What is the Ego?
Our special theme says, “To know reality is not to see the ego and it thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in them entails.”
Yesterday I wrote, “People often wonder how enlightened masters, who claim to see no world, appear to us as everyday people with everyday lives.” Next, I shared a story about Nisargadatta when a questioner accused him of seeing a world and having a body by saying, “I see you smoking!”
Today, I would like to share a little more about how it’s possible for us to see a master in a body when the master is not aware of having a body.
On this topic, Bernadette Roberts wrote:
…permanent ecstasy appears incompatible with continued earthly existence. … But if the senses could remain perfectly functional or awake during ecstasy, the world of ordinary life could go on as usual, only without self or consciousness. So perfect ecstasy is the ability of the senses to remain awake and perfectly functional in the absence of consciousness. …
Thus one of the imperceptible changes that takes place between the beginning and the end of the unitive state [the real world] is the increasing ability of the senses to stand alone and not be affected by any change in consciousness or any change in the self-experience. … “pure sensory perception” becomes increasingly important and trustworthy; also, ecstasy or the suspension of consciousness becomes increasingly more perfect, more natural and everyday—though not permanent. So the path that lies ahead once we come to the unitive state will ultimately bring about the separation of these two different systems—namely, consciousness and the senses. The purpose of this separation is to enable the senses to remain awake and functional once the system of consciousness has fallen away. …
In other words, part of the transition period that we call the real world is learning to abide in reality without being attached to the body, which enables the body to continue being moved without an ‘I’ to move it!
As Michael Langford explains in his book, Manonasa:
When the illusory body called Nisargadatta Maharaj says, “I am not aware of the body or the world,” he is referring to the Self. … Nisargadatta did not say that the body is not aware of the world. Nisargadatta did not say that the body now talking is not aware of the world. He said, “I am not aware of the body and the world.”
Or as Nisargadatta said:
Do not be misled by my eating and smoking, reading and talking. My mind is not here, my life is not here. Your world, of desires and their fulfilments, of fears and their escapes, is definitely not my world. I do not even perceive it, except through what you tell me about it. It is your private dream world and my only reaction to it is to ask you to stop dreaming.
I am affected only by my thoughts.
The prayer in today’s lesson says:
Your plan is sure, my Father,—only Yours. All other plans will fail. And I will have thoughts that will frighten me, until I learn that You have given me the only Thought that leads me to salvation. Mine alone will fail, and lead me nowhere. But the Thought You gave me promises to lead me home, because it holds Your promise to Your Son.
In the tip for Lesson 327, I wrote:
The God that we call on for guidance is not some distant deity, knowledge or awareness. We are the one that took the outward journey from truth to our present attachment to manifestation, and every step of that journey is recorded in our divine unconscious. Therefore, the reverse of each step is known in our own divine unconscious. Our own unconscious knows the way! The communication that comes from this unconscious knowing is what I call spiritual intuition.
We can see how true this statement is when we look at Bernadette’s explanation about how the senses learn to stay awake without consciousness. Our divine unconsciousness remembers how we detached from ecstasy and the knowledge of our Self in order to attach to a body as what we are. Therefore, it knows we need to reverse that action by learning to abide in ecstasy again. Every step of our way home will be laid out for us. We simply need to trust and take the step that we need to take right now!
Please use today to contemplate how perfectly we are led. Use today as an opportunity to increase trust in guidance that comes from your own spiritual intuition. Realize it will move you to the next step only when you are ready for that next step. In fact, when writing about the stage of learning to detach from the body and abide in ecstasy, Bernadette wrote:
Until preparation is right, ecstasy keeps returning to the self or consciousness. … The gauge is an increasing ability to ‘bear the vision’ as it were, without the senses going down or without everyday life and its normal behavior coming to a standstill.
So God takes its last step to awaken us beyond consciousness when we are ready for that step, after an effective transition period, which the Course calls “the real world.” What a loving process!