What About A Spiritual’s Ego?
A question that I can’t find an answer to.
Being spiritually aware — and even saying that aloud sounds so disingenuous and pretentious — is a tricky idea to entertain. Mostly because one is never sure if they are really spiritually aware, or what being ‘spiritually aware’ even entails.
Being spiritually aware is not really a state of being. It is just a constant, conscious pursuit, a long walk down a path that promises bliss and peace and contentment and a higher awareness of the self. More than anything else, it is a choice to make an effort to look beyond the material trappings of our existence and seek bliss and fulfillment in senses not usually processed by our immediate, worldly surroundings.
Of course, the definition and scope of spiritual awareness is as malleable as it is flexible. Because the very core of spirituality is fluid, unlike most worldly rules, traditions and dogmas, it makes way for all sorts of different, sometimes even warring perspectives. And so, the idea of spiritual awareness stretches from the realm of esoteric mysticism to all extents of self realization to nothing more and nothing less than a simple, straightforward attempt to lead a more balanced, fulfilling, holistic life.
Irrespective of what level of spiritual awareness you think you own or entertain or aspire for, the mere turn on that path is a transformative, life altering move. Our perspective gets fundamentally altered and we have new understanding, new ideas about everything, whether trivial or momentous. The metamorphosis is almost always dramatic, at least in terms of the stark contrast that you experience in how you start processing things compared to how most people around you function.
And therein lies the problem. Because suddenly, you find yourself on a pedestal that in a different realm if not a different elevation from where everything seems different. I am refraining from using words like clearer or better, because that terminology lies at the core of my concern — a rather personal dilemma that has been bothering me for quite sometime now.
One of the fundamental tenets of being truly spiritual is to be able to surrender your ego personality. The fluidity of spirituality requires us to be unquestionably inclusive and non-judgmental, making space for all sorts of different ideas, experiences and stories, processing them with an aware consciousness. After all, being spiritual means you know that right and wrong are merely subjective constructs, and everyone has the right to chase the meaning and purpose of their own life in their own way. And just because they are different, doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
Unfortunately, that is a tenet that remains as ignored as it is hard to implement. In the end, spirituality so often becomes just another excuse for a dogma that separates us from them.
While most seekers of spirituality do not find it hard to implement the ideas of non-judgmental inclusivity in a macro sense, being incredibly sensitive and empathetic towards all sorts of fault lines, it is the line that is much personal and closer home that most of us…or at least I struggle with.
Despite a conscious effort to shed ego and judgments, it is when confronted with the non-spiritual (which in itself is a reductive and disingenuous phrase) that our defenses crumble, and we fall right down the rabbit hole of us and them.
It is tough. It is also, perhaps, a symptom of half baked, barely there spirituality. Which in itself is a problem that can only be addressed with time and patience. Meanwhile, I find myself struggling with the question — what about a (aspiring) spiritual’s ego? What is one supposed to do with it? Process it? Ignore it? Deny it?
I have posed this question to a few fellow seekers whose struggles and journeys I have admired. And almost always, I have been met with either a flabbergasted silence, or (often) a denial that such an ego even exists.
This is a problem. Because the ego exists. For most of us spiritual amateurs, it exists without a fail. Denying it doesn’t make it disappear. It only widens this undesirable gap between them and us, a chasm built off a sense of (patently unspiritual and usually false)superiority— a chasm, that I am afraid, might prove a massive hurdle in our own spiritual quests.
So, how do we deal with it?
I wish I had an answer to that question. But I genuinely don’t. I wrote this piece mostly to process this problematic proposition as well as throw this question out in open to all my fellow seekers (especially my favorite, much admired spiritualist on Medium, Jack Preston King. I am really, really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this, should you choose to address this dilemma).
Because I think as we all hurtle down our own respective quests, it makes sense to pause and examine the minuter aspect of who we are and what we are doing. In the end, all spirituality is awareness, and perhaps an awareness of the ego that comes with spiritual interests (I am refraining from using the word ‘awakening’ because it is a far more advanced state, and I suspect that people who have arrived there are enlightened enough to have moved past such minor concerns) is our best defense against its inevitable onslaught.
At least that is what I tell myself while I search for more concrete answers.
So, what are your thoughts about a spiritual’s ego? Come let’s talk! Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments below. And if this piece made you think/wonder/question, please don’t forget to clap! :)