What have we learned so far?
1) We have a spirit, that lives to live; and an ego,that lives to win, succeed or find comfort.
2) Our suffering is created by our ego’s desires for comfort, and by its desire to avoid suffering.
3) Those desires drive the stories of our lifetime.
4) Our soul should stay present and witness the drama, as intended, we are here to create and experience a life.
And now 5) even when living out of states of ego, our soul needs to remain active and conscious so that it can keep our experiences in proper perspective.
Using the example from the previous chapter, if we lose our job our daily reality changes in a major way. And if our ego is no longer employed, that means we have failed to meet the tests of the framework we agreed to function within.
Despite our ego’s failure, in keeping with our nature, our indelible spirit will then shift off of its job of ‘staying employed,’ and on to a new challenge: ‘keeping the bills paid.’ Egos win and lose. Our soul just keeps on going.
Ego does circle back around to soul though. An intense desire for our ego –like needing money– usually involves finding new paths in life and, even if they’re only for creating income, they still help create a new life experiences, which keeps our spirit happy and growing.
While our spirit may be well, our ego doesn’t live in the moment, it lives in the past and future. If, in the externalized world of shared ideas, we learn our job has ended and we have lost in our efforts to remain in bill-paying shape, then our ego can suffer that loss as a very serious event that is entirely real to it and that should be taken seriously.
Even while those feelings are intensely ‘real’ to our ego, even while it is in the midst of its negative experience, it is possible for our larger spiritual self to see the admittedly ‘big’ and painful experience as but one way-station along a much larger journey through a lifetime. This is how we can end suffering by accepting there will always be suffering.
Can we see why viewing things from this larger, context-creating distance immediately creates calm without changing ‘reality?’ From a larger perspective, our negative reactions make perfect sense. But in understanding them we also come to realize how everything is temporary, and how, by knowing that, we can gain acceptance and change to more constructive states of mind quite quickly.
To live with this clarity, we must surrender the idea that we will control life or that we can get it to suit our plans. That can’t happen because our externalized reality is a shared reality. Rather than changing it, we should merely take that shared reality as our wave to surf on, and then learn to surf the reality that is present.
Only by accepting the totality of reality can we avoid floating aimlessly, going nowhere, while we idly complain about the conditions we exist in. In the end, what can always save us is our ability to stay present and fully aware. From that perspective we can often find the most graceful and unexpected routes through life’s troubled waters.
Sometimes our challenges will leave us looking heroic, other times the fool. But either way, our health becomes truly meaningful when we can remain conscious of the fact that both heroic and foolish states are merely dramas created through thought, for the pleasure of our soul –the ‘reader’ of our ego’s story. This being the case, let us make our stories interesting.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.