would be left without protection.” Our minds become full of doubts, excuses, and busyness, and we forget the moment of longing.
We keep our heads down and keep moving along. Each of us has a personal ego, as well as a collective “super-ego.” While the personal ego focuses mainly on maintaining our individual status quo, the super-ego focuses on keeping the collective status quo. This is where we may encounter shame or guilt if we want to challenge what we’ve been told at a more global level, by religion, history, politics, and our families.
So between the ego, which tries to protect our hearts from any “threat,” and the super-ego, which makes darn sure we listen to the voices that come from outside ourselves, how can we break through to freedom and unconditional love? How can we stay guided and nurtured in this arduous journey? How do we get access to the secrets of a happy life and be showered with divine love? How do we experience the invisible phenomenon called God? The answers to all of these questions are found in one word: Guru.
Our World-Knowledge owing to the indirect and separative nature of our sense-instrumentation according to Sri Aurobindo (2005) is very ineffective. We attempt to know the world and complete the incomplete picture through our interpretations of data sense through speculation, reflection, imagination, reasoning, impartial weighing, inference, measurement and testing. Our scientific endeavours because of the indirectness of knowledge paint us a picture of the world that is only half-certain. Science is mass of hypotheses, ideative representations, theories and generalisations that brings with it doubts that are a source of continued debates which remain inconclusive because of the imperfection of our knowledge. In summary, it can be said that the fourfold knowledge as it manifests in surface consciousness is operating through the principle of Ignorance.
Our World- Knowledge is imperfect because the separation between knower and the known with senses as the only link to the external world. However, even our self-knowledge is compromised as our larger being is shut behind a wall created by the externalising consciousness. This wall is created by Nature to attempt the ego-centric individualisation of the mind, life and body uninvaded by the deeper and wider truth of our existence; it defends it against the deeper oneness and Infinity and against the cosmic Infinite. This is the first step of Nature. To move beyond Self-Ignorance and World-Ignorance, our mind has to realise its limitations and break the walls of ego-consciousness.
In brief, the epistemological assumptions are: • For an Integral understanding of human evolution it is not enough to focus on Knowledge but to hold both the Ignorance and Knowledge in a single view. • Ignorance or Avidya is Knowledge in process of evolution • Vidya is the perception of Unity as a fundamental and eternal fact. In highest supramental cognition—the All (Multiplicity) and the One are the same existence. It is a state of luminous self-evident Knowledge of the Self and the World. • Our surface knowledge is limited in nature and works within the realm of Ignorance. • For True Knowledge of the Self and the World, one needs to break the walls of surface ego and grow into one’s true inner Self, the wider Cosmic Self and the highest Spiritual Self.
Its defence against the invasion of the cosmic energy is equally insecure and partial: in spite of its notice of no entry without permission, it is subtly and invisibly invaded by the world, enveloped by the not-self and moulded by it; its thought, its will, its emotional and its life energy are penetrated by waves and currents of thought, will, passion, vital impacts, forces of all kinds from others and from universal Nature.
Its wall of defence becomes a wall of obscuration which prevents it from knowing all this interaction; it knows only what comes through the gates of sense or through mental perceptions of which it cannot be sure or through what it can infer or build up from its gathered sense data; all the rest is to it a blank of nescience. It is, then, this double wall of self-imprisonment, this self-fortification in the bounds of a surface ego, that is the cause of our limited knowledge or ignorance, and if this self-imprisonment were the whole character of our existence, the ignorance would be irremediable.
But, in fact, this constant outer ego-building is only a provisional device of the Consciousness-Force in things so that the secret individual, the spirit within, may establish a representative and instrumental formation of itself in physical nature, a provisional individualization in the nature of the Ignorance, which is all that can at first be done in a world emerging out of a universal Inconscience.
Our self-ignorance and our world-ignorance can only grow towards integral self-knowledge and integral world-knowledge in proportion as our limited ego and its half-blind consciousness open to a greater inner existence and consciousness and a true self-being and become aware too of the not-self outside it also as self, — on one side a Nature constituent of our own nature, on the other an Existence which is a boundless continuation of our own self-being.
Our being has to break the walls of ego-consciousness which it has created, it has to extend itself beyond its body and inhabit the body of the universe. In place of its knowledge by indirect contact, or in addition to it, it must arrive at a knowledge by direct contact and proceed to a knowledge by identity. Its limited finite of self has to become a boundless finite and an infinite.
But the first of these two movements, the awakening to our inner realities, imposes itself as the prior necessity because it is by this inward self-finding that the second — the cosmic self-finding — can become entirely possible: we have to go into our inner being and learn to live in it and from it; the outer mind and life and body must become for us only an antechamber. All that we are on the outside is indeed conditioned by what is within, occult, in our inner depths and recesses; it is thence that come the secret initiatives, the self-effective formations; our inspirations, our intuitions, our life-motives, our mind’s preferences, our will’s selections are actuated from there, — in so far as they are not shaped or influenced by an insistence, equally hidden, of a surge of cosmic impacts: but the use we make of these emergent powers and these influences is conditioned, largely determined and, above all, very much limited by our outermost nature.
One important fact I have learned for certain is that the death of the false self is the prime requirement for higher levels of development and evolution, (if one wishes to climb the ladder leading to God).
One must break the walls, free his divine self from the prison of false self, and be born again while he lives. In relation to this essential point in one’s personal development and evolution,
Rumi’s son stated “Human must be born twice, once from his mother, and again from his own body and his own existence. The body is like an egg and the essence of man must become a bird in that egg through the warmth of love, and then he can escape from his body and fly in the eternal world of the soul beyond time and space.”
The first birth happens to all of us naturally, when we are freed from that dark prison of womb, but the second birth and escape from the prison of false selves, would happen if only we were willing and capable of breaking the walls and scape, which is what the mystics mean when they talk about being born again.
Rumi’s books are saturated with the poems regarding breaking the walls of prison, breaking the cage to fly, annihilating the ego, loving God, and returning to him to merge.
All true mystics have often referred to annihilation of the false selfhood or the death of the egocentric life, while living, as the most significant phase in development, evolution and path to perfection. Jesus Christ said, “Except a man was born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
He also said, “Unless a man be regenerated in the spirit of mind, have his will and affections transferred from earthly to spiritual objects; he cannot see the kingdom of God.”