The journey of finding our light is not an easy path. It’s a winding road that leads through difficult territory. It’s also the most worthwhile thing a person can ever do. This is a short story about the journey my husband and I have been on this past year, pulling together and finding our light.
About the time COVID-19 descended on the world and global self-quarantines set in, I was contacted by my cousin, Lon Calloway, about helping him publish a book of his hilarious—and sometimes harrowing—stories culled from his career working on ships. Although I had offered several years earlier to help him, this was the moment for that seed to take root and sprout.
I had a tremendous amount of spiritual support flowing through me for this project, and had my foot on the gas for seven weeks to get it done. It was a tremendous effort and turned out incredibly well. The title, Salty: The Colorful Adventures of a Well-Seasoned Seadog, tips off that the language is shipboard authentic. Nonetheless, Lon’s storytelling is genuinely delightful and the book is a fascinating look into a highly colorful career spent working on the water.
Shortly after finishing Salty, a new book of rewritten Pathwork Guide material came barreling through. It started with an urge to look more deeply into what the Guide had said about the ego. After rounding up four lectures with “ego” in the title (one had already been included in a previous book, Gems), I felt called to search for lectures about consciousness.
As I scrolled through the list of hundreds of lectures, various titles jumped out at me. By the time I was done, I had 17 lectures in a queue to work with. Funny aside, it seems you can’t write a book about transcending the ego without bumping into the ego. A few days in, my ego piped up and decided to add a few other lectures. With not much more than the title to go on, I also started rearranging the order. A day later I got the deeper knowing that this was my ego going rogue. I immediately reverted to the original divinely guided list of teachings for this book.
These 17 teachings tell the story of what is happening right now in our world.
For 14 days in a row, the Guide woke me up at 4am and we worked for 12-14 hours straight, rewriting his teachings. The energy running through me was intense, and the messages unfolding through my fingers were remarkable. Along the way, I was shown how the Guide’s original teachings had been intentionally densely packed as a way to cloak them for roughly fifty years. Those of us who were inspired to find them and work with the teachings were able to get what we needed, but it was tough sledding.
Nestled within this treasure trove of material were these particular 17 teachings that tell the story of what is happening right now in our world. They explain that enough light needed to be anchored on Earth—through people doing their inner work—for this era to come to pass. They talk about the influx of energy that is currently being released on the inner planes. And they reveal that this is what’s shaking those who haven’t yet created a firm connection with their inner divine self, or Higher Self.
For the journey of a human being—the journey that all the lectures from the Pathwork Guide are pointing to—is exactly this: It’s about waking up from the domain of the ego and establishing a firm connection with our inner source. We must transition from being lost in the illusion of duality to maturely living in unity. This is neither trivial nor easy to do. For it requires us to surface and transform all the parts of ourselves that are blocking our light. This, in fact, is specifically what the bulk of Pathwork teachings guide us in doing.
Key overarching aspects of this journey are revealed succinctly and radiantly in After the Ego: Insights from the Pathwork® Guide on How to Wake Up. It’s hard to convey the feelings of awe and wonder I experienced during the process of writing this book.
Self-development happens slowly and gradually.
By now, it has been over nine years since being tapped for this mission. What I can see, in hindsight, is that despite how much farther I have personally developed over this past decade, I was well underway in connecting with my Higher Self when I took on this task. In fact, it was only by listening intently to the intuitive guidance I was receiving that I had the impetus and confidence needed to leave my corporate career, sell my house, move far away and start writing these books on a full-time basis. Intuition led me to live off my savings and develop a level of trust I hadn’t known was even possible before. It led me to meet a wonderful man and move to a remote part of New York state where we would keep growing and healing together, and create a beautiful new life.
This process—transitioning from an ego-centric life to being centered in something greater—is long and it is arduous. It involves a lot of personal healing work and requires tremendous tenacity. As the Guide says over and over, self-development happens slowly and gradually. Awakening, then, is not a one-time event. We are all somewhere on such a healing spectrum. And wherever we are in our journey, our ego has an active role to play. It’s really just a question of where our ego is getting its direction—from itself or from a greater place within.
This leads me to share an important piece of work that has been unfolding with Scott and me. I am sharing this story with Scott’s full permission and involvement as it may have value in helping others. This is the same reason we both shared our personal healing experiences in Doing the Work: Healing Our Body, Mind and Spirit by Getting to Know the Self. Our desire and intention is to be of service in furthering the Guide’s teachings so they can help other people heal and grow, the same way they help us.
So there I was, nearing completion of After the Ego and strongly steeped in the rich lessons of this book, when I came to this clear understanding. That despite his twenty-some years of doing Pathwork and practicing a number of other healing modalities—for real, he has been doing the work, not doing spiritual bypass—he was still living large parts of his life and our relationship from his ego.
The Job of the Ego
By way of background, let me share a few things about Scott. He has an intelligence that runs extremely deep. When he understands something, it is solid. In college, he didn’t just memorize complicated equations for the test, like some of us. Case in point, thirty years later the man can still use calculus. Suffice it say, his ego mind has served him well in the fields of aerospace engineering and power generation. What’s more, he has a highly developed ability to read people’s energy and the interactions of energies in a room. More than once he has sensed I was upset before I was fully aware of it myself.
Such qualities are certainly part of what I love about him. But these things are not his Higher Self. And so, while his inner light shines through in many ways, and while he has greater self-awareness than a lot of people, his ego was still basically running the show in many areas. I shared with him what I was noticing and frankly, this bitter pill didn’t go down well.
Part of the problem was that my sharing was tinged with my own frustration. This made the message, which was relevant and truthful, harder for Scott to take it in. After a few days to process this, I also shared with him that not only was he largely operating his life from his ego, his ego was dropping the ball in doing a big part of the job it’s intended for.
The ego plays the important role of self-observer.
In Spilling the Script, I summarized the role of the ego like this: “It is the part of us that thinks, acts, decides, memorizes, learns, repeats, copies, remembers, sorts out, selects, and moves inward or outward. In short, the ego is really good at taking things in, straightening them up and spitting them back out. What the ego can’t do is add deep meaning to life or produce creative solutions, as it has no profound wisdom of its own.”
Using the various tools in its kit, the ego plays the important role of self-observer. To do this, it must learn to identify our many inner voices so that, as we develop and grow, we can make new choices about which part we are identifying with. In broad strokes, our work is to transition from identifying with our Lower Self (the part that is fearful, destructive, stuck in old trauma patterns, and not aligned with truth) to identifying with our Higher Self (the part infused with wisdom, courage and love, and fully aligned with truth).
It’s our ego that shifts our identification, and it does so by first seeing what the current inner situation is. In short, we must understand how our Lower Self operates. The ego then leads the effort to clean our inner house of any light-blocking obstacles. Following this, the ego’s job is to surrender and let go into the light—our inner light. In reality, the process isn’t quite this linear since the work of clearing away Lower Self attitudes and behaviors is always an act of our Higher Self. Nonetheless, it’s the ego that makes this transformation by the Higher Self possible.
What Living from the Ego Looks Like
In an effort to illuminate what I’m talking about when I say “Scott was living from his ego,” let me share an example. First, a little history. Years ago, I was trained over the course of five-plus years of study to become a Pathwork Helper. A key requirement was to first rigorously apply the Guide’s teachings to myself. For if we have not cleared our own inner obstacles enough to be living largely from our own Higher Self, we cannot help others—while operating from our ego—in applying the Pathwork Guide’s teachings.
One way I have practiced tapping my own inner divine guidance is by learning to tell when a project is ripe, and then sensing how to proceed. I did this when I worked in marketing communications, which is a career comprised mainly of a long list of small projects. And I did this during a home-makeover project in Atlanta, shortly after graduating from Pathwork Helpership training.
Jumping back to this present year, in January, Scott and I embarked on a home improvement project that was fairly extensive. We had finished the first two phases over the winter and spring, saving the remodeling of our entryway for warmer weather. More importantly, whereas I had been filled with guidance over the winter for the various parts we were working on, I hadn’t received a single idea for how to proceed on the entryway. And so we waited until that project became more ripe.
Finally we reached summer and I had completed both of the books mentioned, plus published a book for my Dad called Near Nonsense: Playful Poetry for Children Over 40. (It’s quirky and enchanting, and it was a treat to create this with him.) With those projects put to bed, ideas started to bubble up for the next home-improvement phase: our new entryway. So Scott and I started talking about what we wanted. I started feeling the familiar flow of creativity and began collecting ideas for things to consider. Scott, meanwhile, was raising concerns and creating hurdles.
Our Higher Self is never in conflict with the Higher Self of another.
It’s not that he shouldn’t have been contributing suggestions or asking questions, but it seemed his “guidance” wasn’t jibing with mine. Instead of fleshing out, adjusting or building on the ideas I was bringing forward—which we were essentially in agreement on—he was mostly throwing out obstacles and roadblocks. This was both confusing and frustrating.
One of the teachings in After the Ego is that our Higher Self is never in conflict with the Higher Self of another. But on the level of the ego, there will often be discord. This is the reason we need to have courage to do our own healing work. For when we follow our own inner guidance, we may run smack into the face of someone else’s ego. In developing our entryway plans, Scott and I were bumping up against each other a lot.
Further, as noted in that definition of the ego from Spilling the Script, the ego is not equipped to bring forward creative solutions. This doesn’t mean the ego can’t solve a problem, but it can only deal with known formulas. It simply doesn’t have the depth to allow for original, creative problem solving. It’s our greater being that provides a conduit to universal forces where the possibilities are truly infinite.
I marvel at the enormity of my ego’s ability to hang out in “I don’t know.”
So does that mean, since I was following guidance and Scott seemingly was not, I’m saying I was right? Here’s where this gets tricky. Over the last five years, since quitting my day job and selling my house, I’ve often referenced an old saying, “In for a penny, in for a pound.” Meaning, once I let go enough to leave Atlanta, I had to keep paying out more and more rope from my ego in order to follow my intuition. For my ego was not in the lead.
I continue to marvel at the enormity of my ego’s ability to let go and hang out in the space of “I don’t know.” As in, I don’t know where my life is heading, I don’t know if I will run out of money, I don’t know if these books will ever find an audience, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. Yet it’s within the spaciousness of my “I don’t know” that I listen within. My open mind allows me to hear more clearly, and over time I’ve developed a quite reliable channel to my inner knowing. I can tell when something feels right.
That said, our intuition will never be a fence we can lean on. Inner guidance needs to be checked out and fine-tuned by our ego. But our inner guidance will never lead us to self-righteousness because it can only surface through the relaxation of our ego mind. Further, whereas the limited ego thrives on rules and rigidity, our greater self is fluid, agile and adaptable. It doesn’t get fixated on only one right answer since it’s tapped into an infinite resource.
So, no, I wasn’t demanding to be right. I was trying to understand: Why aren’t our ideas flowing together?
Creating an Open Avenue for Imposters
When I shared what I was seeing with Scott—namely, that he was operating mostly out of his ego instead of tuning in to his Higher Self—he didn’t just open up and hear the truth of this. Instead, as happens so often in life, he deflected what I was saying into the defensive inner wall he had long ago built to protect himself. To be fair, Scott came by this wall honestly. Briefly, his mother died the spring of the year he turned 12, after a multi-year battle with leukemia. During the years of her illness, no one spoke with him about what was happening—that she was ill and would likely die—even as a depressing pall hung over their house.
To be fair, Scott came by this wall honestly.
At the end of that same year, his father married a woman Scott had barely met, and nine months later a new baby sibling came along. To accommodate this growing family of seven—which included Scott’s sister and two step-siblings—his parents built a bigger house. But since it was just across the district line, this meant he also had to change schools. The integration of all this was brutal, especially with no resources to help him process the shock of the trauma. On the family front, things continued to go downhill for him, from there. It’s no wonder he put up thick inner walls to defend against all that pain. And yet, as it goes for everyone, such protective walls later turn into a magnet for inviting more pain.
In this situation, by deflecting what I was saying—the awareness that his ego was preventing him from becoming his best self—he created an opening for spiritual imposters to access his psyche. Imposters are essentially teachers who are coming to help us see something important. They operate by whispering bad ideas into our inner ear, and if we are not connected deeply within, we will mistakenly believe these voices are coming from our conscience, or Higher Self.
He created an opening for spiritual imposters to get in.
Although imposters sound convincing, they actually lead us down a road to nowhere good. What they’re trying to show us is that we need to wake up. For when we are living from our ego and are not connected with our inner divine self, we can’t tell where these voices are coming from. We can’t sense if they are from our truthful essence or not. Remember, the ego doesn’t have truth-teller as part of its job description.
To be clear, imposters can’t inspire us to do something against our will. But they can find our faults and leverage them, enticing us to act against our own best interest. For instance, one way Scott started to be influenced by imposters was to make jokes or comments that really weren’t funny. “That’s not who I want to be,” he later said.
If we trace Scott’s story back a bit, we’ll find an influential family member who enjoyed practical jokes, which Scott also engaged in when he was younger. So one can see the origin in this lifetime of twisted wiring around humor mixed with cruelty, and the unhealed fault line that remains. It was into this crack the imposters slid. It’s also no surprise that imposters began showing up elsewhere in our family environment. After all, this is the part of his life that was devastatingly difficult when he was young.
Nothing Stays Hidden Forever
During this same winter-to-summer timeframe, Scott had been dealing with a frozen shoulder following a torn-tendon injury. I had been encouraging him to explore what was really frozen: What is being out-pictured here? It was becoming clear to me that his habitual identification with his ego had become so frozen he literally couldn’t see it. Regardless of his remarkable intelligence or his ability to sense energetic patterns in himself and others, he was blind to this.
I have witnessed Scott’s incredible devotion to doing his spiritual healing work. He has been digging deep for decades to clear away the kind of obstacles that prevent a person from transitioning from their ego to their Higher Self. Now he essentially needed to go inside and find the switch—to turn on the light. The problem was, his ego was so in command of his life, he didn’t even know there was an inner switch. And he had no idea where to find it.
This journey from the ego to the deeper self is gradual, and we are often uneven in our development.
Eventually, through his persistent work on his spiritual path, his plugged-up inner portal to the divine has thawed and is opening. Correspondingly, his mobility in his shoulder is being restored. As he began to consciously work to surrender his ego, he started noticing how he habitually viewed the world through the lens of “it should go like this, because this is what my ego expects.” That doesn’t leave much room for fresh ideas to arise or for things to unfold with divine timing.
Keep in mind, this journey from the ego to the deeper self is gradual, and we are often uneven in our development. Unfortunately, such unevenness is very hard on our psyche. Truly, it can tear a person apart. To heal, we must keep surrendering and shifting our identification, practicing this persistently in all areas of our lives. Some open more easily than others.
For example, Scott does the cooking in our house and he consistently does so from an ego that is surrendered and listening to his Higher Self. He feels into the meal as it almost assembles itself, rarely from a recipe. So he knows what that feels like. And there are places professionally where his Higher Self shines through, particularly in working with teams. That too is a familiar flow of the divine.
If we are connected with our greater being we will know when we are being visited by an imposter.
So while Scott’s light was already shining through in many ways, his Higher Self was calling him to take this next big step. This is why imposters started appearing. Imposters, then, are performing a valuable service and they are very good at what they do. They find a way to inspire us using just enough truth to get us to bite the hook, but their messages are not fully aligned with truth. Their intention is to help us see this.
If we are connected with our greater being, we will know when we are being visited by an imposter. Without that inner connection, our ego will fall for their tricks and we will be the ones looking foolish. Worse yet, when we are over-identified with our ego, all our questioning about “What is the truth?” will only lead to more questions. We will never find peace if our ego has us running in such circles.
Further, if we are trapped in our ego—unable or unwilling to let go into the arms of our own inner divine self—our ego will find false ways to let go. Addictions are a prime example of this. Whatever our ego uses to distract itself—in a misguided attempt to avoid uncomfortable feelings associated with old unhealed wounds—will always bring us more heartache in the long run. Moreover, these ploys can never bring us to the doorstep of our true inner self.
Waking Up & Finding Our Light
The ego needs to wake up and see how it is trying to cheat life by attempting to find a shortcut to happiness. We must see how hanging on is not the answer, and we must accept that finding our light means letting go. We must realize that letting go requires us to clear away our inner walls and dark areas, and we must take the apparent risks associated with healing: becoming vulnerable, transparent and flexible. And then we must consciously surrender.
In the flow of our Higher Self, our efforts become seemingly effortless.
Yes, finding our light is hard work. But in the end, is this really a hardship? For truly, our brilliant inner light by far outshines our ego and is the true source of everything good. Our divine nature is to flow and find our way, following the path that will lead to everyone’s highest good. True enough, this is often the way that requires more effort, not less. (By contrast, following our Lower Self can also be called following the path of least resistance.) But since our Higher Self is connected with the source of all that is, when we’re in the flow of it, energy flows freely from within us to replenish us. Our efforts then become seemingly effortless.
Our Higher Self is creative, abundant, resilient and fearless. It knows deeply, loves openly and can carry us to freedom. Our ego, on the other hand, is but a limited, temporary aspect whose destiny is to serve our greater self. When the ego gets it right, we start living from our greatness; we access our full potential. It is the awakening ego that eventually figures this out and starts tackling the challenge of finding our light.