Whose Reality?

Whose Reality?

“Those who play at being angels, end up as animals.”
— Blaise Pascal, The Ascent to Truth

I ran into this quote recently while reading Mariana Caplan’s book Halfway Up The Mountain. It rather succinctly spoke to the hazards of not living a human life most of the time.

The context of the quote was the various hazards of mystical experiences. Such experiences are largely in the category of subtle perception. Lovely, but not really “spiritual” at all. Plus, all too often, the motivation for chasing them is personal gratification or escaping our human experience rather than gaining skills to live it more enjoyably.

It’s also worth noting that a healthy ego is an Advantage on the spiritual path. It gives us a stable ground for the shift to grow into. If we have a poor sense of self, we’re much more easily caught by these hazards.

These include:
– getting caught up in the astral or fancy experiences to such a degree we lose touch with who we are and create an addiction, possibly even a “spiritual emergency” or crisis.

– Spiritual materialism, where we attach ourselves to the path as an accomplishment or possession. This also relates to the spiritualized ego that uses memories of experiences to inflate itself. Or getting identified with experiences as an accomplishment, even though we had nothing to do with creating them.

– getting stuck in the cul-de-sac of experiences. Chasing experiences for their own sake. Or having an experience, thinking this is it and endlessly seeking ways to get it back. Not admitting when an experience has faded. Drug tourism is another manifestation of this.

– the ego co-opting the experience to consider itself “spiritually advanced” or even “enlightened” (hence the books title) Ego claims all experience as its own, so we have to be alert to that. Mind gives us the ability to put it into words but ego tries to make it “mine”. Specialness, overestimation, pride, superiority, vanity, aloofness, being different – there are many masks to ego inflation. Mariana mentions several seeds – eagerness to share, identifying with the experience as “mine”, influxes of energy, and insecurity. The antidote is of course deflation.

– The Inner Guru is something real, but it comes from the resolute intellect and clear awareness, usually around Unity stage. It is the Self Itself. It is not from the ego, mind, or astral. It is not some being telling you what to do. But just the idea of it is the perfect ground for the ego to make itself special. Follow the heart, life is a teacher, it’s all an illusion – all great ideas for the ego to run with. Confirmation Bias will make sure we self-verify this new “reality”.

You may see why an understanding of the process and potential pitfalls is helpful. It won’t stop us from falling into some of these traps but it will aid us in getting back out quickly rather than becoming mired in our own delusions. The ego has many years of ensuring its survival. It is very skilled, its stories complex and multi-layered.

I recall when I realized my ego was using memories of experiences to pretend to be the Self, then it would create conflict and drama with itself to distract me from seeing through it. Ego inherently knew that if a I saw through the ruse, its number would be up, its power and control lost.

This is seen as deeply dangerous to the ego. It can view our very survival to be at stake. The key is you cannot overcome the ego yourself. Because the ego cannot overcome itself. Have you ever seen a wrestler pin himself? Ego is happy to create a great battle if you entertain that though.

Happily, none of that is necessary. You don’t wake up. You wake up From yourself. Awareness becomes clear enough to recognize itself, here in this person. Then everything is seen through and awakening occurs. It is not something we do. Rather it is allowed.

Ego will attempt to restore control after, but with awareness established it is just winding down the remaining “shrapnel” from the shattered ego identification.

It’s also important to understand that we stay human and thus can get stuck or caught at any level. Teaching is one of the most challenging as it is bound to bring up any thread of remaining contraction.

I would add not to be disappointed if you’re not having fancy experiences. You have one less thing to get past. But you still won’t be immune to ego control. That is one joy of being human.  🙂

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  1. Amaryllis

    Hi David, could you please explain a little more about this:

    “…there are many masks to ego inflation. Mariana mentions several seeds … influxes of energy…”

    I am not clear on how influxes of energy fall into this category, given that they arise on their own …

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Amaryllis
      Influxes of energy on their own don’t inflate the ego but an energy surge can be claimed by the ego as a “sign”, the energy used to support it’s agenda, and so forth.

      Eagerness to share is innocent in itself also. But it can easily lead to self-importance if the ego co-opts it.

      The ego very simply co-opts everything it can to bolster itself, especially around spiritual development. That’s part of what makes waking up tricky.

  2. Carl Smuda

    As a teenager in South Bend I got in with a crowd of Maharaj Ji premies who spoke often that the mind is our enemy. Boy was that weird to process as a teenager. And they messed up my TM program too. 🙂 I had forgotten about how they taught ‘mind is the enemy’ until I came across Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now. His ‘pain body’ reminded me of those Premies long ago. This post is great teaching for me that I take knowledge from. Thank you Davidya. You’re the best. Sincerely,

  3. Share

    I was thinking how the title of Mariana’s book itself is a reminder of how patriarchy has dominated even spirituality. The hyper masculine almost always thinks in terms of moving up, etc. Whereas, feminine spirituality recognizes that realization also includes unfolding on the horizontal axis. Unfolding of fuller and fuller totalities.

    1. Hi Share
      Yes, a lot of people see the process as a race, something for the me to accomplish, etc. That indeed comes out of a masculinized culture.

      However, I’d not suggest we adopt old matriarchal ways either. That’s just going to the opposite. Better we move to a balance of both.

      I’m not sure I’d describe the feminine as just the horizontal. It’s more the masculine gives us the container and the feminine brings the content.

      The masculine is the experiencer but has nothing to experience without the feminine. It is through the feminine that the masculine knows itself. And ditto for the feminine.

    1. When you get subtle enough, the masc/fem duality is more interchangable as there isn’t much difference.

      If you think in terms of consciousness as masculine/ Shiva, it’s the container. But from another perspective, it is Divine Mother that gives rise to creation, so feminine.

      Ultimately, there is an apparent container and the blend of awareness and liveliness gives rise to all form and phenomena.

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