Relationship ~ Spiritual Awareness
If we want to live our lives from a spiritual and intercultural perspective, we must become aware of the part of ourselves that we call the ego. As Eckhart Tolle in Stillness Speaks says, the ego is the self that needs to resist, exclude, oppose. This self maintains a separateness – a ‘me’ versus ‘them’ stance. Ben and Rosamund Zander, authors of The Art of Possibility, call the ego the “calculating self,” while the “central self” always tells the truth. As we examine the actions of our ego, we may discover that the ego readily goes to work defending itself and resisting closer examination. That is its job, to protect and defend its sense of self, i.e., ‘you.’
We are no longer primitive beings whose physical survival demands that we live in constant fight or flight mode. Yet this survival mechanism still operates in our daily lives in response to countless emotional and psychological ‘threats.’ The ego hasn’t learned how much we have evolved as a species. Craig Hamilton, a distinguished spiritual teacher, notes that we are now in a time of “conscious evolution,” when we can direct the course of our social and cultural evolution. From that conscious awareness our work as individuals is to step more into the creative self (Zanders’ central self) that can bring about a world that is more peaceful and honoring of all beings. In order to do so we must become very conscious of our egoic self.
The ego is tricky. It can easily be in charge of our thoughts and actions without us realizing it. We all have an ego that works hard at protecting the self.
Our work today is to become aware of when our ego is controlling our life. We can find our ego in our self-story, the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves, some of which have come out of our conditioning from the past — our should-have, could-have, and would-have self.
The ego is:
- The self that makes me right and you wrong
- The self that justifies
- The self that complains and resists
- The self that is never satisfied for long
- The self that carries resentment
All of these actions occur to protect the sense of self. They are part of the story we make up about ourselves. We all do this.
When we look at our life through a spiritual lens, we awaken to the truth that we are much greater than we ever imagined. We are the creator of our own reality. In our spiritual work we may adopt practices that help foster this creativity. Yet there is still this limiting self, the ego, which is very used to getting its way and can sometimes run our lives. Spiritual and intercultural work come together in this place where we focus on allowing the most creative part of ourselves to come forward, and we gently ask our limiting self to take a back seat.
Intercultural work is about developing the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills to create a more inclusive extended family, community, workplace, and society. Spiritual work is about tapping into the essence of who I really am and what I can creatively contribute to the betterment of life here on earth. In my spiritual work I also come to know the many faces of ego, so that I am aware of its motivations and do not allow it to run my life.
Here are a few simple steps that you can practice to help you live your life more from a spiritual and intercultural perspective:
- Learn about your own ego’s ways of showing up in your daily life.
- Notice when your ego is trying to run your interpretation of what is happening in your life, i.e., making you right and others wrong.
- Once you are aware of your ego’s perspective, change your focus away from the event that was triggering your defenses or resistance. Shift your attention to a positive change that really matters to you. What does your heart really want?
- Once your focus changes to what you really want, your decision of what to do next can change. You can live from your more creative inclusive self!
For an example of how this plays out, read Ann’s blog called Inner Reflections from June 28, 2012.