Category Archives: Homework

Ego, no ego?

Speaking on the phone to C. the other day, the conversation was around the subject of “ego” and where and if and when it might go.

C., you offered the perspective that the ego dissolves completely and finally upon the death of the corporal body. This of course touches into our earlier conversations surrounding subject of consciousness, identity, and its relationship to the gross realm.

I did further pick up this conversation today with Russ and found our passage a little delightful.

The inquiry was for me, “initially”, around whether in the human development experience there was a fulcrum, possibly in the line of state development (gross, subtle, causal, Turiya, and non-dual) whereby the entirety of the prior experience of the individual was deemed to be in some sense, illusory, or a dream and the experience after the fulcrum was in contrast “awakened” or, “enlightened”. It seemed to me, that having a relationship to such a potentially profound point in an individual’s development would be quite relevant to an interest in “the developing human”.

I seem to be familiar with, or to understand at least to some degree the phenomenon of development along a variety of lines as identified, and studied within the human organism. It felt relevant to me to inquire into the nature of that understanding, what is its ground, and in what manner and circumstance might be entirely subsumed. Further, I’m familiar with so-called “peak experiences” wherein an individual might experience a kind of satori or “awakening” that would last for some time, leaving the individual “changed” in its wake, I mention this, also in contrast to the kind of “fulcrum” I described above.

Russell was describing to me something he had recently heard a Zen teacher described about having entered a time of “no ego” that seemed to last for a while before the teacher ultimately decided to let it go in favor of a new “ego without ego” state. This reminded me of a recent description I heard of a Taoist identification of something called “way no way”.

In considering this, I began to wonder about the nature of action, and action as inquiry, and inquiry as action. If we moved to act, or to inquire, we may well discover that it is relevant to the action, or inquiry to understand its various basis. What precisely is it? What conditions must be met for its life to be fruitful? Where and in what context is it to occur? What are the rules and boundaries governing its existence? Why would I undertake such a thing? Should I undertake such a thing? And finally and possibly most miserably, and maybe most ecstatically, what or who is this I that proposes this in the first place?

Discovering this connection between action, or being, or Eros, and the ego whose nature seems for the time, to elude me I recognize that from this perspective the basis for any action or inquiry I might undertake also fundamentally eludes me.

Logically (to which my devotion is shaky at best) I must conclude that my choices in action are either:

  1. wait before taking any initiative of any kind to find myself in a full understanding, a full embrace and integrally complete (agape) of the ego, whereby the basis of any initiatives can be fully held. Or,
  2. act in unconsciousness, or ignorance of the basis of any initiative I undertake.
  1. To me, the first feels quite noble, to participate in unfolding only from a place of supreme enlightenment. The second on the other hand almost sinister, misguided, or at best, ignorant.

I thought at this point my work was clearly cut out for me… I know I can love and embrace the first, but what about the second…?

To be continued…


States, Structures, & Shadow

I’ve come recently to really enjoy listening to Ken Wilber, father Thomas Keating, and Rollie Stanich discussing the subject of Christianity, its current state, its future, and seeing it as a window into vast spirituality indicated to buy a vast array of human spiritual inquiry and tradition.

Recently these three joined together in the talk, now available from Integral Life in three parts titled Esoteric Christianity. ( Here, I will touch on a few of the gems from that conversation.

I think that it is in part one where Ken offers a view of state stage proficiency in this way: (and I paraphrase) that there is God/Spirit/the non-dual arising each moment and if we are paying the right kind of attention, we are present to that in our awareness in a fundamental way. However it’s possible, that we aren’t paying that kind of attention, and miss that deep “quality” of being, whereby we may still find ourselves noticing the causal form of the moment, a vast witness of the movement from non-duel into form. Again, it’s possible that we are paying less attention than that, and missed that as well. At this point we still have the chance to see the subtle forms taking shape, the actual divisions of manifestation into qualities, feelings, emotions of being… and yet…. Still we might find our attention lacking to even that quality of being, leaving us to experience the world in our perception is nothing more than gross forms, a concrete, material flatland void of any depth or feeling.

I think Ken said it much better than I managed here and definitely encourage you to listen to his description of this, however it did leave me wondering. I’ve been stricken lately with the idea of perception as being a matter of scale, simply an arbitrary slice of a vast continuum extending infinitely in all directions. I find myself looking for the ends of these spectrum, where do my ideas of being merge with the mystery, and what is the nature of those boundaries and borders?

In the particular spectrum described above, I imagine it’s possible also to miss the gross nature of manifestation were not only does one have no sense of depth or subtlety, but not even a sense of a manifest condition, only the autistic self arises in one’s awareness… and what if one misses even that, what is the quality of awareness that fails even itself?

It seems like there is a short arc described in all of this from non-dual to non-awareness, is really the world that could be described by human thought and expression so slight as to be nothing more than a white cap on a wave of some great ocean? And why the insistence of these finite metaphors, is it possible that language itself, even ourselves as utterances of the Great Perfection are not adequate to express the infinite?

This seems like a reasonable segue to one of the other beautiful gems of the discussion. In the second part, Rollie offers a beautiful description of Christ always knocking on the door just outside our own borders. Beautifully invoking the question that Christ asks “who do you say I am?” Mr. Stanich invites us to look for the second coming, and the second coming, and the second coming of Christ always beckoning us onward through our own spirals of development.

The last thing I would like to mention of this dialogue actually correlates to the title of part three: “the Five Non-dual Paths”. In this section, Wilber beautifully illustrates five of the world’s great non-dual paths and their description of ultimate reality, what causes this to become obscured in our consciousness, and what we might do to return this to the grace of that full awareness. Again, I would urge a listening to the description directly. I have also noted the description into a simple table, offered below.