THE KEY TO TRUE LOVE
Do you long for love?
Most of us do. The intimate touch of another soul is the most powerful antidote for the all-too-human experience of aloneness. It may be the most compelling and pleasurable experience there is.
So why do we spend so much of our time and energy avoiding intimacy by defending ourselves, being angry, critical, closed and judgmental – in short, blocking the experience that we most deeply want?
DEFENDING THE EGO GETS IN THE WAY OF LOVE.
The answer is that we are wired to constantly reinforce our limited ego-based identity, our sense of who we are.
This ego-based identity plays a very important role in human life, but it does not have the power to love. Ego is all about the self. It can and does experience need, and need is often easy to mistake for love. And it can certainly love how another person makes it feel.
But these things aren’t true love. True love and intimacy doesn’t come from the ego. In order to experience the power of true love you have to get in touch with a different part of yourself – the part that lies beyond ego.
THE TRUE NATURE OF EGO.
This process is easier when you understand the true nature of your ego-based identity: It doesn’t really exist.
Although it functions as if it’s the most real thing about you, in actual fact your ‘identity’ is only a perspective. It’s kept alive solely through the stories you tell yourself about life, others and yourself.
You could literally say that your ego is all talk – an incessant monologue whose sole purpose is to reinforce your sense of self – who you are and who you aren’t.
Most of the time it goes something like this: “I’m better than he is, uglier than she is, smarter than him, richer than her, worse than I should be. I can do this, I could never do this, I shouldn’t have done that, they shouldn’t be that way. Life is good, life is hard, he’s right, she’s wrong, I’m great, I’m no good, it’s my fault, it’s their fault…” and on, and on, and on…
Just as a whale identifies its location through bouncing sound waves off nearby objects, your ego pinpoints its own presence – defines itself – by relating to the people, ideas, and objects around it.
This process is continuous. Your identity must be continuously reinforced or you will quite literally lose the sense of who you are.
That’s why it can be so very threatening to have something or somebody confronting your ego – your beliefs about yourself, others or the world. Since the ego is actually made out of these beliefs, perspectives and opinions, and you identify the ego as ‘you’, when your beliefs are threatened it can feel just like a threat to your very survival.
Quite simply, the more you get to be ‘right’ about things, the more real and solid you feel, and the more you have to be ‘wrong’, the more threatened and diminished.
WHO ARE YOU REALLY?
This would be really bad news if not for the fact that there is another part of you. This part – your core essence, your authentic self – has an intrinsic reality. Unlike your ego-based identity, its existence is not dependent upon outside circumstances or stories. And unlike your ego, it’s not threatened by someone else’s success, or enhanced by their failure. In fact, the opposite is true.
You could visualize your ego/identity as like the surface of the ocean; changeable, vulnerable, reflecting the sun, sky, and clouds, affected by every wind. Your core is the vast, calm, still, deep water beneath. Those deep mysterious waters teem with every kind of life and potential, but this life is invisible from the surface.
All transformation involves a process of seeing beneath the changeable surface and connecting with the vast deep life-giving waters beneath. This process usually involves a level of discomfort as your identity is shaken out of its placid solid form and made to expand and reflect a deeper level of reality.
But it’s worth it.
MY LITTLE WAKE-UP CALL
Last year I had a very typical experience from which I learned an uncommon lesson.
I was upstairs in my bedroom. My husband was late getting home and had failed to call me to let me know. I wasn’t really worried about him, but I still began to get more and more agitated by the fact that he hadn’t come home when he said he would.
The later he become, the angrier I grew. By the time I finally heard the door downstairs I was in a fury. (I realize that this doesn’t show me in a particularly positive light – but the truth is, that’s exactly what happened.)
Like a balloon inflating with hot air, I got ready to blow up at him.
But then something happened. In a moment of unusual lucidity, I saw the future before my eyes. This is what it looked like:
First, I’d blow up. I’d express some righteous indignation (in a loud voice). I’d persist until my husband (generally a pretty nice, easy-going guy) admitted that his behavior had been rude and inconsiderate. Then, once my anger was properly validated, I’d forgive him and we could be friends again – but only after I’d temporarily diminished his ego and inflated my own.
In that one lucid moment I realized that I could simply skip the whole thing and go straight to being authentic and close. I saw a new possibility – the possibility of refusing to be a slave to my own ego. To choose from a deeper, calmer, more authentic part of myself.
I was overwhelmed with a sense of how massively stupid, predictable, automatic and ridiculous this whole pattern actually is.
What part of me saw that new possibility? The part that peeked out through the surface of my ego – a little piece of my core.
EGO AND PURPOSE – THE STAGES OF CREATION
The world was created in three basic stages.
In Stage One, G-d’s* Infinite all-pervasive essential light was shining without limit, filling all space. There was no place devoid of it, and therefore nothing could exist aside from it. This is the stage of Infinity.
In Stage Two, G-d concealed His Infinite light in order to create an apparently ‘empty space’ in which other things (i.e., the universe, us) could exist. This concealment of the truth is Stage Two. This is the stage of the finite, where it became possible for myriad creatures and myriad perspectives, each with its own limited boundaries and parameters, to exist.
Stage Three is the merging of infinite and finite. It involves the transformation of the finite inhabitants of the universe. They must move from a state of being which conceals their infinite Divine Source to one which expresses and reveals it.
Like a game of hide and seek, G-d conceals Himself in our finite world and waits for us to find Him. Through this process He can endow us with the greatest gift there is – to exist as finite individuals and yet experience a truly intimate relationship with our Creator.
Your ego is central to this process.
Like everything in the physical world, your ego hides the light of your essence. It is what allows you exist as a separate individual. By blocking out your intrinsic connection to
G-d, your true nature and purpose, and the essential oneness of the universe, your ego allows you to function as an individual. It allows you to have a personal perspective and a personal experience of life. Without it you’d be simply a part of the whole.
But this is only the beginning the process. The ultimate goal is that through your ego – your role as a limited individual with a limited perspective, you will find your way back home.
HOW IT WORKS
We have entered the Era of Transformation. This means that you can train your ego-based identity to recognize and align itself with the voice of your authentic self. The ego doesn’t have to be defended or suppressed – it can be transformed. Your ego can be used on behalf of the purpose for which it was created in the first place – to allow you to enhance your relationship with your Creator, express the potential of your essence, and fulfill your purpose here on earth.
Your defensive ego-based reactions will probably not go away for now. But instead of being a slave to them, you can use them as the impetus to connect to these deeper parts of you. The moment you choose to observe yourself rather than react, to question your own defensive instincts, to genuinely see another person’s point of view, to admit where you may be wrong, to connect with something higher, to be generous with your time, money or resources when you don’t have to, you have made your ego your ally.
In fact, whenever you choose use your body, your mind, your time, your relationships or your possessions to fulfill your authentic purpose – to do something intrinsically good or G-dly – those things, for that moment, are Holy. They have been used on behalf of the purpose of Creation. You have created a bit of light through which the world’s darkness and concealment will be transformed.
*Since the Torah forbids the erasing of G-d’s name, it’s customary to avoid writing it out in full.