An interesting discussion in another forum brought together some points discussed here before.
I’ve talked about the 3-layer nature of the ego: the mental concept of a me, the emotional/energetic drivers of that, and the core subconscious identity. That core is fear-driven and arises when we lose our sense of connection to divine wholeness.
This fear in turn leads to layers of resistance to life. The seeming loss of safety, control and approval are common drivers. These create barriers to ourselves, causing us problems and suffering.
On the surface, we have the conceptual ideas about self like “I am this” and “I am not that.” Of course, the troubles arise when we make what we aren’t wrong and judge others accordingly. More subtle energetically we have feelings of “I don’t want to” or “I won’t.” While a healthy No is a very good thing, this can be a way of feeding our barriers. Deeper still, we have identity-based senses of “must” and “should.” These are usually sub-conscious drivers of how we act based on our sense of self. They can often in get in the way of being who we are or why we’re here. And under that, the sub-conscious sense of “me-ness” that we take as reality. This is subtle and belief-like but sub-conscious so it’s difficult to recognize directly. We can recognize it more by our most intractable challenges and the need for things like safety and control.
“Me-ness” is not stories like “I am fat” or “I am smart”. Those are conceptual “I am this” messages we tell ourselves. But those may be driven by the deeper “Me-ness” sense making them much more persistent. For example, we find it difficult to eat in a healthy way that will retain an appropriate body size because we fear for the safety of our illusory self or fear the exposure of repressed emotions. We then dull the feelings with physical overload or wrong food. This dynamic is obscured by the “I am this” story of why we behave this way and it’s self put-downs. Plus the ego uses emotional drama to distract from how you’re actually feeling. Thus, body, mind and emotions are all distractions from how we are. Ironically, our apparent lack of self-control is driven by ego control.
A key aspect of “Me-ness” is the sense of being special or unique. This is directly associated with the early sense of “mine”, only in relationship to the me. My talents, my name, my rights, my intelligence, and so forth. It can also relate to deficiencies like “not enough” or “weak” that are layered on later.
This is not to say Mr. Rogers is wrong. It’s healthy for young children to differentiate themselves and see their uniqueness. But this may become distorted by the ego later in life.
It’s worth noting that we can be proud of our specialness but we also fear it. We fear it because it is created by fear. As a result, we fear it being seen and our identity exposed as a lie. Thus, we fear success as our specialness may be exposed as false.
Curiously, it’s all a big boogie man without substance. The fear of being seen is greater than what we’re trying to avoid.
To understand “Me-ness” better, lets explore more examples. We all have gifts or abilities. But if we frame them as my abilities for me, we fail to understand our purpose. As we explored in Sacred Gifts, our gifts are for others. It is when we find how to use our gifts to support others that we’re living on purpose.
Human rights is another good example. If we see them as my rights rather than our rights, we’ll fail to uphold others rights and lose our own in the process. This includes things like property rights. Individual property rights cannot be upheld where there are masses of homeless people. It’s unsustainable. Rights only work from relative equality, from shared rights.
Entitlement is another. We live in a culture where advertising is constantly reinforcing the idea we deserve things. One of the results is widespread unsustainable debt, both by individuals and governments. But eventually, that debt comes due. We cannot accomplish anything by expectation; of employers, government, relationship, or the divine. The field of action and energy don’t work that way. Things are created with energy, with action. Action increases your deserving power as one teacher put it.
It’s not what we have, it’s what we give that counts. There are no separate individuals here.