At the center of our beings are the aspects we brought in with us that are already free-flowing beacons of energy and consciousness. In this part of us—in our Higher Self—we are in truth. This is our inner light. Other redeeming qualities of our light-filled center are wisdom, courage and love, all humming along in beautiful harmony.
In this metaphor, we can liken our ego to the moon, which has no light of its own. This doesn’t mean we don’t value the moon or enjoy the moon. It simply means it can only shine when it’s reflecting the light of the sun. In the case of the ego, it needs the light of our Higher Self to authentically shine. When it does this well, the ego too is a beautiful thing.
All too often, we find ourselves living in partial darkness due to clouds. Here is where this metaphor falls short. For unlike the moon which also gets hidden by clouds, our ego is always available to us. It’s the part we have direct access to. And unlike our Higher Self—which sometimes gets hidden—it’s never out of sight. So let’s imagine we live in a world with an ever-present moon. This moon, or ego, has the ability to part the clouds. It’s the only thing, in fact, that can.
The ego is the part we have direct access to and it’s never out of sight.
So where do the clouds come from? To go one last step with this metaphor, energy and consciousness make up everything in our being. This is sort of like clouds being made up of water and air. So when we find ourselves lost in unpleasant experiences, these are always due to our own stuck or distorted energy and wrong thinking. We have gotten lost in our own dark clouds.
And this essentially is what it means to be spiritual: We use our ego to discover what inside of us is blocking our light. We do this by mindfully observing our reactions to people and situations. Then we set about doing the necessary work of clearing away our inner obstacles. So it’s our ego that must first wake up and set our spirit free by figuring out what’s really going on. Then our inner being can wake up and shine more brightly into the world.
What is really going on?
Our ego is a limited part of ourselves that has no depth. This means the ego can only see the world in black and white. To live from our ego then is to live in duality. From this perspective, the whole world divides into good versus bad, right versus wrong, me versus the other. This is one way to perceive the world, but it’s not the only way. It’s a limited view of life that is basically a half-truth. And half-truths tend to send us directly into clouds of confusion.
When we are living from this dualistic perception of reality, we are not able to see the truth in both halves of any two opposites. For example, we can’t see how compassion and strength go hand in hand. But to have one without the other leads to either bleeding-heart sentimentality or stone-hearted ruthlessness. In truth, neither side is truly possible without the presence of the other.
All opposites are reconciled by the presence of the whole truth.
In the center of our being, we are aware of this. For at our core, we are already in unity. There, all opposites are reconciled by the presence of the whole truth. This means that when we’re fully in truth, there is no more conflict. On the surface of our personality, however, conflicts are inevitable because our ego is not capable of holding opposites. So by itself, the ego does not possess the ability to hold the entire truth of any situation and stand in a place of unity. It never has, and it never will.
What the ego can do, however, is actively work to increase our awareness by clearing away whatever is blocking our light. When we do this, we can start to live from a deeper place within and enjoy a broader viewpoint. Then the ego will shine in a new way, reflecting the beauty of who we truly are. But as long as we avoid making this journey to our inner sunny, colorful selves, we will live from our ego and remain lost in black-and-white thinking.
What does being spiritual look like?
As we learn to surrender and live from our greater consciousness, we will also begin to take responsibility for the condition of our lives. It’s our emotional reactions that will point the way to our inner work. These are our reactions that are bigger than a situation calls for, caused by the way they rub our old wounds and surface our unhealed pain. In short, a spiritual person is someone who views every disharmony in life through the lens of: “What is this showing me about myself?” or “How is this friction illuminating something I need to heal?”
Friction is a fact of life for humans because we all harbor Lower Self aspects we’ve brought in with us to heal. When these untruthful places in us rub up against such places in others, conflict arises. Conflict, then, is unavoidable as long as we are hosting any kind of untruthfulness. Said another way, conflict is always associated with some kind of untruth or half-truth. And this is precisely what keeps us living from our ego and locked out of heaven, as it were. Because all untruth alienates us from the true inner home of our Higher Self, which is also the house of God.
Conflict is always associated with some kind of untruth or half-truth.
But once we unwind our faulty wiring and start living in ways that are compatible with our true divine nature, we will live in peace with the world. Once we begin to identify our faults and defenses and do our personal healing work, we will begin to experience heaven while still here on Earth. This, in truth, is the only way to get to heaven, for heaven is within.
Being spiritual does not mean we have no more problems or emotional reactions. It means we look at them directly—by paying attention with our ego—and we sort ourselves out. The ego itself does not do the heavy lifting of healing work. The ego’s job is to opens inner pathways to our own Higher Self where we have access to all the answers we need.
Most often, we need someone to help guide us through this awakening process. Because starting out, it’s not easy to catch ourselves in action. After all, we’re all in such a habit of blaming, judging, rationalizing and building cases, by now these things are second nature. What’s more, we actually like our destructiveness. We are fueled by our complaining and resisting. It’s us against the world and we intend to win! Spoiler: This is the charge of duality and it is always a losing proposition. Because it’s not in truth.
In a nutshell, what it means to be spiritual is to wake up from the illusion of duality and to search within until we find the whole truth. We have to wake up to how we are contributing to the unpleasant outcomes in our lives, and then clear away these blocks. In short, we must make peace with both sides of opposites. This is the only way to come to know the whole truth. We will know we have found it when we feel inner peace.
How long is the road to peace?
The ego’s job is to become our lead detective in uncovering the inner roots of our disharmonies. As we get rolling, we’ll learn how to heal our old wounds and straighten out any wrong conclusions we unconsciously harbor about life. This is plenty to do. What happens more often is the ego drops the ball, readily pointing out where someone else is wrong instead of searching ourselves for corresponding errors. And yet every single time, if we feel disturbed, we have work to do—no matter how wrong the other may also be.
So can this all get worked out in, say, a long weekend? No, healing work takes time. Like all evolution, the transition of living from our ego to living from our greater divine self happens gradually. For we must unwind all the ways we aren’t in alignment with truth, and typically our awareness of our own shortcomings is low. But there’s no better time than now to start paying attention.
We can start by cleaning up our act. This is not done by following outer rules but by living in alignment with our own inner truth. We can notice how we’re approaching life in a spirit of war. We believe we’re defending ourselves against pain when really we’re just spreading it around. Also, in order to wake up from the dualistic trance we’ve been in, we must start to see our part. We must challenge the notion we’re a victim of an unfair world and instead search for how we intend to cheat life.
Like all evolution, the transition of living from our ego to living from our greater divine self happens gradually.
We all have free will, and even if we no longer remember we made a choice to try out negativity, resistance and rebellion—even if we can’t see how we are still doing this—that doesn’t change the fact that all our trials in life stem from self-generated darkness. Changing our world for the better, then, involves each of us looking inside.
We must make the effort to uncover our hidden destructive parts. These are hidden from us but often quite obvious to others. The work involves clearing away the inner blindness preventing us from seeing our own negativity. We must become willing to face our fears and unravel our misunderstandings. All this we must do if we want to come home to our spiritual center.
On any day we do this—even if only a little—we will allow a little more of our light to shine into the world. For it’s not by hiding our darkened parts that we transform them, but by investigating and illuminating them. This is the only way to clear away our collective clouds and walk together into a brighter future.