Another thread inspired by Craig's posting in "diverting discussions".
Craig said there:
"My frustration with Tolle is that by not offering many
concrete tools for how one reaches a state above thought and judgment—
outside of ego—he has created a very painful cycle of almost despair
amongst many of my dear friends. Even though Tolle sites many times
that judgment and self-judgment are ego, these people have a devil of
a time not self-jackaling that they are in ego. Tolle lacks something
like self-empathy to deal with being in, above, and bellow ego.
Eckhart’s admonition to observe, breath, and meditate are not enough
to help people out of the “am I in ego” cycle of self-judgment."
I'm very familiar with that problem. When I was in Montreal I attended some workshops by a woman who made the distinction of the ego and the spiritual self. And whenever she decided that something that somebody in the course did, came from the ego, she criticized it right a way and added something like "Oh come on, I know that this is not the best of you. I want the best of you! Show me your real self!" And more often than not people were confused, angry, anxious or ashamed. And when that happened they were told again that that was the ego. Congratuliations! What better way is there to create a hell of a vicious cirlce and a double bind in the thinking!
The people that got me there were my roommates in Montreal. And they too don't seem to have access to self-empathy, because they are judging themselves as being again in their "stuff" and their "story" and that they "should get out" by deciding to put their attention elsewhere. But practically that almost never works. They still have a divided mind. And that creates dithering and anxiety.
I got into the question what is actually meant by the ego and after some time I found the following: Since ego doesn't mean anything other than "I" the problem that people point to when using the word ego in a bad sense, is not that they have an ego, but that the ego, the self-image, doesn't include enough of the Kosmos yet. For example, there are shadow elements, which you don't recognize in yourself and therefore also not in others. And then these others seem threatening, evil, sinister, because you haven't understood the needs yet, that are met by actions that evoke such interpretations. Once you understand the needs in yourself, you can assume them as well in others. And therefore you can trascend your current identification and go to the next level, in which you have a newer sense of what it is like to be you, that is more inclusive and more embracing than the ones gone before. There is less, that you are seperated from, because you have identified with more of what is totally there. Therefore there is also less anxiety and stress.
So the spiritual self is in fact also ego. Only an ego that includes more of the aspects of who and what you really are. Ramana Maharshi used the term "I-I" for the Big Self that he was identified with and that inculdes the whole universe. That means, being a wave in the ocean, the individual recognizes the universal "wetness" of the whole ocean and every other wave in it.
The problem that tends to occur in people who have no access to self-empathy, while impulses come up that they identify as egoic in a bad sense, is that they tend to not transcend and include, but to transcend and deny or repress. And unfortunatley this isn't recognized very easily by spiritual teachers of various traditions, just because they are not as well trained as would be necessary. In fact, psychotherapy has much better tools for these problems, because it tends to focus on the lower levels of development and what can go wrong there in terms of fear and loss of empathic connection. The only reason that psychotherapy doesn't go further than strengthening the ego in its everyday functioning is that most therapists aren't aware of the transpersonal stages of development so they stop the process short there. But actually the whole endeavour of strengthening (psychotherapy) and transcending (sprituality) the ego is ONE SINGLE process: strengthening the witness-consciousness that is necessary to observe what's going on and not be identified, i.e. controlled by it anymore. It is ONE developmental line. The developmetnal psychologies Robert Keagan said "The subject on one stage becomes the object of the subject on the next stage." to define devlopment. And for that, the witness consciousness, that we have with meditation, is necessary.
If we don't see this as one singel process, problems that come up with practices proposed by spiritual teachers, will not be dealt with in a way that heals the wounds and opens up a different way, but in terms of transcend and deny or repress. John Welwood also calls this "spiritual bypassing". The problem is misunderstood and therefore no solution can help. And who wants that?
I believe NVC is really unique here, because it covers the whole line, in a certain sense. That is, it helps at every stage of the line, if you go open up to the more spiritual meanings of needs and aliveness. And there is no ego in the language of NVC, therefore these confusions which block self-empathy, are less likely to occur. Still it helps to know and understand what people might mean by ego and how to deal with my identiy. I hope this posting is a contribution to that.
I'd love to hear feedback and thoughts that are stirred up by what I wrote.
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