Each time you have told yourself, "I am this", or "I am that," you kept yourself limited. You have conformed to a particular way of thinking and a particular way of acting in the world. You have restricted yourself to a certain code of behavior, dictated not by true desire of the heart, but by outside influences. You have allowed external impressions to determine your identity, rather than allowing the spiritual force of your True Self to emerge.
When you claim,
"I am a man."
then you have limited yourself.
By these and other definitions you've adopted a role in life and made it your reason for living. It is the ego's quest for personal power, its way of surviving the challenges on earth. It is how the ego justifies its existence. Great effort is taken to maintain, protect and defend that image. Any threat to that identity, real or imagined, becomes a threat to survival.
You then surround yourself with others who fit within these categories and a group consciousness is formed. This consciousness is the result of the collective ego forming a safe and familiar environment whose participants agree to unspoken rules of thought and action. Your sense of self, the range of your thoughts and actions, are then limited to the standards of a collective ego.
The Ego Seeks Outside Validation and Safety
Though this may be an individual's attempt to discover more about its own personality, an attempt to grow into a new sense of self, it is still driven by the ego seeking outside validation. Because the ego is threatened by the illusion of separation, an individual will seek to enhance his or her identity by joining a particular group, uniting with other individuals who also feel separate. Together, however, they are no longer alone. United by shared interests and a mutual outlook on life, an organization is formed to empower the ego. All groups become organizations. All groups gather and form a collective ego.
Informal organizations include family relationships, groups of friends, racial and cultural preferences. Formal organizations include religious, political, business, or social structures. Yet all groups, no matter how they are formed, maintain a similar purpose. Each gives the ego a sense of self, a sense of protection, and an image of being unique.
Unless an organization can present itself as being unique, with the ability to meet the ego's needs better than any other organization, it will cease to exist. The collective ego of an organization must claim to offer its participants something that cannot be found elsewhere. It must offer the individual ego an identity greater than what other organizations offer.
This is known as the "herding instinct" of ego consciousness. It expresses itself in the thought "there is safety in numbers". Safety from what? Safety from those who are not part of the herd, those other organizations, those outside the family, those of another religion, race, or culture. By becoming part of a collective ego, the individual seeks protection from the self-created illusion of danger. United with others who share a similar outlook on life, the individual ego feels stronger. This strength comes from compatible egos encouraging a mutual perception of reality. In order to be compatible the individual ego must conform to the doctrines of the organization.
Separation, Competition, and Opposition
To insure conformity of thought and action, every organization, formal and informal, must distinguish itself from other groups. The stricter the organization, the more dogmatic its outlook, the greater the difference between "us" and "them." The collective ego uses the illusion of separation to justify its existence. Those outside the organization are not to be trusted. They are inferior. They are sinful. They are a threat because they are not one of us. Without this conflict the collective ego has no purpose.
Opposition strengthens the collective identity of an organization. A religious institution, therefore, sees a different religion with a different name for God as a threat. A particular political viewpoint must vanquish another. In business there must be competition. Anyone outside the family is less valuable than a blood relation. Those who dress differently are dismissed as inferior. Sexual preference outside established morals is a threat to society. Those who disagree with the organization's limited perception of reality, become ostracized, driven from the family, dismissed as a renegade and isolated as a traitor.
Within an organization conformity must be tested. Competition is maintained to insure loyalty to the group. Titles are bestowed, rewards are given to the worthy, and punishments inflicted on those who falter. In religion it is the promise of salvation or the punishment of damnation. In business it is financial reward or termination. In politics it is the illusion of power or failure into obscurity. Each group becomes an extension of the family with every individual vying for attention, striving for acknowledgment, fearful of the withdrawal of love.
Conforming to Prescribed Patterns of Conduct
An individual ego, fearful of rejection and separation, will conform to prescribed patterns of conduct in seeking the safety and protection of a particular organization. Being surrounded by others who act the same, who dress the same, who are in agreement as to what is right and what is wrong, an individual begins to believe he or she is not alone. To maintain this sense of belonging, you must deny who you truly are and keep your True Personality hidden by suppressing any tendency to be different. You must keep your True Self so buried that no one may see. This is done out of fear.
Often it is this same fear of being alone which compels a person into a relationship with another individual. Again, the ego looks outside itself for a sense of identity, using another individual to supply its needs, to uphold and enhance the ego's definition of reality. On a deep, emotional level, the ego interacts with another ego to compliment its own self-image, or to supplement a lack in abilities.
Yet, no one comes into the world to cater to another's ego. What often results is a conflict between two egos, each fighting to satisfy its own desires. Often the experience of love ends in disappointment when an individual comes to realize that the ego's perception of another was only an illusion; an example of the ego's inability to see beyond a narrow view of reality. The ego's focus on the superficial, and blindness to spiritual reality, contradicts the true beauty of two souls traveling together upon the earth.
Rising Out of the Entanglements of the Ego
Human relationships are complex, rich in meaning, tenacious and delicate. As the world is still within the stage of ego consciousness, relationships on all levels are limited in their interactions as the ego can only express a primitive vibration of love. True love knows no limitations. True love as expressed through the True Personality acknowledges another soul's journey, shares in another's discoveries, is enhanced by the differences in experiences and is supportive of another's struggle to learn.
There is another way to exist in the world. There is a way to rise out of the entanglements of the ego. There is a way to heal all wounds, to comfort the broken heart, to find an end to petty struggles. It lies within you. It may have been forgotten, but it still remains. It is the True Personality, the eternal self embraced by God, connected to all of creation. It is the Divine light of existence that can never be extinguished.
The True Personality knows it is more than an image in a mirror, more than the clothes that adorn the body, more than its occupation on earth. The True Self does not live by bread alone.
What Is the True Self?
Within your True Self lie your unique gifts. It has within its power a greater awareness of reality, a greater sense of what it means to be alive on earth. It can see beyond the limits of time and space. It is light and life itself.
It does not know fear. It sees beyond the illusion of separation. It can never be alone. The True Self is a part of God and has all the spiritual forces, angelic and saintly, as its companions. The True Personality looks lovingly upon others who travel this earth. It sees individuals as creations of God, regardless of how they may think, regardless of how they dress, or what form and color they have chosen for a body.
The True Self sees the common denominator of all of creation. It sees the beauty and majesty of God's light. How can there be separation?
The True Self is wisdom. There dwells within it knowledge gathered from many lives and many experiences. It knows the dark and it knows the light and it knows the difference. It knows without doubt that God's light will always be, and the darkness is already conquered. The increased awareness of the True Personality is sensitive to any challenges to its spiritual well being. From wisdom gathered from previous experiences on earth, the power of the True Self is aware of that which threatens its growth. It has the power to destroy illusion.
The Potential Of The Human Spirit Is Great
You are a spiritual being, a creation of God's love. You possess a great inheritance. The potential of the human spirit is great. You are capable of more, so much more.
You have grown from an infant into a child, from childhood you evolved into an adult, as an adult you continue to learn and grow. With each step your physical body grew and your personality changed. Life is growth. Life is change. The next step is to mature beyond the restrictions of ego and allow the True Personality its expression on earth.
Your sense of identity will change. The way you see reality will be altered. Relationships will take on a new meaning. You will depart from the collective consciousness, even if it means standing alone, so you may look within your own soul and see the beauty of God's creation. By the spiritual power of the True Personality you will create a new existence. There will still be challenges and struggles. There will still be lessons to increase knowledge. But, with a greater awareness and with newfound abilities, you will meet the demands of earthly existence with a deeper understanding, an inner strength, and a love that cannot be diminished.
The True Personality is God's glorious moment of creativity in which you where formed. It is the True Personality, bright and glorious, which will exist forever when all else has vanished. Though hidden by fear and doubt, though concealed by ambition and striving, though darkened by sorrow and pain, the True Self remains untainted.
Look within. Acknowledge you are an expression of God, worthy of life, generous in love, eternal in nature and creative beyond imagination. Let go of the ego and its obsessions with the body. Let your spiritual nature protect and guide you. Let your True Personality emerge. It is the light Jesus spoke of, the light kept hidden beneath the bushel.
Let it be revealed.
Reprinted with permission of the author. ©2000, 2003.
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About the Author
Vincent Cole is a wandering monk who has been facilitating prayer and meditation groups, as well as Women Healing Circles for the past 15 years throughout the United States. While on a personal yearlong retreat in the desert outside Tucson, AZ, Brother Vincent took a collection of channeled messages given to a small prayer group many years ago, and edited them into the book "The Next Step in Evolution -- a personal guide."