February 2019, by Cliff Barry with Heidi Loeppky
I used to call myself Moonbeam. I was a real Flower Child. When people asked me where I was from, I would say “The Universe.”
Now, I was on a significant spiritual journey, an honorable quest, to “let go of the ego” or perhaps even “annihilate the ego”. And I discovered that there’s clearly some value in letting go of your ego at times. But letting go of your ego can become like a dog chasing its tail. I once had a teacher stop me dead in my tracks by asking me:
“And exactly who is it that is trying to annihilate the ego?”.
“Ooooh…I guess that would be my ego,” I had to admit sheepishly.
In Shadow Work®, we believe there are 4 main energies that make up a human being, one of which is responsible for sustaining your ego. Scientists name these genetic pre-dispositions as Novelty-Seeking, Harm Avoidance, Dependence
Your genetic pre-disposition called Persistence has the special function of creating and maintaining your personal sense of self, your ego.
Your ego is the mechanism that anchors all the other parts of you and gives you agency to act in the world. Without an ego, you can’t do much in the world. That’s why we like to say that “Ego is job one.” If your ego is well built you can be an effective agent of power, love, wisdom and service in the world. So if you are looking for someone who can perform well under pressure, get someone with a big ego. That’s why you want an airline pilot with a big ego. That’s why you want a brain surgeon with a big ego. Ego is needed to get things done.
An unhealthy ego, on the other hand, leads to a shaky performance. That’s why as Moonbeam I had trouble making money. That’s why you wouldn’t want Moonbeam flying your plane.
A weak ego will cause you to belittle others, in order to temporarily boost your cardboard identity. Or, in the other extreme, the weak ego with cause you to become a meek, indecisive wallflower who is afraid to take up space by speaking or acting with power. Both of these weak egos are like a container with cracks and holes through which the energy to get things done simply leaks out onto the ground.
Here’s one of my favorite metaphors to illustrate the value of building a healthy ego.
Your ego is a lot like the earth, orbiting around the sun. The earth has its own momentum which wants to break out of its orbit and follow its own straight path into the universe, never to return. You get caught up in this perilous momentum when you feel separate from Spirit (or your Higher Self, or the Divine, or Source or whatever you want to call it).
When you get over-confident (or you start to see yourself as spiritually superior, or you believe you’ve got it all figured out) you are like a planet on a hubristic trajectory, heading directly away from the sun, and therefore away from the center of your own survival. You probably call this “being selfish.”
When you are like a planet trying to speed off into infinity, you can, indeed, find some help in the teachings that recommend a dissolution of the ego. Getting outside your own ego can offer some incredible life-altering gems. Shifting your focus off yourself and towards something higher is an important step.
But you can overdo it. Consider for a moment what would happen to the earth if it lost all of its own individual momentum. Suppose the earth abandoned its own trajectory and surrendered completely to the pull of the sun. The earth would fall into the sun. It would absorbed completely by the sun. And while the sun might become incrementally bigger, all the millions of species of life on earth would perish.
In a solar system where the sun is powerfully pulling everything in towards itself, the opposing force of the earth’s individual momentum is the only thing protecting life on earth.
Even though the sun and the earth are essentially one, (all matter is made of molecules that came from stars like the sun) there are millions of reasons to retain a sense of distinctness. This distinctness allows us to experience a unique essence.
Like the earth in this story, our ego sometimes has a desire to go off on its own, in the opposite direction of Spirit. But if our individual momentum can be balanced with the pulling force of Spirit, the self can orbit around Spirit in much the same way as the earth orbits around the sun. This balance is the most fertile and productive formula yet to be discovered by science. The human species alone has almost 8 billion unique expressions of Spirit, no two alike, but all manifestations of the same essence. Each individual ego is a container capable of shaping Spirit into a never-before-seen art form.
Many mythologies present this miracle as the reason life was created, so that the one consciousness could experience its own depth and breadth through a full range of manifestations.
Like light refracting through a prism to disseminate the visible color spectrum, Spirit can refract itself thought your ego, which allows you to fulfill your purpose as one of the most complex and beautiful masterpieces of all.S
Cliff Barry is a Shadow Work Founder, Certified Coach, Facilitator, Trainer
Heidi Loeppky is the founder of Shamaya Tantra and is currently training as a Shadow Work® facilitator. She is the co-creator of the Canadian Tantra Festival and offers regular Tantra workshops in her home base of Edmonton, Alberta. Her websites are ShamayaTantra.com and CanadaTantra.com.
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