I would like to complete this book with a brief discussion concerning some of the inner conflicts which develop as one follows any system of self improvement or spiritual discipline. It is not absolutely necessary for such conflicts to arise, but in 98% of the cases they do. In some they manifest as subtle inner tensions, but in others as deep rooted inner conflicts which lead to self rejection, unhappiness and a resulting lack of stability on the path.
THE SPIRITUAL EGO AND THE MATERIAL EGO
Let us divide our ego structure for the purposes of this discussion into the part which wants to improve our character and life style and proceed spiritually and the other part which wants to remain in the familiar and conditioned types of behavior and activities where it finds security, pleasure and affirmation. Let’s call the first part the spiritual ego and the second the material ego. In the end we want these two to meet, to open up to each other and become one. We do not intend to imply that the spiritual ego is higher or more spiritual than the material ego. In some cases the opposite may be true, as the spiritual ego might be simply seeking security, pleasure and affirmation in other ways. The spiritual ego may occasionally be even more afraid or more attached to persons and situations than the material ego. This is not always the case, however.
SOME SAMPLE CONFLICTS
Let us look at some examples of the inner conflicts which we may experience as a result of our desire to improve ourselves and grow spiritually.
1. We may have a desire for various objects or situations as a source of pleasure. Another part of ourselves may feel, however, that this is a sin, or that we are not spiritual if we partake in such pleasures. Or it may feel that this type of pleasure seeking is a waste of time and energy considering our spiritual goals. Thus these two aspects of our own being conflict.
2. One part of ourselves may feel the need to have an exclusive relationship, in which our happiness and security depend on another person (usually a mate). Another part of ourselves may find this an obstacle towards its need for independence, self dependence, and freedom to move along the spiritual path without obstacles.
3. Similarly there may be a conflict between the need for personal love and the need to develop universal love.
4. The need to forgive and the need to hold on to negative feelings towards someone.
5. The need to employ various disciplines and the need to feel free to do what we want when we want to.
6. The need to follow our inner voice and the need to be like the others and be accepted by them.
7. The need to express our feelings as they are, and the need not to hurt anyone.
8. The need to express our real feelings and thoughts and the need to have the acceptance of those around us.
9. The need to follow a spiritual guide and the need to rebel against all types of advice or control.
10. The need to control persons and situations in order to feel secure and the need to let things flow and allow others to act freely.
11. The need to never show weakness and the need to share our weakness with others.
12. The need not to ask anything from others and the need to have their help and support.
13. The need for a stable routine for our balance and growth and the need for variety and change.
14. The need to play familiar emotional games in our relationships and the need to get free from them.
15. The need to face and overcome our fears and blockages and the need to avoid them and hide them.
There are many more conflicts which we haven’t mentioned, but most will fall into these categories.
WHAT FORM DO THESE CONFLICTS TAKE
As we mentioned previously, these conflicts will manifest to varying degrees and in a variety of ways. But most have a common theme. The spiritual ego feels the conflict most intensely (if we didn’t desire spiritual growth we would not have a conflict) and usually creates feelings of self rejection, failure and guilt, when we are unable to satisfy its requirements for it to feel that it is spiritual and it is worthy. If we do not feel that we are worthy, then we do not feel safe. We are programmed that whoever is not “good” or worthy in God’s eyes is not safe, as he does not “deserve” God’s protection. These are not good reasons, however, to want to change something in ourselves. These are not spiritual motives. If we want to change because then we will be safe, or others will accept us, we are simply replacing the material ego with the spiritual ego. Nothing has really changed. In some cases our need to fulfill these spiritual “requirements” for our self acceptance has more to do with our need to feel that we are more spiritual than the others. Thus we simply replace the need for affirmation and superiority on a material level with the same need on the spiritual level. It is important to realize that our spiritual value is permanent and divine. We cannot be worth more or less in God’s eyes. We are divine consciousness in the process of evolving its ability to express its divinity on the material planes. Our inherent spiritual value is not changed by our actions or spiritual growth. What is changed is our ability to express that value mentally, emotionally and physically. Trying to be a better person because we believe that God will love us more is not the best motive for growth. Desiring to become a clearer channel for God’s plan because we love God and all of His creation is a better motive. Seeking to purify ourselves so that we can experience that Divine Consciousness in every being and event that we encounter, is a useful motive. Seeking to remove all mental, emotional and physical obstacles so that we can merge into a continual awareness of the Divine and achieve total enlightenment, is also a useful motive. These motives are free from the game of who is spiritual and who is not, or who is more spiritual, or who is good and who is bad, and whom God loves and whom God does not love. They are based on the presumption that God is a much higher type of consciousness, and thus is incapable of not loving anyone, no matter what he ever may do. This seems only logical since God, himself, has asked us, mere humans, to love even our enemies and those who ignore and harm us. Is it possible then that He himself is incapable of doing this? This type of thinking also removes us from the game of spiritual pride in which we feel that we are higher, more important, more favored by God than others. It also removes us from feeling that we are lower, less important or less favored by God than others. The material ego, on the other hand, in such situations tends to react to the rejection and pressure it receives from the spiritual ego by rebelling and sabotaging the various efforts towards discipline and self control. Thus, the more we press ourselves, the more our material ego reacts and rebels. In such cases we experience instability in our spiritual efforts. We are usually, in these cases, playing the roles of parent and child with our own selves. The parent rejects the child for not being a “good child” and the child then reacts so as to undermine the parents’ effort towards control. In order to move more effectively towards our goal of spiritual transformation, these inner conflicts will have to be dealt with in a more mature manner. Rather than communicating within ourselves as child and parent, it would be more useful to develop a mature adult to adult type of conversation or dialogue.
UNDERSTANDING OUR CONFLICTING SELVES
The following technique is best done under the guidance of a person experienced in facilitating such dialogues with one’s self. In the case that one cannot find such a facilitator, you can do this exercise in written form. Our purpose is to allow these two parts of our selves to have a chance to reflect on what they really want, need, and desire and express all of this to the other part. It is best for one to begin with a written analysis. Here are some questions which may help you. Take for example the Spiritual Ego:
1. What does it feel when it is unable to achieve or maintain a spiritual goal?
2. In which particular situations does it feel that? Give some examples.
3. What does it believe about those situation,s and particularly about himself, which causes him to have the feelings which he mentioned in answer to question 1.
4. Why does he believe those beliefs. Upon what basic beliefs are they founded?
5. What are his needs and desires?
6. What specifically does he ask from the Material ego?
7. What can he do in order to have a better relationship with his material ego and, thus, proceed with greater unity and stability?
And we can ask the Material Ego:
1. What does it need and desire in order to feel secure, happy and worthy? Let it make a list of what it needs (objects, persons, situations, behaviors from himself and others etc.).
2. Why does it believe that it needs each thing on the list made in answer to question 1? Let him answer in regard to each what it believes will happen if it is not able to fulfill one of those needs or desires.
3. What are the basic beliefs which underlay its dependency on these specific needs and desires?
4. What specifically does it ask from the spiritual ego in order to feel more unity with it, to establish greater cooperation between them and greater happiness for both?
5. What can the material ego do in order to create greater unity and harmony, since they both live in the same body and mind, and must share it?
Answer these questions as well as you can, giving sufficient time and thought in order to go deeply.
As mentioned earlier this dialogue can be done verbally in the presence of an experienced guide or on paper, something like a scene in which two previously conflicting parties try to communicate more openly and honestly. In the case that we do it verbally, we will have two chairs or pillows placed opposite each other. We will sit on the one chair and assume one of our two roles. We will imagine that the other part of ourselves is sitting in the opposite chair or on the opposite pillow. We will start the conversation explaining to the other part of ourselves how we feel, what our needs and desires are, and what our beliefs are which make us feel the way we do. Then sitting in the other chair, we will then give the opposite side of ourselves the opportunity to speak about itself, how it feels and what it needs. These two parts will speak back and forth as we get up and change positions whenever we change roles (it is important to change positions in order to help change mind – set and psychology). This conversation goes on like any other conversation, as we ask questions and change positions to answer them. We may accuse, we may express feelings of tenderness and love. We may plead and ask for help. We may ask deeper questions which help the one part of ourselves understand the other part more deeply and clearly. This conversation goes on until we have sat in both positions and have nothing to say from either point of view. This is important, because we may not have anything more to say from the one side, but then sit on the other side and ask a question, which may open up a discussion, which might last another half an hour with many changes in position. Throughout this process we do not speak at all to our guide. He is there only to facilitate in the case that we get blocked or off the track. Once we have completed this dialogue, we then take a position between our two previous sitting positions and imagine that we are our higher self, or that we are an enlightened spiritual guide, and we give some advice to each part of ourselves, explaining to each what it needs to do in order to have greater harmony with the other and to proceed more effectively, and with less conflict, along the path of spiritual growth or self improvement. Whether you perform this exercise verbally or in written form, I am sure that you will find it very useful in resolving such conflicts which are often obstacles in our progress.
I want to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude towards the technique called meditation and towards all of those who played a role in introducing and enhancing that technique in my life. It has literally saved me from much unhappiness and has helped me to bring forth beautiful parts of myself which otherwise would still be buried today. The only way in which I can imagine repaying for what I have received is to offer it to others by sharing with you my experience and, to encourage you to employ this unique technique of coming into contact with your inner self, and thus, with whatever is most beautiful and wonderful within you and bringing it out into your daily life to share it with others. I wish you every success in this endeavor and remind you that it requires daily practice and that it is the highest way in which you can manifest the purpose of your life which is to manifest your latent divine potential here on the earth plane.
I express to you my love and my wishes
for a happy,
life of evolution
and service to mankind.