“We have only this moment,
sparkling like a star in our hand...
and melting like a snowflake.”

Civilisation, the Ego and Fear

In Hoc Signo Vintes by Zdzisław Beksiński
I'll try to explain with this post the relationship between civilisation, the ego and fear.

What is the Ego?

The Ego is a mechanism, or a filter, that our minds create to keep us in tune with the reality in which we live. The Ego is constantly making a censorship of the infinity of information and sensations that constantly surround us, allowing in only the signals that comply with our mental program (our belief systems, behaviour patterns, education, etc) that we have assimilated since the early days of childhood. This mechanism is very important for the psychological integrity of the individual.

We all need to make sense of our reality as it is a basic need that stems from our survival instinct. Most people depend too much from their mental program to make sense of their reality because they maintain a closed mind to foreign ideas, different behaviour patterns, new experiences, and so their ego will cling to their mental program, and defend it at all costs against other sources of novelty. The Ego is a filter that works for outward signals, but it can also function as a filter for the signals that our unconscious sends us in the form of emotions, feelings, intuitions. This inner censorship is one of the major contributing factors that keeps man asleep and separated from his true nature.

We all need to have an ego of course. Without an ego it would be impossible to function in everyday life. Without it we could for example, during lunch, put the fork with food into the mouth of our colleague thinking that it was our own mouth.

If we are interested in living a healthy life as human beings and in harmony with nature we need a healthy ego. We need it so our Consciousness remains stable and confident with the body and mind it occupies. I mention this because I do not want to leave the mistaken belief that we must "annihilate" the ego in order to awaken. It's good to experience some states of consciousness free from this filter, but most of our time we live in a normal state of consciousness and we need the filter to be able to interact with our physical world and with others. But we must observe it and see how it works, and how much it prevents us from actually acquiring a healthy relation with the present moment, Life.

The relationship between the Ego and the Beast 

When I refer to the Beast, I don not mean that I believe there is some kind of demon, devil or supernatural entity with bad intentions behind it all. I use the term Beast to make it clear how I see our civilisation, as an irrational destructive force. And secondly because I see the cluster of human beings who keep this civilisation operating, as being possessed by a profound ignorance about our true nature, and the reality in which we live as it truly Is.

Children will begin to form the ego using as raw material their experiences and education they receive from their environment created by their families, and then later by their schools. This education is based on a set of values ​​provided by a civilisation that is not in harmony with Truth or with Universal Law of Nature. If you want other points of reference regarding this Universal Order I'd suggest for example the Buddhist Dhamma, the Taoist Tao, the philosophic Logos. Another good word would be simply the Cosmos.

All human beings who in this way acquire a filter or Ego formed not by their true Selves nor with the assistance of people aware of the Universal Law, but by agents working for civilisation; not based on values ​​of freedom and harmony with Nature, but according to the interests of civilisation; these human beings will become the future operators, technicians and consumers who maintain this destructive machine operating, civilisation, the Beast.

It's difficult to address people who are still prisoners of this mental program, or culture, the operative system of civilisation. Because one of the most insidious illusions that civilisation provides us, is the idea of ​​separation. The idea that this illusory ego, is real, separated, more important than the rest of humanity and Nature. This absurd idea of ​​separation will then justify behaviours like: consumerism, ignorance, selfishness, shallowness, passiveness etc. Nothing matters to such a person except their own personal satisfaction, survival and maintenance of their ignorance, or in other words, they act, behave and think in such ways as to comply with and defend their mental program from external influences that are not in harmony with the general attitude of society.

This is one of the fundamental problems with the education children receive, the mental program that will shape their egos, and it is this idea of ​​separation between us and Nature. In reality there is no separation. And this is not even just a spiritual, philosophical or religious idea. It is possible through the study of Nature and its ecosystems to realise that life on Earth works as an organism, in which it's parts depend on each other for the functioning of the whole. There is a very strong relationship for example between the plant world and the human being. Trees share much of our DNA. Trees provide us with oxygen while breathing hydrogen. We breathe that oxygen and exhale the hydrogen which the trees need. We humans have cells, organs, and other mechanisms that can be studied and catalogued separately, but they all work together as a whole for the purpose of maintaining our body healthy. Also in this way we can say that we humans, all other forms of life and the planet itself, are merely parts of a greater Whole. We are supposed to work together in order to maintain the harmony of this larger and more intelligent organism that is beyond our comprehension.

Science sees life on Earth as the product of accident, it sees Nature as a stupid and brute force, and we humans as more intelligent than it, capable of transcending and controlling it. It's a basic flaw, only possible to come about through our arrogance and spiritual ignorance. If it is true that humanity can absolutely transcend Nature then why does Science regard the human brain as a mystery? Science cannot eliminate this "mystery factor" in this things such as the brain or quantum physics, because Nature, or the Cosmos, created the brain, our intelligence, and our reality! What does this say about Nature? We are part of a Whole that we cannot possibly understand, and by trying to understand it and controlling it to our own benefit we have become a destructive force, a walking tumour on this planet. Awakening provides an answer to this questions but only the individual, as a lonely seeker, can have access to it. But it is an unspeakable answer because it does not come from the mechanical mind, thought, it comes from that which is above and aware of that mind and it's thought, Life itself, Consciousness, the Great Mystery. From this point of view we are able understand the interdependence of the various elements in the natural world, being then able to move on to more philosophical and spiritual issues towards the Truth, an awakening to the reality of Life.

The Fear

The absurd belief systems that are passed on to children and that they will incorporate into their egos, specially this notion of separation from Nature and other human beings, will contribute to a spiritual ignorance about what death means. And this is so because to realise what death means you must first realise what life means. Life, the Cosmos and our reality are not different things, they are really One. Therefore a human being ignorant of this connection with the Whole, who insists on clinging to this idea of ​​separation, will not understand what it means to live, living in this way a life of fear continuously seeking to ignore the idea that one day he will die, constantly seeking refuge in what his mental program tells him to do: food, distractions, work, sleep etc. This is the general state of Man. I am not saying that it is possible to know what happens when we die, or what comes after death. But it is possible to know who and what we are, and this knowledge leads us to the intuitive knowledge that with the death of the body there is nothing that really ends. "Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed". It is not an intellectual knowing, it is an intuitive knowing that we all carry with us on the very ground of our own Being. Awakening is the restoration of that intuitive knowledge which was part of us as children, before the programming began. This intuitive knowledge, this ground of our Being is our own Soul which in the process of assimilation of the mental program of civilisation was repressed, forgotten, betrayed and sent into the unconscious where it has been kept asleep. The fear that this artificial and limited mental program forces us to feel from what is unknown, combined with the pain of the betrayal of the Soul will create this fear/terror that keeps us weak and unable to figure out the illusion of separation, making us slaves to the selfish Ego and to the Beast.

The original fear was not a conceptual fear, but was an instinctive fear, an animal fear which was the result of the need for the primitive man to survive. That original fear propelled the primitive man into a quest to transcend Nature to a certain degree, and thus we find ourselves today in a state in which we still struggle for survival, not with cave bears or sabre-tooth tigers but with each other, ourselves, and with the Planet, breeding in this way so much wrong perceptions about each other, so much suffering and destruction. We fight today not with sticks and stones but with words, ideas, symbols, abstractions, tanks, missiles, oil, money, chemicals, propaganda and so on. This fear that exists today in our minds is a result of a fixation with the world of ideas, concepts, beliefs, perceptions, attitudes, steaming from our mental program, which in turn will condition our emotional response increasing in this way our fear and need for protection. It's a vicious cycle. Today's fear is no longer a justifiable one, as it was to primitive man. It has been transmitted by society through education and has become deeply rooted in our psyches behaving in this way like a virus, transmitted from generation to generation.

This fear, which keeps the Ego in check and obedient to its master, the Beast or the Empire, prevents us from looking at reality as it truly Is and to recognise what it means to be alive. It is a fear of losing the Ego, a fear of death, or a fear that our mental program will be erased, in other words a fear that we might become mad, or possessed by unknown forces. To keep away this fear, the common man insists on protecting, fulfilling and identifying himself with this civilisation's mental program. This identification along with the illusion of domestic comfort, consumerism, the illusion that science, authority and religion have all the answers to the problems afflicting society, provides people with some peace of mind and comfort. And even if everything goes wrong and we follow a path of destruction, this will not matter to the sleeping man because he won't be here to deal with the chaotic world we will leave to our children. Even here there is ignorance and selfishness. One would expect someone with some kind of common sense, intelligence, and compassion for their children, might worry about the world we're leaving for future generations. But the fear that controls the hearts and minds of men today, forces them to protect their ignorance, the mental program, and the Ego, that connects them to the civilisation, the Beast.

Is there a solution?

There is a solution that cannot be transformed into a theory, a religion or even a movement. The real solution for the individual who lies asleep is not to go out and take to the streets shouting and criticising  governments or any kind of violent opposition. First of all the individual must understand himself. The sleeping human being needs to make an effort to hear the voice that he sank into the depths of his unconscious, into oblivion. We need to make a pause in our noisy lives, we need to stop, to seek solitude, to take refuge in nature and to listen to the sound of silence. In this way we are giving ourselves the opportunity to listen again to this inner voice, which is the voice of our own Soul that seeks for us, that asks us to for our attention, it is who we truly are. It is the voice of the child we once were and who understood the meaning of life and the unity of all things, but was betrayed. It is the place where Imagination knows no limits. This is how we start our journey towards awakening. But it takes effort, it takes courage to face this fear inside and transcend it, transcend the ego and the conditioning that has been imposed by family and society, and know what the Truth is, and to see reality as it truly Is. Only then can the awakened individual make a decision and act as an agent of Truth.

2 comments:

sarah said...

i thought this was a brilliant post, but I don't think its fair to say that 'science..sees Nature as a stupid and brute force, and we humans as more intelligent than it, capable of transcending and controlling it'

Yes, it gives men the power or tries to give men the power to trancend nature but it doesn't pass judgements or make claims. It only tries to expand understanding and offer options, given the manner in which men behave- science just tries to offer sollutions.

Its purpose is to equip men better and it does that, the decision to pillage the earth and its resources and treat it with disregard comes from men. And not just men of science but all men and from their arrogance and belief that somehow they are more worthy of control.

but beautiful post and love what you say abt the interdependence of elements and how we fail to teach our children about this relationship..

Bruno Gonçalo said...

Sarah,

I see Science as a worthy and noble enterprise, a useful tool, in the sense that, as you say, it tries to expand understanding and offers options and so on, or at least it started with that intention. To me the problem is with the scientific community, or the men who use the tool of Science. It's a problem when Science becomes dogmatic, stagnant, when it is used to serve Ego, or in other words, in favour of academic achievements, when it serves economic interests, pressure groups, or politics etc, instead of serving Truth.

In a way it is good for Science not to pass judgement or to make claims. On the other hand I see a certain danger in that, because when Science, as a tool, is placed in the wrong hands, that "coldness" of Science gives men justification to engage in the most dehumanising and brutal atrocities. The so called scientists who helped develop the "H" bomb were using Science and Nazi scientists were also using that same tool when performing their brutal experiments on prisoners.

Above all a scientist is first and foremost a human being. When a true human being, who actually knows what it means to be alive, uses Science in the right way, the outcome is always true and useful knowledge. It's dangerous to have people who have no clue about what it means to be human, to be using the tool of Science, the outcome can only be chaos, destruction and suffering.

In short, I just think there should be much more humaneness, humility, and compassion on the part of Scientists. Nature should be seen not as an object of study, but as a collaborator and a teacher, to be treated with respect, this would make their job much more humane, much more fun and fulfilling, and in this way Science could go much further in its quest for understanding. Science when done rightly is in fact a Spiritual undertaking, it becomes Art. Science today is mostly business.

Thank you for your comment.

Bruno