Several weeks ago, I had what seemed to me to be a terrifying experience just as I was emerging from a dream state and entering a more awakened frame of mind. During that brief period, I had absolutely no boundaries - no ego - and therefore possessed no control over the threatening thoughts and emotions that were passing through my awareness at the time. When I woke up, I felt so grateful that I do indeed have a functioning ego during my waking hours to filter which thoughts and emotions will be ushered into my awareness, and which will not.
The ego gets a bad rap only because it has a tendency to constrict and wall us off from the free flow of divine grace. But ego is necessary in order for us to be able to experience divine union. Without the sensation of ego-constriction, we would never know the spacious expanse of divine union. In fact, ego is meant not to disappear, but to become translucent to the sacred Other. It goes through continual cycles of constriction, release into union, constriction, and then release once again, thus enabling us to experience divine union through our dwelling within the liminal space between the two states. Often, of course, rather than occurring sequentially, the two states may happen simultaneously. In any case, ego only becomes a problem when it REMAINS solid and walled off from an awareness of our Source and of the life we share with others.
We need ego's boundaries, but we need them to remain permeable, thereby providing us with just enough constriction to be able to experience the spaciousness of Divine Union by contrast. Without ego, it turns out, we would never KNOW we are in union!
In the following poem, "moth-wings" represent ego, while the flame stands for union:
"Let us away . . .
You and I.
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets
of moth wings,
So you could burn them away
one set a night"
In order to know divine union, we need the continual process whereby the moth-wing ego constricts and then releases itself into the flame - over and over again . . . perhaps . . . for all eternity.
Photo: Ice artistry on Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.