Tag Archives: healing

Self-Esteem: Ego or Enlightenment?

Self-esteem, from an ego perspective, consists of three distinct processes: continuously forming an identity, evaluating an identity (comparing), and then maintaining and protecting one’s identity. These processes have operated in humanity for thousands of years and literally determine how alive or real a person feels:

  • “Who am I?”
  • “Do I have value?” (relative to others)
  • “When my identity is threatened, I must defend it at all costs.”

The stronger the identity, the more reinforcement it requires, and the more alive the person feels when the ego is well fed. It is fragile and delicate, but also vicious.

People who have developed a strong positive view of self have a very strong will to exercise their confidence in the world. They want to achieve things, have ambition, take risks to try new things, and are driven by failures as opportunities for growth. Such people are deemed successful by society, where success is measured by one’s potential to make life work out – productive career, enjoying work, accumulating wealth and status, being surrounded by those who love and even adore us, and being recognized for our achievements. Maybe these personas will project an image of not needing others to validate them, but they are constantly looking for the world to say “You’ve done good!” and, maybe, “I envy you.”

People with a strong negative self view define themselves to be limited, are unable to see their potential, and perceive setbacks as further validation that life does not work – perhaps, life can never work. Paradoxically, such people are constantly seeking positive recognition, but focus exclusively on what they consider their failures to reinforce the belief that they are doomed to fail. They live as if the deck is always stacked against them, develop a persona to mask their insecurities, and take action out of fear that they will be ultimately exposed as fake. Such people hide from life to avoid exposure, which is severely painful and embarrassing to them.

In reality, a person identifies with both positive and negative aspects. Interestingly, when the self is threatened or confronted by life situations, the ego will take over a seemingly nice person and they are transformed into a creature that is driven by pure fear. The person lashes out, behaves like a cornered animal, exercises tactics of dominance and manipulation, and wishes destruction upon anyone challenging or exposing their fragile self-view. There is also a high degree of paranoia that blindly projects one’s intentions onto anyone who opposes the egoic position.

During a confrontation or a heated situation, an ego loses the capacity to discern which part is itself vs. which part is owned by someone else. It equates love and support with those who reinforce its walls, and equates a threat with those who confront it. Ego wants to feel power and force, but these are fleeting and must be constantly fed.

From an ego-free perspective, the ruffled ego is self-absorbed, defensive, offensive, and an expression of fear. Enlightenment is difficult for ego to even imagine because the ego has such a strong compulsion to defend itself at all costs – it is a very strong and stable process, hardwired in humanity to do what it does. What is most striking is that ego has such a limiting effect on a being that it is painful to watch. It’s as if someone found a penny on the street and fights off others from taking it away using heavy artillery.

Ego creates karma, and egolessness unwinds karma and catalyzes healing.

There is a myth that an enlightened being must give everything away and give in to the wishes of others – if one is not attached, why have anything? However, while living on Earth and in a body, no life can continually give of itself and survive. In fact, acts of martyrdom are typically unnecessary because Life wants us to live and to express. An enlightened being will balance giving and receiving what is needed to sustain one’s life and ability to shine. In other words, such a being will sometimes be called to fight for his or her life (and the lives for whom this being is responsible) because life is a valued treasure. However, at the core, there is no attachment to the outcome – just complete surrender to that which lives the body.

This lack of passivity in enlightened beings is very difficult for egos to understand and can be misinterpreted to be just another ego. I think that most people expect enlightenment to be about giving away all of one’s possessions and walking around and begging for food. An enlightened being will do so only if necessary, but will also gladly accept a life of comfort. If there is no comfort and begging is a necessity, there are no tears about it.

While there is no attachment to any situation, the enlightened being will not just give everything away – there is none of “Take whatever you need and go.” That is a denegration of life: like the tree that bears fruit and all come and strip it bare without caring for it at all, taking the fruit and the tree for granted.

Fighting for life is appropriate and is not a sign of unenlightenment. Such a fight will look for ways to end a battle in a way where all are healed.

Conversely, fighting as ego – as an identity – is a limiting endeavor. Because an ego feels little to nothing beyond the things and people that sustain it or threaten it, the ego is like a rabid animal that bites and gnaws and relishes in pain – it could care less about all coming out of the battle healed. The flared ego has no empathy – no capacity to understand others or to take a big-picture view of a situation. The ego only sees itself in everything and everyone.

The ego will refuse to recognize a free being because that would be its certain death, and it must prevail. The free being must tango and tussle with egos, handle the attacks, but is fundamentally immersed in a state of peace, awe, and gratitude in Life.

Self-esteem that is based in ego is very different than the value an enlightened being acknowledges of one’s life.

What threatens your sense of self? As long as someone is there to be threatened, self-esteem is just a game of dominance for one’s world view.

A healed life esteem does not seek to harm others and, in fact – wishes to help others heal, but also takes no shit and often pops the fragile bubbles that hold hostage the light within us all.

These messages about life need to go

When we are born and open our eyes, we immediately begin to shape our beliefs about life.

Some messages we receive are blatant – “be careful” (or, “always be on guard”). Other messages are more subtle, like “you must work hard to live” and “mistakes are always punished.”

I’ve taken stock of the nonconstructive messages with which our unconscious may be bombarded – and we can carry these stoways for decades or a lifetime. While an unexamined life is still worth living, examining our underlying beliefs sure makes life easier.

What concerns me most is that our young people are getting these messages much faster now than in previous years, and this can be devastating to forming their identities. What can we do to change this?

Here is a list, based on careful observation and bypassing doublespeak. Some are quotes from songs and burrow in the unconscious faster. The unconscious speaks in life-or-death terms, which is probably due to our survival evolution and self-protection.

  • Happiness is equal to having our basic survival needs met – everything else is gravy.
  • Happiness is being better than someone else.
  • Happiness is found in distraction from real life (if we can’t be better than others).
  • We will seldom or never do what we truly like.
  • We are born to work hard until we die.
  • Fight for everything or die. Dominate, or be dominated.
  • Everyone is replaceable.
  • There is never enough of what we need.
  • No one will ever accept us for who we really are.
  • No one cares about our lives, even if they pretend to.
  • Unconditional love is impossible.
  • We are fundamentally flawed.
  • We are ugly.
  • We are stupid and incompetent.
  • We lack creativity.
  • We are broken.
  • Our lives are meaningless and we are worthless.
  • Mistakes are not allowed – on any level.
  • We are fundamentally and always alone.
  • Trust no one.
  • Fear everything.
  • We live on borrowed time. There is never enough time.
  • Intergity is overrated – it gets you in trouble. Lying is easier.
  • Nothing is our bithright, except suffering. (“There’s no such thing as free lunch, unless it’s trash.”)
  • Only the good die young and are free of this prison.
  • Life is hell. Shit always happens.
  • Live for today and don’t think about tomorrow.
  • The only true gift is sensual pleasure – party as much as you can.
  • Feel nothing to feel no pain.
  • We don’t deserve to be truly happy.
  • When life gets you down, get back up – but don’t expect it to be any different.
  • There is no free will, and we don’t get to choose anything of consequence (except maybe the flavor of our cereal).
  • Life is a slow death.
  • Aging is to be avoided.
  • Only a few chosen ones can serve as an intermediary between the Divine and us.
  • Look forward to death because something better awaits us on the other side. The dead are “in a better place.”

Many people don’t realize what they actually believe deep inside until they take the time to unravel what lies beneath. Imagine having self-denigrating and often-contradictory beliefs driving your choices (which you do have) and actions. Self-sabotage is so common – why is that?

The truth is – when you do realize that all of the above are fundamentally unnecessary to living here and now, you are free here and now. Until then, a practical vision of a happy humanity is all but impossible.

So, how do we begin to unravel this mess? More importantly, what evidence is there that alternatives are possible? Yes, many people talk about achieving health and wealth, but we may think that they are charlatans or just lucky….Also, is pure wealth what anybody wants, or is it just a means to an end? Often we want or believe something, but stop short of understanding why.

I believe that the solution lies deeper than trying positive thinking and gimmicks to make a fast buck. We need a paradigm shift at a very fundamental level to dismantle the systems that have taken over our lives – and we have already outgrown them.

First and foremost, the people close to us have much power over our subconscious. Parents, partners, and close friends regularly catalyze us to accept beliefs without questions. We internalize who we think we are based on the reflections others project onto us because we trust the relationship, no matter how dysfunctional. Perhaps parenting, relationships, and frienship education should be freely available to all aiming to live sane lives.

Can we believe that getting our basic needs met is our birthright – especially with all the breakthroughs we have achieved to date? It’s not a stretch. We are not hunters and gatheres anymore – why do we think like them? Perhaps because our safety and survival is not a given – still. It is amazing that many people continue to resort to fear tactics and manipulation to block our transition into a safe world. Homelessness, hunger, and deep poverty are unnecessary. Economic status (to secure these basic human rights) is not sane. We are still so focused on survival, but – barring natural cataclysms – is it still necesary? And the organized bullies of the world – how are you still allowed to operate and commit atrocities with all our military might? At which point does a nation or religious group square away that it is the most worthy of the Divine, when we all come from the same source?

Can we believe that we should have more leisure time? Of course. The increase in automation has already made many jobs obsolete, and the trend will just continue. Of course Universal Basic Income is the next step – but how can we implement this without further becoming enslaved?

Can we accept that every life has intrinsic value? That’s tough when we are taught that everyone is expendable and replaceable. So, our value system has to grow up and mature. Not accepting that life is precious with opportunity to be free in wisdom may also be the reason we hate ourselves and dread our lives. Please don’t genetically engineer us! Go sell that someplace else – we are all stocked up here!

Can we believe that education can evolve into a new structure that supports unique gifts and nurtures inherent strengths? I have visions of how learning could be catalyzing to individuals, but this vision cannot be fulfilled by online learning alone. Social (face-to-face) contexts must continue for us to remain a society. However, it is no secret that Bill Gates and others want to see all education go online. No, we must continue to see and talk to people with the fundamental heartset that everyone has value. Teachers would not only engage the learning of ideas, but also guide social learning – so that we build a healthy view of fully individualized life and interactions. To be and work together, and to be fulfilled, many have to unlearn their knee-jerk reactivity that stems from the unexplored unconscious.

Can we learn that our bodies have the ability to restore health beyond pharmaceuticals? Most countries do, but these don’t have such an active pharma and processed food/drink/agricultural industry. In fact, when the US lands in developing countries, such as Mexico, they quickly degenerate in health and quality of life. And this fact is documented. Those who resist the KFC’s and Coca Cola‘s, for example, are threatened to fear for their lives.

Today, I watched a video on Prime called The Science of Fasting. Yesterday, I watched a TED talk on battling cancer with sound waves. However, such information is generally muted by the “ask your doctor” commercials about taking drugs.

In fact, we may need to learn more about how advertsing works to better understand the world and self views, which ads may promote. Many skillfully bypass our conscious processes and lodge directly in the unconscious.

It’s time we accept the truth that if something is possible and probable and serves those with influence, it is being done – even if it rejects basic sanity and care. It is very possible for food and drug companies to continuously sell to us and use powerful advertising techniques, which literally make us believe that they have our best interests while playing on our insecurities. In fact, disease is good for business! It is very possible and probable that these businesses do not value us at all and use us. Industries themselves have not yet matured to realize that they are useful only some of the time – but such a paradigm is not good for profits or power.

What we can do immediately is ask ourselves “What do I really believe?” and “Where does this belief come from?” It’s a start to becoming free of acceding to systemic influences. Maybe, like me, you’ll find that most of your beliefs have to go. When the cupboard is empty, please fill it with truth and self value….

Fighting the Self-Hatred Epidemic

***After I pulsed out the original version of this post, I got feedback. Thank you for the questions. It is important to get this right – I learn from you every day.***

There is an epidemic spreading and taking root in the West. It is subtle and nearly invisible in some cases, and more blatant in others. Most importantly, there is a cure, but this cure requires us to recognize the epidemic in the first place. If we are not afflicted, then we can try to help others as best we can.

When the New Age movement started, many fine authors talked about the importance of self-love. There was a stir in the Western world to become more gentle with oneself, to heal the inner child, and to learn to set boundaries with inappropriate behaviors and people. This was good. What is so important about self-love anyway, besides a better quality of life?

It turns out that self-love is not just an emotion or a feeling. Instead, it is an actual configuration of the physical and more subtle nervous systems to receive and be able to hold Spirit in form. Without self-love we literally reject uniting with Spirit and we block Its connection to, through, and as Us. Alternatively, even if we achieve Union, our nervous system can literally fry from this energy if it is unprepared to hold It. There are many pathways to Union with Spirit – there have to be – but the milestones of levels of freedom or degrees of Union appear to be similar. I am not just talking about Kundalini energy here – raising Kundalini energy is no guarantee of enlightenment.

Now the self-hatred epidemic is running rampant again. We had received doses of an antiobiotic, but then built immunity. There are forces at work in this world that have an interest in devolving the majority of the human race, and these forces have been working in new, different, and more conniving ways to manipulate people to accept self-hatred as the norm – and even believe that they feel self-love while engaging in self-loathing. This may not apply to you because you see through it, I understand, and yet there are many caught in this net at this time.

Who or what would wish to sabotage the human race in this way? Think about it…. An enlightened global community is very dangerous to those who believe the world population must be controlled – and enlightened beings are fundamentally free and happy (i.e., not controllable). The easiest way to keep developed populations down is by instilling hidden belief systems that one is fundamentally flawed and screwed up the core, unworthy, guilty, crazy, and just generally meaningless. There are entire theses in think tanks about how to manage world dynamics! Of course there are…. While people go about their daily lives, there are those who carefully deliberate how to generate stability and instability in various communities at various times to achieve control.

One would think that such a negative framework pervading social structures would drive mass majority to suicide, but that is not the case. Instead, it lulls the population into a kind of low- or mid-grade depression, inertia, and various autoimmune responses, OR the perversion of self-love as narcissism, racism, and other forms of “better-than-you”-isms. Both ends of the spectrum are breeding-grounds for separation at the Soul level, fueled by increased distractions that take one away from the simple core idea that one can achieve Union with Spirit and embody It uniquely with full consciousness of the Whole.

Thousands of years ago, yogis attained enlightenment in caves and on river edges, under trees and while sitting on wild grass. They discovered that the human nervous system was capable of a transformation that would ignite all form with Spirit to manifest a new kind of life that would emphasize our creative potential, making fear and the fight for survival obsolete. However, there are those who want to make enlightenment impossible for the human race by destabilizing the psyche, overwhelming people with work or the lack of work, monopolizing people’s attention with distractions, and ultimately damaging our nervous systems to make us permanently unable to feel the flow of Life. Yes, imagine that our nervous systems become so rigid to change and numbed by fear that we become trapped as fragmented consciousness in matter until the world simply winds down – which it will, some day. In other words, we will begin to forget more and more that we are fragments of One Spirit AND be completely convinced that we have achieved full potential at the same time! That is the worse case scenario – not knowing that we don’t know.

We must fight for our lives and sanity from a place of peace to be truly available to pure intention and attention, and resist the urge to fight from a place of anger and sadness. We must, once again, build reminders into our day to choose self-kindness and use these moments to invite Spirit in and embrace It. Once again, we must find good counselors to heal various traumas and let these go. When we are bombarded with messages to fear for our lives, we must flick a switch to choose relationship to every aspect of our lives, to forgive ourselves, and to let go into simple being. This is a moment-by-moment practice, relentless and filled with heart-felt yearning.

Another result of the lack of self-love is the desire to escape. The opiode epidemic is only one example. Besides drugs and alcohol, there are also emerging belief systems that we are shifting into a new Earth (and leaving the “unready” behind). But there is just this Earth – this one right now, and with this you and everything else on it. And if you think about it, is escaping and leaving others behind spiritual, even if it were possible?

The desire to escape suffering and pain is built into the manipulation and prepares masses to become lost in video games and, ultimately, “virtual fiction” reality – possibly removed many levels from this reality. We already see this behavior taking over many people because “it feels better than reality.” Sadly, this trend takes us deeper into the dark well of devolution. We must fight to feel the Sun on our faces, the grass and sand between our toes, and the touch of another’s hand in our hand to remain connected.

True freedom does not require any specific material or life conditions to be happy and awake. Life does not have to work out for you to become free and feel happy. How can it be freedom otherwise? It’s nice when things go well. But things don’t always go well. When stuff happens, does the enlightened state disappear or go on hold? No.

The yearning for enlightenment can die for us if we buy into unconscious self-rejection and escape. This would be tragic when we have the key to a revolution and an unhinged marriage of Spirit and Matter as individual expression. Enlightenment does not require props – only a consistent leap of faith that it is very possible for you, and the intense yearning to break through.

The great news is that the Light is always there and ready for you. It waits, poised for that instant when you accept yourself just long enough for It to get in and stay. You will literally feel a physical sensation of It pouring into the crown of your head and taking hold of the brain stem – and that is only the beginning. It has to stabilize.

There are endless opportunities all day long to yearn, release, and surrender to what lives you. Self-hatred and the Light are like oil and water, and the meditation must become a fight with the total fire of your will to burn through the thicket that falsely guards and separates you from the truth.

The new mantra is that “all the truth is within.” Sure, but we may not be able to understand it or even misinterpret it. Some say “we don’t need teachers – we can do it ourselves.” If it were that easy, we would have all done it by now and be living as a world community of free beings. But this is not the case, is it?

We have to be practical and streetsmart about spirituality for it to continue to be a force for good. For many, this means seeing through self-hatred, the desire to control and dominate, the need to be right, be powerful, be knowledgeable, be smarter, be “good-er.”

We are at a tipping point of falling into deeper illusion or waking up. There are enlightened beings. They just live – mostly incognito. Why are they still here, working hard amidst the dark tragedies, human hardships, and atrocities still going on? Why haven’t they just vanished into the rainbow of the “next level”? After they die, there will be others. But, at some point, the world may reject such beings altogether – it is not easy to be on the Earth plane in a free state, but this does not equate to suffering in human terms.

We can keep the candle of human potential burning by being practical and real with ourselves, questioning everything about our influences and our state, testing ourselves, and rejecting messages that we are flawed or better than others. This will be a fight that can only end in total transformation.

The test for enlightenment is simple – if you do not spend all of your time and during any activity feeling Life, being meditated by Life, and yearning for all to be free, then you are not yet enlightened. If you feel the need to defend or attack anything about yourself, you are not yet awake. If you take pride in what you are, you are not yet happy – because the little you is still there, needing a bigger I. If you need to escape – even as most cry out for help, you are not yet free – free beings tend Unity like a sacred garden. You can have “heaven” in any situation. If you are not living This, you are not yet free.

I often hear the question “Is enlightenment bullshit?” If the torch of true freedom is put out then yes, yes it is….

Living On “Single-Repeat”

You know that setting on a music player that repeats a song over and over? So much of our history – shaped by groups and individual lives – is on “single repeat.” Our instinct is to do what we know, what we have always done, what we have seen done, and what we were told to do. We are so caught up in repetition that we shut down the truly creative response that is needed from us moment to moment – that we are capable of.

I was talking to an artist today. His core belief is that the world is set up to “screw him over” no matter what he does. His other core belief is that he is “worthless.” I can see these beliefs in what he says and what he tries to hide. His subtle and overt agression masks his self-loathing. His silence, at times, masks his desire to cling to the deep-seated drama of how the world will  turned on him. His sarcasm is his way of attacking that which tries to show him that all his chains are self-crafted – and unnecessary. He clings and, at the same time, he fights.

I see people. First, the beauty and the truth of who they are, and then the chains, the anchors, and the inner demons. Most people live in bondage of perception. They believe something at their core about life, and then they see proof of this belief everywhere. Even if the perception is twisted, they don’t doubt that they live inside the illusion.

Of course, not everyone is ready to give up their core beliefs. The attachment is deeply entrenched and serves its purpose. Not all illusion is “bad” because it brings experience, even if it’s the same experience over and over. Some souls need this Life to be structured a certain way, and they derive joy from the structure – often even if the beliefs are self-negating. They don’t feel trapped and there is no problem – they describe the experience as being happy. Strangely, even unhappiness can be comfortable and comforting.

However, there are those who suffer because they feel the boundaries of their illusion. Although they are trapped, they are looking for a way out. They may not even care what lies beyond the illusion, but want to be free of it. These are tortured souls because they know they won’t find that feeling of “new” with their current awareness. 

This artist knows he is trapped, but he forgets. Over and over, life gives him opportunities to be aware in the moment, to treat each encounter as unique, and to be open and innocent to each exchange – the opposite of living out a predetermined “the world will just screw me over again and again and again…”. 

When he is reminded of what he is doing, he resists and deflects, at first. One can’t miss the internal battle of running on the tried and true circuit, and having to switch to the untried but true response. It is agonizing for him to surrender to truth in the midst of battle, and yet he tries. Over time it is taking him less and less time to see beyond his habitual perception. But he still forgets.

This is the dilemma of transformation in a nutshell – forgetfulness. This forgetfulness requires reminders, and mostly these cannot be “nice.” The Ego treats “nice” as a joke and works around gentleness in any number of ways. However, when facing a forceful confrontation and cornered after every possible deflection, it gives up and the true soul emerges (even if this is temporary). The Ego is extremely strong and entrenched – it will fight tooth and nail.

The artist keeps coming back. That is the key – persistence and a gradual letting go. There is trust that transformation can and will occur, despite numerous  challenges. You must keep coming back if you want to go all the way through the perception illusion tunnel.

Chogyam Trungpa spoke of the teacher as a skilled surgeon performing a painful operation. The art of confronting illusion is such an operation. But it is not for everyone because it is an irritant and a discomfort – who could withstand this long enough to transform? Not many, but more and more are starting to wonder.

Once the teacher is present, he or she will fight for you. When the operation starts, you will likely say at first that you changed your mind. However, you have already seen beyond the veil. And living with this without going all the way can be painful. So, you may take breaks, but you return for more. 

Of course, there are those who take the teachings and their incomplete transformation to the world to further reinforce their Ego. This has happened over and over, and incomplete understanding spreads. That is neither good not bad – it is just the way it is. At some point, people will realize they are stuck and go elsewhere.

This is the age of healers. Some people must be comforted and helped to live with the choices they make, and others must be helped to free themselves. Neither is better, it is just that the approach is different – and healers recognize and honor each other for their self-less service. After transformation, no gratitude or recognition is necessary anymore. Those healers who have crossed over know that taking money for helping ready souls transform creates karma. Only for this is there a restriction, otherwise money is neutral when handled properly as an energy exchange.

Movies and songs capture our culture quite well – and only the performers are different. They still show us why relationships do and do not work, teach us how to distract ourselves and forget, remind us how to reflect, and help us to escape from what is here and now. There truly is nothing new under the Sun, and it may not even feel new – unless you want to lift the veil from your eyes.

Ultimately, you make your choice how to live, and no one else. There are many options and all are being explored. But for those who are tired, disillusioned, even bored – ask yourself if you are ready to leave the illusion behind so much that you will muster up the strength for it. For it takes more courage and commitment than you have ever given. Your teacher will appear and stay if you are sincere, and you will evolve – and you will often ask yourself “have I had enough yet?” before the initial transformation is complete.