Freedom from the Ego

finding-happiness-2480Some nights ago while doing a spiritual clearing and cleaning I stumbled upon some lessons with Craig Hamilton from a couple of years ago. shifting through the material I realized what treasure lies within his teachings as the guidance he shares so well is truly inspiringly . As a matter of fact, I find Craig Hamilton’s spiritual teachings to probably be some of the most “straight to the point”-spiritual teachings I know of, yet they are full of clarity. I want to share this article with you as I find it so well spoken about the Ego and how we by simple awareness can let our Ego be a part of our spiritual transformation instead of letting it pull us away – even temporarily – from our spiritual path. Read and reflect.

Many of us today are engaging in a tremendous amount of spiritual work on ourselves. We’re meditating, praying, attending workshops, seminars, and retreats. And yet the vast majority of us are making the same mistake. We tend to put far too much significance on the need to work out our personal psychological issues as part of our spiritual path. It’s important to recognize that this isn’t our fault. This tendency grew out of our psychotherapeutic culture which basically told us that we were all messed up by our childhood and that we have “inner wounds” that need to be healed in order to become happy and fulfilled as adults. And, as the great enlightenment teachings have been imported to the West, this psychotherapeutic worldview has gradually become superimposed onto the spiritual path.

The way this plays out practically is as follows: let’s say that I take up a spiritual practice in earnest, and I notice in the course of that practice that I’m deeply defended against life and intimacy. I won’t let other people see me. I always wear a social mask which actually hides a lot of insecurity. Well, upon discovering this, as a psychologically informed modern, my tendency is going to be to withdraw inward, to go back to my past, to start plumbing the depths of my psyche to try to find and uproot the personal causes of this fear and insecurity, and this tendency to hide myself from life.

But in an authentic spiritual context, we would point out that this “personal problem” you’ve discovered is in fact simply one of the basic, ordinarymanifestations of ego. And, rather than sending you on an endless and pointless archaeological dig into your psyche, we’d simply encourage you to face directly into the Truth of what you were seeing, to see the psychological tendency clearly, and the motivations that are driving it in the present. Most importantly, we’d encourage you to make direct effort in the opposite direction of your habitual response. So, in this example, when you see yourself preparing to put on a good face, we would encourage you to instead take the frightening leap to be transparent and vulnerable.

Upon reading this, many psychologically informed experts will protest, asserting that, if it were that easy to change, everyone would have already changed and there would be no need for . . . well, no need for psychotherapy . . . And this is a perfectly reasonable response from someone who has had no experience engaging in the kind of spiritual practice I’m describing. But what happens when we let go of this compulsion to work out our problems, and instead begin to directly engage in a path of active transformation like the one I encourage, is that we suddenly find that we have access to a part of our self that is already free from our ego’s limitations and issues. It’s a part of our self that was never wounded or traumatized, that doesn’t need to be healed, that is already whole and complete, and has access to boundless energy, creativity, and positivity, and is completely ready to participate in life fully,boldly, passionately, holding nothing back. And, in this, we feel instantly connected to the heart of the spiritual thrust behind the Kosmos.

Miraculously, what we find in doing this work is that when people awaken to and begin to act from this deeper, truer part of the self, then all of the psychological issues, blocks, wounds, complexes, and neuroses that would have taken years to work through suddenly seem to dissolve. Now, the truth is that they haven’t dissolved. They can still be reactivated if we step back into the perspective of the ego. But in light of this newfound, higher potential, and the profound sense of purpose and meaning that comes with it, we discover a powerful reason to no longer fall prey to our “issues.” Simply put, they are no longer interesting to us, and in that, they lose their power over our psyche. And that seems to make all the difference in the world. In this, we begin to discover the real meaning of freedom from the ego. And we learn that this freedom is not something we have to wait for. It can happen now if we’re willing to give our heart and soul to it.” – Craig Hamilton (Integral Enlightment)

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Life: Acceptance

I’ve come to discover that when one in a discussion brings up the subject – or suggestion – of acceptance, most people react negatively. A lot of individuals see acceptance as something that isn’t good. Some mean that we can not possibly “sit down, relax and accept things” in an “always on demand and connected” society were everything is changing so very fast and when there still is so much in need of acceptance_hto2008further change. Many others respond with asking what seem to be the most important question “well, if someone hurt you or harm someone you love should you then just accept what has happened and maybe even worse, forgive that person?!”. I understand these reactions as they are very legitimate. Acceptance can be kind of scary. That is, in the beginning of ones practise. In the beginning it can be difficult to let go of control of – or on trying to control – that which you know might have an impact on your life. It can be really difficult not to try and steer things, people or events in a, by you, desired direction.

Being in control – or rather the feeling of not being in control – and it’s impact on our behaviours is a phenomena widely studied. The feeling of not being in control of whatever it is that an individual feels not being in control of, has been scientifically sfull-yellow-flower-in-stone-wallhown to be a trigger for not only addictions like alcohol, drugs and sex but for illnesses such as anorexia nervosa, anorexia bulimia and other illnesses with distorted body images (like obsessive exercising or dieting among healthy individuals with normal bodyweight) as well.

People feel lack of control in such variety of areas that it is almost overwhelming – with everything ranging from money issues, work issues, relationship issues to health issues and so on. And the amazing thing is that when one of these areas seems to be “in control” or feels like it, most individuals direct focus on another area where there is a perceived lack of control – and unconsciously use that as a trigger, or “excuse” to continue with the damaging behaviour. We are acting like the hamster on a wheel!

It’s worth to mention that some people do not “act out” when in a situation where they experience lack of control but in fact do not act at all. Instead they might feel, and usually openTo complain is always non-acceptance of what isly declare, themselves as “victims of the circumstances” with no power what so ever to change the situation, or they might simple feel overly helpless and become totally passive. Regardless of how one might react and feel when one experiences lack of control, the above explained is not the same thing as the meaning I am putting on the practise of “acceptance”. What I am talking about is a mindful approach to acceptance.

Let me explain further. We all know that life‘s complicated, hard, messy and even painful at times. At some point(s) we get so knocked down at what we are faced with that we don’t even know how to – or even if we want to – get up and move on. There’s no denying or getting around that. Facts are though that most of us – and bless the ones who did or choose not to – do get up. But many do not move on! There are so many individuals whom gotten stuck somehow in Now, yesterday, and tomorrow words on blackboard, Time concept.those feelings of pain, suffering, resentment and the likes. In other words, although the situation has changed on the outside, it’s still the same on the inside as it was when these individuals first encountered that event, thing or person that triggered it all. They are (un)consciously holding onto a feeling which doesn’t make them feel better but worse. And in some instances this turns into a pattern, which is where the ‘danger’ lies in it.

By holding onto feelings of pain, suffering, resentment and so on, we expose ourselves to the risk of these feelings turning into pure suffering. We are in other words causing ourselves to suffer! (Un)consciously. I know some may object to this and claim that “but it wasn’t my fault, (s)he did this and that, this happened to me, etc.”. And yes, you might be very right! Or not!

Presume that we are victims of circumstances – which I for the record do not believe   myself as I think of us all as spiritual co-creators of our life in one way or another and more or less. Anyway, even as victims of some really nasty circumstances that totally knocks us off our feet and turns our world around to the almost unrecognizable and even less bearable, we do have within us the power and blessing to choose not only how we will react to it but also for how long it is going to have such (huge or small) impact on our life. And of course this is individually!

acceptanceSo what can one do about it? Well, the answer is simple but putting it into action might not always be that easy. It works however and it is in my opinion the only way to move on. Acceptance. Act on that which you in fact can change and accept that which you can not! Some things, many things, are totally out of our control no matter how much we in one way or another try holding on to controlling it. And it doesn’t matter what the objectives are, we still can not control it. By accepting this, and I mean truly intensely accepting it, we free ourselves from a sometimes very heavy burden. We free ourselves from suffering. We move from that which belongs to the Past, embrace our Present – the Now – and creates possibilities for a glorious Future.

the past is goneWe can never change what has happened in the past and we know nothing at all of what the future has in store for us. But it is in the now that we can fully live by accepting that we are not to control or be controlled. We are to live, learn and fully love! I most definitely know that life is really hard and painful at times and that it can be, and feel, utterly impossible to even gain the strength to breathe. It is true though that wisdom comes through struggle – it may sound like a bad cliché but in most cases it is in fact correct. That wisdom is gained at the moment you stop struggling and instead accept what is.

In his book The Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama states that Image1I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.” Beautifully said.

Life: Path to happiness

Many people, including myself from time to time, feel that as global citizens we are over-stimulated on so many levels. This over-stimulation has led us to a point where it at times seems that we have lost the ability to pursue one thing at the time, out of fear that we’ll somehow miss out on all the others. It also has led us to lose our connection with our inner voice. Sometimes to such a degree that we forget to saviour the blessings God has provided us with.

The silence of ones inner voice – or purpose, if you’d prefer – is without doubt one of the main reason that the people I’ve been working with have experienced some or many parts of their life as a struggle. A tough, many times seemingly never-ending, struggle for “something else” or “everything”, be it greater “success”, that promotion, a job,  another job, the perfect partner, more money, a house, a bigger house, a more expensive car or even two, preferably more material things or anything else that in one way or another provides a (false) sense of being “good enough” or “successful” – more admiration, or even better, envy from others. More, more and more stimulation or anything that can satisfy ones Ego in its search for validation, short-term gratification and external recognition. Mostly at any price.

Yet there’s still a feeling of not being good enough – a sense of emptiness – and/or a void within. A void that not even the deepest precious love from our nearest and dearest can fill. A void that seem be always present – hence the feeling of never-ending struggle. Lack of happiness. And as a “problem-solver”, instead of looking at their selves some individuals instead express themselves as victims. OthersimagesC even put blame on their loved one(s) for “not providing” that which they feels their loved one(s) in fact should be providing – the picture-perfect relationship and/or family – without acknowledging that it takes two to tango or simply understanding that two half individuals can not and should not become one whole. For some people this widely spread denial of ones own responsibility for ones own life, choices and happiness have caused them to stir up emotions, relationships and even families because they were “unhappy” and someone (else) should’ve fixed it. As humans we want and need to feel authentic, to contribute, to experience and to give more love, wanting to ‘do what I came here to do’ and yet instead of doing and becoming this with our loved one(s) close to us – embarking on the journey together – we go separate ways. And continue to look for that “perfect partner” and/or “new family” whom will “make” us happy…and the next one…

What we need to do is to stop moving forward like a run-away train and start looking inside of ourselves to ask ourselves some important questions. It is only by doing so we can take our first steps along the path of our true destiny and purpose – towards total happiness. One needs to connect with one’s heart and to honor one’s soul’s deepest yearnings and not just follow the “regular”, “normal” and socially accepted path and, by that, simply take what you get. And then you make your choices and take proper action – based on honest (to yourself), compassionate, loving and wise grounds.  It’s all worth it, which is something that many people whom already are happily engaged on their own fulfilling path – contributing to the lives of others, waking up each day happy to be alive and bursting with a sense of purpose and deep personal satisfaction – will vouch for. I’ve been blessed to follow many of my clients on their journeys, sometimes even from their momenmeditatingts of shifting gear into a new exiting path. It is truly a wonderful experience and blessing – every single time – when an individual come to discover that all his/hers answers are found within. Answers that simply might have been long-buried under feelings of self-doubt, confusion, over-thinking, other people’s expectations or perhaps even all the above.

So, how do you reach this inner knowledge? How to you truly get to know yourself and that which will bring you true happiness? This is where meditation steps in. For you, as for many others, meditation can be the key to discovering what you are “all about”.  your greater Purpose. Meditation, with a consistent repetition, is a wonderful “tool” of learning that surely can take you from where you are today to significant spiritual, emotional and intuitive growth. Meditation not only allows us to connect with our divine consciousness – and thereby gain access to wisdom that resides beyond the reach of our everyday consciousness – but it also provides for invaluable insights about oneself and the nature of ones own purpose.

By practising meditation – and prayer, if one wants to separate them (I read somewhere that what separates themImage1 is that “in prayer You are asking God the questions and in meditation He is providing you with the answers”) – we somehow can familiarise ourselves with our true nature and gain a deeper awareness of ourselves. Finding ourselves means learning to observe ourselves, our lives and the evidence they present to us about who, or what, we are. It does require though that we are transparent to ourselves, in other words that we are being honest, non-judgemental and loving towards ourselves regardless of what we “find”. And eventually, as you begin to master your spiritual growth and go along through this journey I am confident you’ll eventually find that you begin to practise the same approach to other people.

Meditation really is a path to greater self-awareness. And it’s simple. Listening is the key – and trusting, knowing and allowing are the doors it opens. Remember, it’s never ever too late to begin again and you’re never too old to start living your life on your own terms. We are all God’s children, just beginning to take our first tentative steps. And if you’ve been struggling be thankful that this struggle has led you to meditation because meditation will lead you to happiness.