One of the most important questions in leading any sort of spiritual existence is what to do about fights and conflict. Buddhist thought concentrates on destroying the illusion that we are separate from each other.
The thought goes that the ego stops us from seeing our true nature. Nirvana or enlightenment occurs when we see the ultimate reality of everyone and everything being one and whole. With this philosophy, every time you do something nasty to somebody, you are actually sinning against yourself as there is no ‘you’ or ‘them’.
“Ego can be a tremendous ally in your quest for happiness”
Of course, life doesn’t work that way. Perhaps if we all lived in an enlightened society with compulsory retreats to discover the true nature of the cosmos, it might be a different story but, as life stands, we have to live in this reality, with these limitations on perception. I once wrote an article for a New Age magazine that was designed to purposely inflame the readers. I argued that to have an ego was a great thing and to develop that ego was a spiritual duty for the common man as sacred as the duty to destroy ego is for some spiritual traditions.
I stand by a lot of what I said in that article. Ego can be a tremendous ally in your quest for happiness. Ego will alter you much quicker than any other parts of you when you’re unhappy. Ego has the ability to blurt out the truth in a way that only children can. See me as ‘me’ and pity the fool that gives
me a hard time. It isn’t terribly evolved but it is entirely honest.
People fly spiritually when they resonate their entire beings at a higher frequency. You can’t take a shortcut to getting there by chopping off your ego self to lighten your load and gain flight. It is a poor imitation of enlightenment and is easily shown up the second you take a body blow to the self-same ego you thought you had jettisoned. So it is far better to work with your ego and fight when you need to, while realising that you should rarely need to fight.
“I was raised not to turn the other cheek but to know the difference between the slap that needed an answer and that which could be forgiven.”
Shamanism of one sort or another played a very important part in my upbringing. My parents believed more in the power of mysticism than in that of religious dogma. They were more concerned that I spoke with God than that I said my prayers. Rites and rituals were considered less important than living a good life with strong ethical principles. Of course their principles didn’t always tally with those of society at large or even my schoolteachers on occasion. I would come home bruised and scratched from fights and my father’s main concern was that I had given as good as I got.
‘The more wisdom a man acquires,’ explained my father. ‘The more humble he becomes’.
Bullying or being bullied was not considered acceptable but fights were seen as regrettable and yet understandable. I was raised not to turn the other cheek but to know the difference between the slap that needed an answer and that which could be forgiven. With this fierce righteousness, we were also taught the importance of humility. ‘The more wisdom a man acquires,’ explained my father. ‘The more humble he becomes’.
This is something that we in esoteric circles forget: that the ego can also be humble. When we think of ego, we think of brash selfishness, we don’t think of a spirit entity that is us and is intimately concerned with protecting us. We are guilty of quite the most terrible propaganda against the ego.
In Huna (Polynesian shamanism) it is believed that we have
three selves; a
divine higher self, the
conscious ‘I’ and an ego,
or carnal self. A lot of the work that is done in attaining happiness is through resolving all and any issues with your carnal self. While many spiritual traditions teach that you should seek to destroy your ego or carnal self, a few traditions have taught the world how to use this part of you to attain all that you desire.
This is the philosophy that most appeals to me as you cannot gain spiritual enlightenment through negating any part of yourself and hiding it away like some dirty secret. Your ego, your carnality are part of what makes you human so you should embrace and seek to work with your carnal self.
“I had a conversation with my carnal self. From my midriff region, a black shadow emerged with the reddest eyes”
How does this work in practice? Well, for example, I overeat. I find myself eating when I’m depressed, when I’m happy, when I’m bored, when I need comfort. I tried many different routes to lose weight and stop overeating. None of them worked because I had not approached the one person that could achieve this for me – my carnal self. So one day, I had a conversation with my carnal self.
From my midriff region, a black shadow emerged with the reddest eyes and lay next to me in my bed. When it spoke (the gender seemed unfixed), it was as if hundreds of voices were speaking in unison.
‘Why are we allowing ourselves to get so fat?’ I asked this powerful part of myself.
‘We like the feeling,’ it replied.
‘What feeling?’ I asked.
‘The feeling of being filled,’ said my carnal self.
I immediately understood that it was not the food I was craving but the feeling of having my mouth crammed full of something. A return to the breast and the feelings of comfort associated with having your mouth filled with your mother’s breast. I had learnt early on that the feeling of the whole mouth being filled was a good one. It had pleasant associations. I thanked my carnal self for this information and asked it to help me in doing what I could to break this association and habit.
‘Why?’ asked my carnal self. At this stage, even though I wanted to say ‘duh! Why do you think, you silly moo!’, I used the more tactful approach of saying ‘look, we want to be fit and not hurt when we have run a bit or gone upstairs, we don’t want to hurt any more from chafed thighs or burning lungs.’
If you would like to have a conversation with your
carnal self, remember to always use
The thing is that even though at some level, my carnal self was aware that I was exasperated at its refusal to understand this basic principle, it still needed to be told exactly why it should help me achieve this goal.
If you would like to have a conversation with your carnal self, remember to always use
‘we’ when speaking. Your carnal self is you and so it may feel a bit like you’re talking like the Queen to begin with but this is greater than the Royal ‘we’ - this is the Divine ‘we’.
If you continue to build a positive relationship with all components of your being, including your ego, you will find that your goals are reached much quicker and much less painfully. You may even find that conflict starts to dissolve entirely from your life!
to see more examples of Tania Ahsan’s work.
Personal Dialogues in
Personal Dialogue With Tania Ahsan, Editor Of Prediction Magazine