I have had a really good time lately working with meditation. I say “with” on purpose here as I am not really working ON meditation as it is really not a well defined objective or skill. I can work ON deadlifting because the goal is very concrete and, therefore, has very linear thoughts and steps to reach to an end. Meditation, by its very nature, is without a concrete goal and, therefore, without an end. And it sort of needs to be that way. It is the conversation with yourself and no one at all in order to deeper your understanding of things you have not yet thought of.
For a long time, I was greatly influenced by the words of Ekhart Tolle. “You are not the voice inside your head, you are the awareness of the voice inside your head.” Just that idea has led to some very fun mental games. It allowed another level of space and freedom that I was otherwise unknowingly confined by. It allowed true objective thought and evaluation of myself and the world I was a part of.
But with that, I was stuck in a trap. The voice in my head never really goes away. It stays there and is now either louder or softer. I now have a way of analyzing it and viewing it as not an all encompassing thing. I can see that it is a piece of me that occupies a finite space, just as my hands and feet do. This is all well and good, but to further the conundrum, the voice inside my head was creating some very healthy and productive break throughs. It was also a source of joy and sorrow, just as much as I love that my feet can explore the world but yell profanities when I stub my toe. So there has been this ongoing process of observation, reflection, and action. I am trying to “Do … be … do … be … do” that is talked about in The Quantum Activist. In the process of being and doing I came to the point where I saw that much of my relationship with the ego and that inner voice was negative. I had created a space and idea from various books, readings, movies, and popular culture that the ego was to be cast off and exiled, never to return to ruin my life again. As with many things lately, I began to challenge this assumption.
In hindsight, I can reason that the ego is a necessity of the conscious mind. It is the beta testing platform to be used to work out the bugs before taking something online into our reality. I can see it as an internal workshop that allows you to fidget and create and expand. It is the ability to create something or someone that is entirely unique and new and see if it works with our current world view at the time. It is the space in which we do the very thing we were meant to do in this life . . . Create! It is a internal universe with no rules, no bounds, no limitations, or restrictions. It is infinite in every sense of the word.
So we have this ego that I can now see as a positive thing, which is the direct opposite thinking I have had of it for years. We also talk of purging the ego and letting go of the ego as if it is a burden that we just need to put down. We objectify it so harshly that we create a constant internal struggle of trying to suppress our greatest survival tool ever, the ability to be Not Me. Being Not Me is what allowed us to run down a single deer from the herd, catch fish as they follow typical feeding patterns, and learn the migration habits of herds. It allows us to pretend to be, and think as and move as, the very thing that we need and desire; prey. We are able to set traps because we can understand an animal so intimately that we know what will draw it in and what it is unable to comprehend as dangerous. Our ability to imagine being Not Me has given us a huge evolutionary advantage. So perhaps the ego is one of our greatest tools, so why are we not using it as such?
Now we get even deeper. We need to allow conjecture and speculation. Almost every indigenous tribe we have studied has patterns and rituals that include self exploration and spirituality. Sometimes its a boy becoming a man after arduous physical tasks. Other times its a mental voyage using plant medicine led by a Shaman. I can create a concept now in which these cultural rituals were there to keep us in balance. To not be too drawn into the Not Me world, which is extremely seductive. In Not Me world, we can be anything or anyone, and it becomes a drug that creates a strong addiction. These rituals are a way to make sure we keep kicking the proverbial habit. A way to restore balance to our mind and purge ourselves of the toxic accumulation of the ego.
Now I am able to have a huge sense of relief being able to come at terms with these two parts. I can be Me and Not Me because they are both, actually, me. As with all things, however, we need to see the balance in this game. I can see that I have easily been seduced by the pretend world of Not Me. It tells me that I am an amazing doctor, that I have certainly earned a beer after such a “hard” day of work, and that having one more piece of chocolate couldn’t do any harm at all. It tells me that I am stronger than most people, and that no one has ever had such a brilliant idea, and that I can always workout tomorrow. And what a fantastic trick it would be if the ego could convince me that it is actually really important and not to be banished but celebrated as a great thing! And then, we should make a letter to tell our closest people just how good the ego is, which makes me important and smart!
So maybe this is all a big trick . . . but maybe not.