Lecture 199 – The Meaning of the Ego and its Transcendence | Abbreviated Version

P1             The average state of the human mind is only a fragmented piece of total consciousness. In this fragmented state you are cut off from reality. You inevitably live in fear and limitation. Yet you believe that this is all there is to your life and you frantically clutch at this limited fragment. You resist the natural inner movement of the soul to go beyond, to expand this state, because the splitoff ego-consciousness fears that doing so will annihilate you. 

You ardently protect this limited consciousness, yet this very limitation creates fear and suffering. It is your task, in the cycle of incarnations, to reintegrate this split-off ego-consciousness and to regain forever wider and deeper portions of your real self, your cosmic existence, with its infinite possibilities for experience, joy, and creation of the self. Humanity believes that this split-off ego-consciousness is the real self. You identify with your brain, your outer intelligence, your will, your mind, all those faculties immediately available, not realizing that to whatever degree you now possess these, it was you who in the past made them available for yourself through a deliberate effort.

For there was a state in which you possessed much less awareness, less power to create, less ability to experience joy. Your consciousness was much more limited and confined. You had to use whatever consciousness you had to enlarge your faculties and to avail yourself of dormant possibilities. This process must continue until there is no longer any split-off fragment and humanity has reached cosmic consciousness, which means that humanity itself has become one with ultimate reality.

It is the task of all beings who are caught in this fragmentation, and that means anyone in the cycle of being born and dying, to enlarge their field of operation, their perception, their awareness, and their power to create.

P2             You find out that the limited ego state you have so ardently protected is an illusion: the illusion of death and aloneness. Awareness has to be fought for. It does not come easily, nor gratuitously. The ego fears losing its present state, meaning its self-awareness, so much that the fear displaces the instinct of self-preservation.

The ego misuses this instinct to preserve its present awareness. It maintains its separateness by creating an artificial conflict between the self and others. It says, “I must prove to the world that I am admirable and better than others; I must outdo others; I must not be worse than others; my interests counteract those of others, and vice versa.” All these attitudes are pridefully put in the service of maintaining the ego’s separation. It is always “I versus you,” and this inevitably creates a spirit of one-upmanship.

In principle, there is no difference. Therefore all comparing and competing to best others increases the separation and sharpens the illusion that this pitiful existence is all there is to life. People’s prevalent tendency to live for the sake of appearances, rather than for the sake of truth and of real feelings and interests, is also caused by pride. Self-will comprises stubbornness, resistance, spite, defiance, rigidity. All these attitudes connote a stiffening against change, against expanding into new spiritual territory. These traits express the attitude, “I will stay where and as I am.”

P3             All worries, anxieties, and apprehensions belong to fear. Other ego tricks that serve to maintain its present “safe” position are: denying pleasure, bliss, joy, expansion, and creative movement into life. More such tricks of the ego are: inattentiveness, lack of concentration, abstractedness, absent-mindedness. These attitudes prevent the focusing necessary for the ego to transcend itself. Fear of exposure and denial of real feelings not only stem from pride but also directly perpetuate isolation and are therefore used as ego tricks to deny oneness with others.

P4             As long as all the tricks of the ego are acted out, rationalized, denied, perpetuated and nurtured you cannot help but suffer. You will look wistfully at the possibilities yet doubt that anything else could exist that would warrant the effort and the lowering of your pride. This doubt then becomes the excuse for the artificially maintained status quo.

Every one of you possesses every conceivable attribute in the universe. You often hold the misplaced and confused idea that self-discipline hampers your freedom, and, conversely, that a free person does not need self-discipline. Freedom, in its real sense, is unthinkable without discipline. When such imposition (discipline to appear good) happens it is always a result of the denial of voluntary self-discipline, which goes together with self-responsibility. 

P5             The discipline must be used for stringent recognition of the ego tricks and against giving in to them. Every incarnation, on whatever level, requires increasing the scope of one’s “field of operation.” To widen the fences around the fragmented ego, to bring in more reality from the world beyond the illusory confinement is the task. Every bit of new knowledge or a new skill yields, directly or indirectly, more spiritual power and awareness, more experience of joy and realization of your own adequacy and your potential.

To acquire new knowledge or skills, on whatever level, always means overcoming laziness. It means self-discipline, trial and error, and the ability to convert failure into success. It means perseverance, patience, faith and overcoming fear until the new thing becomes until it becomes part of the personality, second nature. Spiritual self means effortlessness. This desirable effortlessness is not given by magic, however, for this would mean that the ego is not being transcended but avoided. The spirit can use this newly expanded vision, knowledge, skill, energy, and accomplishment to play creatively.

P6             The arduous task of making the ego flexible always comes first: teaching it, bending, changing it; making it receptive and vibrant; letting new life energy and creativity flow through it by identifying and abandoning the ego’s tricks. People truly wither away when they remain in the narrow confines of their present state because they feel it is safe and they think they have eliminated the need for effort and investment. Regeneration can happen only where inner movement exists.

To pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move beyond seems terribly tiresome. This feeling is illusory because the stagnant state is really a contraction, and contraction is by no means relaxing and restful. True restfulness is always alive and effortlessly moving. The people who do the least are always the most tired. And the people who do most are always most energized and relaxed—provided their activity does not serve as an escape from the self.

It requires an enormous and often unconscious effort in order to sustain the resistance against the soul’s natural inclination to follow its destiny. This unconscious effort then manifests as tiredness, exhaustion, weakness, which furnish the excuse to remain still longer in the status quo. The ego uses the results of its own errors as tricks. But movement seems temporarily effortful until this harmony (with life) has been established by reorienting the ego.

P7             Your moving parts are the aware parts. These parts are capable of recognizing the significance of the resistance. These parts can meditate on seeking a deeper understanding of your task in life; on the meaning of your life. When I speak of ego, I do not mean that it should be totally negated, denied, and insulted. The ego is part of divine consciousness and holds all aspects of the greater self from which it has separated itself, even if they are distorted and misused. The basic energy and consciousness of the ego is made of the same substance with which you ultimately reunite.

The ego must be healthy to transcend itself, and learn and own as yet unknown spiritual territory. It needs to expand its knowledge, experience, and creative potential. In order to do this, the ego must adopt attitudes compatible with its original nature. All the tricks of the ego, all the negativity and evil that are embedded only in the ego, have to be recognized with a very incisive, sharp self-honesty for what they are. Denial, rationalization, and projection must be given up.

It (ego) adopts various forms of escape, such as drugs or other means of false transcendence. In all these false and dangerous attempts, the entity always seeks to avoid effort, pain, inconvenience, and those aspects of life with which it does not agree or which it does not understand. It seeks to cheat, using shortcuts, which can never work.

Consequently, the entity may hold on even tighter to the immobile, rigid state, perhaps for many incarnations, thus making healthy ego transcendence as impossible as the false kind. The greater your efforts become, the more of a spiritual force you lawfully elicit and make your own.

—The Pathwork® Guide