The Domestication of My Ego – Part 1

Understanding Ego as a Bubble of Limited Awareness

According to Freud, ego is that aspect of mind that “mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” (Oxford Dictionary – Ego) Although somewhat vague and esoteric, that definition appears to give my ego a position of power we might challenge.

Just to refresh, that level of awareness Freud called ego is “characterized by comparisons, competition, judgments, defense, blame, and perception of limited resources external to self. Survival-consciousness based on instinct.” (Aha Zone Glossary – Bubble Awareness)

The source of all that “bad juju” – judgments, blame, etc. – can’t be anything but bad, right? A demon! In ME!!!

From the Aha Zone perspective, “ego” appears as a limited conscious experience of life. From that perspective, it’s the originator of a person’s sense of self-esteem,self-importance, and self-worth. There’s some value in that which is useful to that part of me that needs to earn wholeness through value. Maybe it is the good guy!

In the Aha Zone, we define ego as that aspect of mind that views itself as separate from the whole. Through parlor tricks of smoke and mirrors, it seeks to convince the whole of mind that its sensual, emotional, and mental illusions are real. Thus, it supports and defends perception of separation as real and requiring attention.

The paradox is that the ego is, itself, unreal – an artifact of limited awareness. So, why the deception?

Defense is Everything and Nothing

Although I have a tendency to demonize ego – for example, “that’s just ego talking” – that’s just ego talking. The aspect of mind that seeks to convince my entire mind that its perception is the right/only perception, is neither demon nor angel. Instead, one might consider that aspect of mind as simply “busy” at its job. That job is to convince me that I am separate from that which I perceive. It’s an aspect of mind that gets a LOT of practice in my bubble of limited awareness!

Through a process of defense, wholeness experiences limitation while remaining whole. A sense of “separate me” defends itself against perceived threats to its separation. It confirms this sense by defending itself against everything outside itself. Thus, “I” interact with an illusory outside reality that appears to confirm my belief in its separate status. I am separate from my environment because it is separate from me. A self-referential logic error that results in an experience of limited awareness in an infinite sea of awareness.

The Power of Ego

Where does that illusory imagery come from? Evolutionary instinct? Learned behaviors? Chemical interactions in body-mind? Or could it simply be the result of intention? That intention of the whole to experience limitation.

In wholeness is ALL. And, to paraphrase Syndrome, the villain in the first The Incredibles movie, “When everyone’s whole, no one is.” What’s the fun in that?!

Maybe an infinite “I” wants to experience what it’s like to “be” limited. What if the intention of an infinitely powerful me is to experience something finite. To do that without actually being finite would require a device of some sort. That device would have to be “make believe”. Hmm, sounds a lot like ego to me.

Exploring the Matrix of the AHA ZONE

Exploring the matrix helps me understand it. By studying my bubble of limited awareness, it becomes a proverbial tool in my hand to investigate “Why?” Why the bubble, why limited awareness, why and why not?

This has led me to ask, “What, how, and why else?”

Perhaps the answer to all my questions lies in between the asking and the answering. Could this be where limited awareness is seeking resolution? A trip from nowhere to nowhere that I experience as reality?

Might recognition and appreciation of this instant of no-where-ness and no-when-ness, result in an incredible sense of gratitude and bliss? Could this be the fabled gateway to what lies beyond imagining, beyond questioning, beyond reality as I know it?

It’s All About Awareness!

Due to the limiting effect of separation, I can attend to only one mind at a time. Each mind competes for my attention.

Conscious thought promotes recognition of a paradoxical relationship between confusion and inquiry. Awareness promotes inquiry that promotes awareness. Awareness and inquiry are mutually supportive of an environment conducive to conscious choice. This awareness, in turn, affects the perceptual dynamic of fear in which I associate psychological change with physical threat.

That consciousness affects the way the mind interacts with its physical environment. This took the mind from fear and pain to questioning its reality. “In the past, I acted like this and failed. How else might I act instead?” That kind of inquiry spurred greater use of imagination. And exploration!

In ancient times, change was slow, painful, and in-your-face personal. Today, I can affect and accept change in an instant of Aha!

Breaking Out of Instinct

One evolutionary step in the direction of a new awareness was the recognition of symbolism. Someone realized that the world they perceived was more than it appeared.

Just as the mirror image is not the one it reflects. Those who drew animals on cave walls understood that the drawings were not the literal animals they drew. They applied an esoteric meaning that transcended literal interpretation.

A human broke the old instinctive patterns of interpretation by asking a question. They may have thought, “Wait just a second! What does this mean?” The Aha Zone is in that “instant” when we consider a meaningful question.

Today, I continue this tradition when I seek meaning in my life.

In each generation, one seems to appear to challenge the status quo – prompting all of us to explore beyond. That required an element of risk and some courage. Some of those folks in my past risked being barbequed for their disruptive ideas.

Over time, the concept of pain has shifted. I see pain as evidence of change. Because I expect change, I find pain much less frightening. Because change is inevitable, I can embrace the pain – and celebrate it as I adapt to the change.

Constant inquiry is the Aha Zone at work.

Some years ago, I listened to Fritjof Capra in which he stated that matter only appears to exist. That it is actually not material at all – instead, matter is made up of probability patterns.

Later, I heard that the closer to the speed of light one travels, the slower time passes. As an observer, I’d see light travel at about 186,000 miles per hour. If I were a tiny particle sitting on the photon I’d observed from a distance, I would experience no passage of time. I would literally arrive at my destination in the instant I left. The photon experiences no time passing. No concept of time as the observer reckons.

In other words, time and space do not exist as I reckon them.

Imagine that – having an experience of time and space where neither exists. What?!! How is that possible? It’s a paradox!

In order to experience, one must take themselves out of the flow of acceptance, investment, and defense… and into… the Aha Zone!

“What else…?” drives me forward, giving me the experience of change. I am cause, all I experience is effect. I experience time and space because I am change. Everything I experience expresses who I am. I am and I am not my experiences. Like the map is not the territory it represents, I am not reducible to an experience. It’s all figurative!

What does that mean? Well, then, maybe that is the ultimate question, “What is consciousness?” What gives me the capacity to have an experience of separation within wholeness? How am I the creator of my experience of life?

Occasionally, these questions flash a light into infinity – the Aha Zone.

What does this mean?

Relationship between Possession and Lack

“He who dies with the most toys wins,” has driven my world-view for much of my life. That’s because I grew up in a society based on possession. In that view, I see ownership as a characteristic of abundance and the solution to lack.

In my society, we’ve collectively chosen to view lack as public enemy number one. We’ve expended a lot of energy and resources to its eradication. In the process, our consumerism is rapidly depleting the resources of the planet.

Lack is a perception and concept. In its basic form, lack is a comparison value judgment. Possession is one way I seek to mediate the sense of lack. Still, no matter how much stuff I possess, I can still feel lack. Though there seems to be a relationship between possession and lack, that relationship may be an apparition.

Why do I perceive lack as the enemy?

I need a concept to counter wholeness in order to realize my intention to achieve it. This is a basic tenant of duality – separation from oneness. For every “this” I need a “not this” against which I can measure in order to perceive it.

How could I appreciate wholeness unless I conceive of its complement against which I can measure it?

You could say, I need lack in order to appreciate wholeness. Far from being the enemy, lack may instead be my friend. Appreciation of lack in the form of gratitude for everything that I perceive short of wholeness may be the only appropriate response to lack.

Possession does not cure lack. Nor does it equate to wholeness. Possession is merely a human contrivance that helps us order and defend societies. Without society, possession is pointless. Ultimately, upon death, I must release all interest in all possessions. I don’t even possess my own body.

I am having an experience of time and space – the result of my belief in it. I possess nothing in this world because there is nothing to possess. I experience it as I believe it.

Imagine that!

Tools that Serve My Intention

With intention come the tools to achieve it. Without awareness of a means to achieve fulfillment, intention would be an endless unfulfillable experience.

Intention Tools

I use tools to serve my intention to be whole. These are based on body and mind working together to achieve intended outcomes to serve the cause of need and its effect on fulfillment of this intention:

  • Purpose provides motivation to a cause with a specific effect.

    1. What specific form does my tool take? Ex: My body and my mind in its form and thought capabilities provide a means for carrying out the need of my intention.
    2. How do I use this tool? Ex: The actions of my body and the thoughts of my mind work to achieve specific goals for my intention.
    3. Why do I use this tool? Ex: My logic supports my life story.
    4. Who am I as a result of using this tool? Ex: My identity, symbolically represents my cause to serve.
  • Certitude – provides conviction to my purpose. An imagined ability to see, envision cause and effect within a scope of my direction.

    1. What specific form does this tool take? Ex: Generational beliefs and philosophies.
    2. How do I use this tool? Ex: Experience and acceptance from others.
    3. Why do I use this tool? Ex: My reasons based on principles and perceptions
    4. Who am I as a result of using this tool? Ex: relational perspective of self and use of imagination.
  • Predictability – provides an advantage of pattern-recognition in cause-effect relationships. Makes things possible through trust.

    1. What specific form does this tool take? Ex: Comparing and assigning values based on usefulness to me; relating certain types of patterns with success.
    2. How do I use this tool? Ex: Habitual behavior and attitudes depend on the continuous search for patterns I trust.
    3. Why do I use this tool? Ex: Prediction algorithms save me energy and time.
    4. Who am I as a result of using this tool? Ex: My ability to maintain patterned beliefs and ritual behavior symbolizes success through prejudiced predictability – a sense of rightness. Result: I feel successful, therefore, I’m validated.
  • Justification – provides reason and logic to a storyline that defends a perspective.

    1. What specific form does this tool take? Ex: If this/then that thinking creates equations from a closed perspective -> you hurt my feelings = you don’t care about me.
    2. How do I use this tool? Ex: I’ve created an imaginary world of reasonings designed to escape pain and convince me and others I’m right. I justify my perceptions in order to prove my intention and purpose.
    3. Why do I use this tool? Ex: Convincing is more important to me than the truth.
    4. Who am I as a result of using this tool? Ex: I take on a persona tailored to justify blocking interdependence and connection, “I’m right and you’re wrong!”

As I become aware of my intention to be whole, I apply different tools that work to fulfill the implied needs. In the process of fulfillment, I have an experience I call my life.

Lack and the Intention to Be Whole

The first cause within my bubble of limited awareness is my intention to be whole. This intention presupposes that I’m not whole – lacking. Lack dictates that my thoughts and actions have a debt to pay to achieve wholeness.

I must defend lack to support my intention to be whole. Defense of lack limits my awareness to something short of whole. Therefore, I can never achieve wholeness. Instead, I’m forever in pursuit of it.

ANY intention is an acknowledgement and so defense of lack. Perhaps I might investigate lack for the purpose of celebrating it. After all, my defense of lack supports my cause to experience limitation. Because lack supports my intention, exploring it may help me appreciate it.

Fighting against lack is a fool’s errand. Embracing and investigating my lack helps me understand the intention that drives it. This empowers me to better apply compassion, where the Aha Zone expands awareness to possibilities that promote adaptation and evolution.

Exploring Lack

What is the purpose for perception of lack? In a world of limited awareness, everything would appear limited – lacking. This would create motivation in the form of pursuit of fulfillment. For example: Thirst must be quenched, hunger must be satisfied, death must be followed by life, and etc. Psychologically, thoughts and emotions seek resolution.

I live by reactive programs based in lack that I obey without question. There is no allowance for questioning. no need for understanding, only following the program. I obey my intention to create wholeness in a world of lack.

I use these programmed defenses of lack to perceive myself whole:

  • What form I take validates lack. I perceive my form validates the limits I place on what I can be.
  • How I think, feel, and act to validate lack. How my form functions validates the limits I place on what I do.
  • Why I must validate lack. Why I perceive my form and function validates my need to defend lack.
  • Who I am in terms of lack. Who I believe I am as a limited being validates my lack of wholeness.

In the bubble, my existence depends on the attention I pay to my program.

Questioning Lack

The old belief was that one must overcome lack through the use of force and defense. This required a sufficient sense of need to generate sufficient effort to achieve a worthy goal. One must earn their way through life. This makes life a reactive experience based on values I assign.

To change, I might seek to understand the process I used to acquire the old belief. Maybe a start might include appreciation of lack as it has served me. This change may take some redirection of my natural persistence and focus. Sweet – an evolutionary rather than revolutionary change.

Questions might help me break into secrets my needs hide from me. I’ve accepted my defense of my needs as who I am without question. Probably because when I did, I was unaware I could ask questions. In effect, my only question as an infant was (maybe), “how do I feel?”

Further, as an infant, I was unskilled in communicating my ideas. Those I might ask were of that same acceptance and defense – and so unable to assist me in that way. Thus, we continued the pattern of old beliefs about lack without question.

Today, I’m capable of asking questions that challenge my acceptance and defense by acknowledging them. For example, I might consider a goal and ask:

  • What do I need to fill this sense of lack?
  • How can that need be fulfilled?
  • Why does that need fulfillment bring me a sense of wholeness?
  • Who do I believe I am when I feel fulfilled?

Targeted self-inquiry brings insights that can lead to deeper understandings and appreciations of lack. Rather than fighting and avoiding lack, we might instead look at it as the medium for change that it is.