How we can use our ego to awaken
Autor: Veit Lindau
Beyond a particular spiritual tradition, Veit Lindau outlines a non-conceptual and pragmatic understanding of the ego and attributes to it a weighty significance for our practical lives, our minds and our soul. Beyond this, there exists a longing, a calling within us that points to the fact that we are far more than our ego and our body.
When I was asked to write an article on “Ego and Higher Self” for this issue, I hesitated at first. Because I am neither religious nor philosophical or strictly scientific. I see myself more as a loving heretic and spiritual pragmatist. So I would like to caution anyone who is well versed in writings on these subjects. When it comes to the soul, I don’t value conforming to a concept. I am looking for direct experience. So please don’t take this article as an attempt to define something that I believe is beyond verbal definition. Rather, I would like to invite you to let go of all concepts and explore yourself and the different dimensions of your being nakedly and curiously:
What is an ego for you?
Is there something else, something bigger for you?
If so, how do you recognise the difference?
How do you cultivate access to this greater dimension?
SPIRITUALITY IN ACTION
My first, if you will, spiritual awakening came to me completely unprepared in the dissection room of the medical faculty of the Humboldt University in Berlin. I was studying medicine at the time. We dissected a male corpse over the course of a year. First the skin, then the muscles, the nerves, etc. We were young, insensitive and made a lot of jokes about Otto, as we called the body.
But over time, peeling away all the layers became my first meditation. And without ever having read anything about soul or God, I knew that what was in front of me was not the essence of a human being. Something was missing. Something had gone. And since then I have wanted to know what THAT is. I began to study the ancient spiritual scriptures. Perhaps it was because I was already too old or too critical, but I could not simply accept the descriptions as literally true. They seemed too man-made. I did not want to believe blindly. I wanted to experience directly. So I went searching, as you probably did. I found many approaches – devotion, meditation, trance, dance ….
Without ego you will be lost.
Here is my experiential conclusion to this point: we have a body, but we are not our body. We are more. Much more. I believe that this life is an incredibly precious chance to wonder and to use this period of time to find out as much as possible about the existential questions of our lives:
Who am I?
Where do I come from?
Where am I going?
What am I here for?
A DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDING OF THE EGO
However, this space of experience also holds a great danger. It can be addictive. When you first come into contact with the unlimited vastness and sweet peace of this dimension, it is as if you are finally returning home after eons of wandering. You – understandably – don’t want to leave this ocean of ecstasy. Out there”, exhausting relationship talks, cross pains and tax settlements are waiting for you. A moment here feels so much fresher, truer, more intense than years in your strictly limited, worldly plane of reality. That’s why I understand the anti-ego attitude of many psychospiritual currents. But ignoring the ego and holding on to these, let’s call them soul experiences, is not the solution! The ego is your runway in a tremendously complex, multidimensional universe. Without ego you will be lost.
But before I make a plea for a healthy, mature ego, let’s briefly clarify what it is in the first place. Here’s my casual and, I think, everyday definition: vast, unlimited consciousness incarnates in a body (which I lovingly call meatball) in order to be able to experience existential development processes in this dual dimension of reality – for example, learning to choose between love and fear. Your body is the carrier of your experiences and deserves protection and respect for this. This task is taken over by your ego – a collection of thought, feeling and behaviour patterns – arranged around the central thought of being a physical somebody. The task of these algorithms is clear:
- ensure the most comfortable survival possible for the meatball.
- let it reproduce.
- make sure it ranks well in the herd.
Nothing wrong with that! Let the ego do its job, just don’t identify with it. I keep hearing the myth that you have to discard or even kill your ego. Why?
THE SPACE OF ENCOUNTER
Even if you don’t believe it, imagine for a moment that you are a free soul. A pure, immortal spark of light in an immeasurable ocean of light. Look at our society through the eyes of this free consciousness. What do you see? Beautiful, highly intelligent beings doing absurd things to deny death. We hump around, buy ourselves stupid, argue our heads off. We send our children into educational systems that make them forget and mould them into fully functioning poodles of a meritocracy. Later, as adults, we miss this magical, wide dimension so much. It is healthy and good to nurture the poodle in a relaxed way. But we will not find a solution to many individual and collective challenges until we cultivate an access to this wider dimension that is free from superstition.
I would like to emphasise again that we do not have to agree on a particular belief for this. We cannot grasp this Nothing & Everything with our minds anyway. But we can experience it. When we meditate. When we close our eyes and dive through the gap between two thoughts into that silent, wide space of our consciousness. Or when we lean against a tree and take in its quiet nature. Or when we try to imagine the oceanic peace of an infant in its mother’s womb. In that stillness, you are not a person with a name. You have no age, no gender. You simply are. A tremendously soothing, because liberating and nurturing I AM. All the people I have spoken to about this experiential space have not been completely amazed, but have experienced it more like a natural reminder of who they are and have always been. The Christian, the mystic, the neuroscientist may interpret and classify the experience differently afterwards. But when they look into each other’s eyes, they will know that they have met.
About the author
Veit Lindau is an expert on integral human self-realisation. Together with his wife he runs homodea.com with currently over 70,000 members. Author of “Heirate dich selbst”, “Werde verrückt”, “SeelenGevögelt” and others.
This article was originally published on the German Homepage of Tattva Viveka: Die Seele und der Pudel