Question & Answer (2)

Is the ego a mistake?
No. Its biological function is survival. First of all, if we had no concept that trying to stroke a predatory animal could be dangerous, our species would have died out long time ago. Since the universe runs on a constant amount of energy, life necessarily needs to live on other life. Every organism has to die, otherwise there would not be “room” for new organisms. However, to be able to grow old enough to pass on its genes (and raise its next generation to maturity), every organism is endowed with a survival mechanism. The psychic tension that is created when we experience something which puts our organism at risk serves exactly this function. The ego’s job is to react to the tension and find ways to release it (e.g. by getting out of the danger zone, eliminating the danger, etc). It is an automated mechanism by which the organism learns to survive long enough to continue in the form of its progeny.
The existential problem starts when we are conditioned to experience irrational fears (e.g. the fear of death, the fear of minorities) and thus develop a rigid set of “right” vs. “wrong” concepts (e.g. laziness is bad, thin is beautiful). Every such dual/ polar concept is a seed for irrational psychic tension to arise when it is triggered by inner or outer circumstances. Usually in our over-civilized and over-conceptualized world, by the time we are into our 30ties, our ego is almost constantly “active” trying to find ways to deal with these accumulated, irrational fears and out-of-touch-with-reality concepts.

Am I a puppet of the universe or am I the master? Is there free will or not?
Both, the ideas of fatalism (puppet) and free will (master) are based on fear. The source of this fear lies in the notion of an independent agent, a separate “you”. But you are an inter-dependent agent. Look at the ocean. Does the ocean push the wave or the wave push the ocean? Neither/ nor because ocean and wave are one inseparable process, the same “thing”. So, the wave is neither the puppet nor the master of the ocean because it IS the ocean.
A fatalist person tends to feel like a victim, is amotivated and depressive. A mastery-type of person tends to live a life of struggle to one-up on himself and his environment. The person who transcends the notion of separateness, though, becomes autonomous, that is, free from the urge to hide from or dominate his life.

If I start to live by letting things happen, will I become passive?
No. As you are liberated from the urge to compulsively control and justify yourself, a lot of previously wasted life energy is freed up. However, what seemed important before (e.g. possessions, status, satisfaction of desires, etc.) may lose its appeal. So often, ambition, restraint or the need for gratification are not pursued for their own sake (that is, because one enjoys it) but have their source in a feeling of lack or fear. They are dysfunctional “survival” (ego!) strategies which weaken our organism as they suck out lots of life energy. When we make these strategies and their underlying beliefs conscious, see that they are socially conditioned and realize that they are self-defeating, we clear them from the organism.

What do you mean when you say “everything is One” or “non-dual”?
Very simplified, physics tells us that energy is vibration (a continuous interval of “on” and “off”) and that all matter is energy. So everything is vibration (think of Shiva’s dance!). What is suggested here is that fundamental to existence is a uni-form field of vibrations (the uni-verse). Reality as we know it manifests itself by certain vibrations of this field being picked up by our sense organs and processed by our brains (if our “receivers” were different it could be possible to see or hear radio-waves or x-rays, for example).
Given that our bodies, thoughts, feelings, etc. are also vibrations, we are basically vibration perceiving vibration. Or in “non-dual” lingo: We are all that IS, perceiving itself through itself.
It is important to realize that although absolute reality is “not-two”, for a reality to manifest there needs to be a relationship between two seemingly separate things: receiver and received; self and other. Maya, the illusion of duality, is a necessary mask of the universe to be able to discover itself. Duality is the stage from which to depart on this amazing adventure called life.

What do you mean when you say “there is no time”?
Time is the notion of a progressive series of events. But what if there was no such progression because all these events are not happening in a series of different moments but in the very same (endless) moment? The present moment is like a TV screen that can show millions of movies without fundamentally changing. It is forever still, the same, while at the same time it can forever host motion and alteration.

Is there cause and effect?
On a fundamental level, the answer is no. If there was cause and effect, there must have been a first cause that brought the universe into being (something like the “Big Bang”). But if that was so, what could have caused this first cause? There is no solution to this problem unless we assume that something can start out of nothing. So, there must have been something always. Hence, the fundamental reality, the uni-form field, is uncaused.
It is also forever unaffected, itself, because it is the only thing there is. Causes and effects refer to two different manifestations which are, however, in essence one and the same thing. So, fundamentally, causes are caused by themselves and effects affect themselves. While “things” happen, nothing really happens.

Is there death?
Since the separate self is an illusion, dying is an illusion.
What then is that which we call death? Let’s look at the ocean-wave example. A wave is defined as a form consisting of a trough, a crest and another trough. It is a certain configuration of the ocean. Now, the only constant in the ocean is continuous change of configuration (because the universe is a vibratory thing). So, we could say that the ocean is constantly wave-ing.
Similarly, we could say that the universe is constantly materialize-ing, gas-ing, light-ing, heat-ing, liquidize-ing and therefore flower-ing, animal-ing, people-ing, etc. All these forms in the universe are void of inherent, that is, independent existence just as a wave is not inherently different from the ocean. What we call death is simply the transition of one form of “spirit” (or energy/ vibration) into another. And because this fundamental essence of being never depletes, the universe will not disappear either. It will just keep changing its configuration. Forever, and ever and ever.

What changes when we embrace change?
When we don’t, we are involved, that is, we struggle in vain to always stay on the sunny side of life. E.g. we spiritual seekers try to stay in a happy, aware, meditative mood always, although that’s impossible. We want just the “good” without the “bad”. This is Samsara.
When we lose the fear of change, that is, when we do not object to it, though, we transcend Samsara, because we are not involved anymore. With non-involvement I mean that there is no more struggle, no more “self” (ego).
So, in a way nothing changes: changes still happen. After the sun comes the rain. But in another way everything changes because we are at peace, in non-objection to whatever is (ourselves!). And this peace, this not wavering, is the anchor to the “now”.

End of Part 2

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7 Comments on “Question & Answer (2)”

  1. Awake in 365 Days says:

    Thank you for posting these questions and answers, its very helpful.

    I’ve been struggling with the concept of ego – you say it is an ‘automated mechanism’, which is what I had started to imagine it really was, that it was more of a process than an entity, not some sort of a gremlin like thing with a ‘mind’ of its own like I had always thought it to be. Is this along the same lines as what you are saying?

    What you wrote about Free Will is the most balanced I’ve come across. The idea of not having any free will has never jived for me, nor the idea of having complete free will, but just being free from hiding or dominating, it is more like we are cooperating with existence.

    I was meditating on death today, I’ve been doing that a lot lately, that’s just how I entertain myself πŸ™‚ anyway, this image came to me: I had a vision of a string of Christmas lights, we (our selves/bodies) are all on the same string (One Life/Self/Essence – what have you), I imagined that death is similar to when our light bulb (body) on the string goes out (dies), you are still part of the one string/life, but (you) your bulb is out (dead), so you are no longer shining through that form, but You (spirit/essence) are still part of that same string/stream of energy, you’re just not an individual bulb (body) anymore. My puzzling is: Do “I” maintain my memory of being a bulb when my light goes out? Now, is my question, an ego question? A need to hang onto that individual sense of “I” as a separate self?

    I am interested in what you have to say…thanks again for the posts. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for commenting!

      Yes, I see the “ego” as a function, a process of (what the universe is doing as) us. It is triggered by either primal fears (=> fight or flight response) or irrational/ socially conditioned fears (=> physical/ verbal violence, one-upmanship, self-justification, etc.).

      The question of free will/ fatalism is indeed a very, very tricky one. I don’t have an answer to the question: “did I move my hand just now or was it something/ somebody else that made me do it?” But I know that I am not separate from whatever else could have moved this hand, so the question does not make sense anymore. Whatever moves my hand is myself in any case. Any notion of free will or fatalism is intimately related to the notion of a separate “I”.

      I like your vision. Most of my insights came from images like that. I think all spiritual teachings are trying to convey “images” that when “seen” render important insight about our existence.
      Since I haven’t died yet, I don’t know the definitive answer to your questions. I can tell you what I personally think, though. If we suppose that there are serial lives, wouldn’t the fact that we do not have any congruent memories of past lives tell us that memory will be erased when the body dies? Which, I think, is a marvelous thing. Suppose you die with all sorts of concepts of good/ bad, shame, guilt, etc. Wouldn’t you want this to be erased? Wouldn’t it be much cooler to start all over with fresh eyes, as an innocent baby? New adventure, here I come again! Where would novelty, creativity, suprise etc come from if we never lost our memories? If we had a series of lives, for the sake of this amazing place we live in, I’d hope our memories will never survive us! πŸ˜‰
      But we don’t even need to go into such lenghty speculations to make peace with death. If (the separate) “I” am (is) fundamentally what the one thing, the universe, is doing here and now, then even if “I” die, “I” fundamentally don’t. Life and death are only superficially different things. The problem is, though, that we can only perceive superficially. The Absolute viewpoint is only ever implied from the relative.
      My vision of my fundamental Self, the universe, is an endless, seamless field of energy that has an infinite potential to assume any form it ever and forever wants. Or in your words, like an endless sea of light bulbs going on and off, thus forever changing its pattern. It keeps going without going anywhere.

      Hope that makes sense!

      Best,
      Daniel

      • Awake in 365 Days says:

        Hello Daniel, thanks for the answers to my questions. This letting go of ego as a gremlin or an entity or thing, has been hugely liberating for me. I mean really, who wants to be faced with fighting gremlins all day? To acknowledge the ego as a process triggered by all these fear based self preservation tactics lessens the fear around the ego itself and allows for more opportunities of transcendence.

        Free will is a tricky one – what you said ‘Any notion of free will or fatalism is intimately related to the notion of a separate β€œI”.’ sums it up nicely.

        Thanks – re your comments about my vision of the Christmas lights. It was nice to get a vision that helped me to understand something that I was reflecting on. Very cool to experience that, I did ask the universe for fresh ideas this weekend. I guess it/I was listening. πŸ™‚

        I too, would not want to keep my memories at death, I’d want to start a new adventure that is for sure! And yes, this does all make wonderful sense!

        Thanks,

        Erin

      • Yes, the ego is fear in action. Only love will “kill” it πŸ˜‰

  2. […] way, I guess this is a kind of response to the wisdom that Daniel (author of the fantastic blog Truthless Truth) shared with me in my post on mindlessness. Β It is only through accepting our separation with […]

  3. Manish says:

    Thank you for an excellent blog on ego and spiritual-quantum-mechanical concepts. Really enjoyed reading it. Ego is a fascinating topic of discussion and your very first line of its biological function is survival is spot-on correct, in my opinion also. Concepts are subjective but its an intense topic of debate on what can be regarded as concepts and what cannot. One thing however which is well known and scientifically proven is energy cannot be created nor destroyed it just transforms from one form to another…this actual ‘fact’ can be considered as an evidence of us (i.e. our real self what defines us separate from our body) living beyond this plane of existence. This of course is comparable to what you said about non-duality. What you wrote is a good comprehensive Covering fairly in-depth information on non-duality. Thanks.


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