Tag Archives: Reality Spacesuit

The Ego: Shame, Rinse, Repeat

I think of the ego as a special program that runs in the physical mind of the “reality spacesuit” our true self wears in order to live and make its way within material reality. This reality space suit consists of both the physical body and mind. This physical mind thinks for itself (analogous to a computer) independent of the true self. Unless practiced, the true self has difficulty distinguishing between its own thoughts and the thoughts of the physical mind. The ego (as I said) is a special program running in the computer-like physical mind and was originally a tool designed for self-protection. Unfortunately, like HAL in Clarke’s / Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ego became a tool that superseded its usefulness.

There is a point in childhood when a person abandons his true self ceding control of the physical mind to the ego. The child does this strategizing that the ego will provide greater protection from the aggressive forces of physical reality. At some point the young adult realizes that the protection the ego offered was illusory or came with too high a price. Much of adult life then becomes an effort to reclaiming his true self back from the ego (perhaps analogous to the astronaut Dave shutting down HAL in 2001). This process always begins with the realization of the ego’s true nature. Along with this realization comes the awareness of how deceptive the ego can be, how it operates through shame (and pride), and how ultimately self-defeating its methods truly are. The most important realization in this process is that the ego’s thought are not the true self’s thoughts.

One stumbling block standing in the way of this realization is loyalty. Because the ego dominated / shame based mind feels the need to remain loyal to the forces that keep it imprisoned it takes a supreme amount of effort for it to cast this loyalty aside. To do so feels immoral, irresponsible, undisciplined, selfish and brings about more shame. This usually works to create and repeat a cycle of lashing out and then feeling remorseful. Within this cycle the physical mind does not progress past its egoic confines. The cycle itself is the prison the ego creates for the true self and is the mechanism by which the ego maintains control. This is not to say that loyalty is a bad quality, indeed I believe it is good. However, the ego uses loyalty as a means of control and manipulation of its host mind.

Finally, the ego is self replicating. It performs this function through shame. By being shamed, a person feels the need to protect himself and thus creates his own ego (or perhaps cedes control of his physical mind to the ego). Then, having been shamed himself, the ego convinces him that the only way to feel better about himself is to seek out other people to shame. Once he does this new egos are then spawned in the shaming victims’ physical minds and the process repeats itself over and over.

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My thoughts are not your thoughts

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.


As the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways
 and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

In a similar way that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, the thoughts of my true self are not the thoughts of my ego. When I meditate this becomes more apparent. As I mentioned in a previous post I think of my true self inhabiting this reality by wearing “reality spacesuit” which consist of both my body and my mind. I think of the mind as a computer built into the spacesuit itself. The spacesuit’s mind is my ego. Because my spacesuit has a mind, it thinks for itself. When I am not aware, I mistake these thoughts of the spacesuit with myself. But really, its thoughts are not my thoughts.

When I meditate I can observe the spacesuit’s thoughts in action. With practice, over time, I begin to see this distinction in my every day life. Without practice I cannot distinguish between myself and the thoughts of my spacesuit. This realization carries with it two conclusions. First, the “I as observer” is different from the thoughts I observe. Second, if I must wear this spacesuit to inhabit this reality, then this suggests I am not indigenous to this reality (otherwise I would be able to naturally inhabit this reality).

I suppose my true home is heaven. For some reason I have forgotten what heaven is really like and I do not know the reason why I have forgotten this information.

My ego (the mind of the spacesuit) is bound up with my reality spacesuit. It identifies with the spacesuit. My ego wants my true self to remain asleep so that there exists the belief that the reality spacesuit is the real self and this reality is all there is. As such, my ego is inherently dishonest and perpetuates falsehoods constantly.

By contrast my true self is inherently honest but has a tendency to fall asleep within the reality spacesuit. Perhaps inhabiting the spacesuit is taxing to it because this reality is not the reality it was designed to inhabit. Regardless, meditation seems to be a way to wake my true self up and keep it awake. Regular and continuous meditation develops this muscle of staying awake. The stronger the muscle the better able the true self can maintain awareness.

But then again, this is all speculation. I do not know for certain that any of this is an accurate depiction of the underpinnings of my experience in this world. Parts of it seem to make sense at times. Meditation, however, does not go down the road of speculation. It abides simply and clearly in the present moment. It observes. That is all it does. There is a beauty in this simplicity.

Where did I come from? What was it like there? Why am I here? As for these ultimate questions, it seems that I can never know the answers while I inhabit this reality. Again, I can speculate but speculations without confirmation seems to be of limited value.

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The Point of Meditation

In every group meditation instructional session I have ever attended someone will inevitably ask the question, “What is the point of meditation?” The instructors I have observed are usually reluctant to answer this question. Clearly meditation is practiced for a reason but the relation between the practice of meditation and the reason it is performed is subtle and not easily articulated to someone who is new to meditation. The instructors usually fumble a little and say something along the lines of meditation will make one calmer, or more peaceful or will make one better able to handle stress in everyday life. There seems to be a tendency to shy away from assigning a goal to meditation because goals are not rooted in the present moment.

Personally, I find meditation to be relaxing and a sort of mental reset. If I am stressed or angry, if I can find a place of meditation I do become relaxed and calm. However, I see this more as a by-product of meditation rather than its primary purpose.

The “Transcendental Meditation” advertizing describes their method as “effortless.” I do not know if this is true because I am unwilling to pay $2,000 to learn their method. To me, meditation takes some effort because it is a mental and spiritual exercise in that it strengthens these aspects of the self. It takes effort to be aware that the mind is wandering and then to return it to center. This is not the same kind of effort as lifting weights or running a marathon but it is an effort and making the effort strengthens these “muscles.”

I have heard some meditation techniques describe meditation as observing the thoughts. If a thought appears (they say) don’t engage it but simply observe it go by. This is difficult for me because I often find myself getting lost in the thoughts I am trying to observe and then I have to pull myself out of them when I become aware that I am lost.

Other techniques (I believe TM is one) talk about repeating a mantra or focusing on breathing to anchor awareness in the present moment. Similarly, when I employ this technique I find myself becoming lost in the mantra or the breath. When I am lost in any of these objects of concentration I become that object of concentration.

However, when I am able to observe a thought I realize that I as observer am not the same thing as the thought I observe. It is like I inhabit a “reality spacesuit” that allows me to function in reality the same way a spacesuit allows an astronaut to function in space. This “reality spacesuit” consists of both my body and my mind. Because the spacesuit has a mind, the spacesuit thinks for itself. In everyday life I make no distinction between the thoughts of the spacesuit and my own identity. When I meditate I become aware of this distinction and in a sense I come home to my true self. This (I think) more than relaxation is more to the point of meditation.

 

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