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May 15, 2008, Volume 16 Nr. 10, Issue 241

Spirituality: The Ego Clamoring For Attention

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

During philosophical musings and banter after a guest lecture by a local esteemed colleague in higher education, I heard the statement, "When I am on my deathbed I am going to pray".  It came in response to my comment that the mythology of god fuels the creation of disciplines that are themselves myths.  One can study theology and even become an expert in the field but one would be no closer to knowing God nor spirituality as neither exist.  Robert Fugate, writing in "Why Should I Study Theology" in The Christian Statesmen states, "Theology is the study of the personal, triune God--His nature and His purposes, which He reveals through His words and His deeds."  Upon this mythical triangle stands the ego atop its house of cards ever eager to maintain its structure.  The ego succeeds only because it is good at building houses of cards and because we let it.

Nathaniel Brandon in his book "The Psychology of Romantic Love" posits that to participate in love as "passionate...and thoroughly appropriate to our times and grounded in our nature as human beings" that we must accept the fact of our ultimate aloneness.  No matter how big a family we may have, no matter how many friends or colleagues, we will ultimately be alone.  Either our friends, etc., will die first or we will.  I would go one step further than Brandon: to live a loving and peaceful life causing minimal damage to others we must accept the fact of our ultimate non-existence.  This means that we must do what the ego is designed not to.  We must accept the reality that the ego will cease to be and along with it, so will we.

Since our demise is assured, there is no point in carrying the infractions of others and resentment of them with us throughout life.  It is not necessary to self-inflict the delusion that we are going to move spiritually forward into some realm or plane of future existence.  Such delusion becomes necessity when the ego demands it!  There is, however, no need to embrace this nebulous "spiritual " continuance except for the ego's gratification, that it can somehow escape death.  It cannot.  And neither can we.  

The poet John Donne (1572 - 1631) in his poem "Death Be Nor Proud", wrote,

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Donne defeats death by dying, yet he falls prey to the ego delusion that "he" will continue "eternally" when the time comes to take "one short sleepe past".  On the contrary, there is no short step to take.  I modify John Donne thusly, in my poem, "Ego Be Not Smug",

Ego be not smug, though some have said you are
All powerful and mighty, for you are not,
For the one thing that you think you must control,
Is free, miserable ego, nor can you continue to delude.
From perpetual existence, which are but your delusions,
Much anxiety and fear, from you must come.
And our best and most powerful humans with you go,
Fighting in wars, and superior to others, better.
You are slave to what ultimately follows all men.
No matter how the physical body takes it final rest,
And better than anything you had to offer, one final step
Is all that forever more there is, and you
The ego shall be no more; you shall disappear.

If as Carl Jung put it, the goal of life is to realize the self, then the goal of the ego is to continue living forever.  While nonsense, the attraction to the delusion is the causes for the invention of God, the soul and eternal life.  

Most people and their egos operate under automatic pilot, but the ego only lets go of constantly surveiling and assessing its (and our) positions when we are asleep.  Our predilection to spirituality is a symptom of the ego's vigilance. And unconscious attention to our spirituality is an indication of how successful is the ego.  Yet when we knowingly call upon spirituality aware of the absurdity of our actions, there comes into play the corruption of the ego and our thought out willingness to partner with it for personal gain and/or aggrandizement.  

Obama: Ego On Display

Toward the end of the Democratic Party 2008 presidential primary race candidate Barak Obama made numerous declarations about his doing "God's will".  A Kentucky primary Obama campaign flyer stated, "“My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work.”  There are a few possible conclusions.  Either Barak Obama talks to the Lord and the headmaster of the universe has told him what his will is, or Obama is manipulating the gullible for their votes.  Either way, the ego is busy at work   

Obama, like most people, suffers from the egotistical delusion that he knows the will of God and is altering his behavior into meeting God's expectations.  Far from communing with God to do "His" will, Obama is in collusion with his ego to catapult his own will into being God's will.  Obama's goals become his egos projected goals upon the concept of God so that a manufactured deistic mandate gets handed down to him.  Such circular shenanigans is the only way Obama can get away with doing his ego-as-God's bidding without the contradiction of self-recognizing the insanity of it.  The ego excels in slight-of-mind being a master of conjuring and illusion to suit its needs.  Both the ego and God are three letter words for the same thing.

Even worse, Obama deliberately uses spirituality to manipulate the voting public's similar ego delusions of it. There is dishonesty in premeditatingly  using spirituality to gain votes.  The ego continues the charade that Obama by virtue of his (ego) relationship to God demands special attention and is worthy of excessive, extraordinary or special attention.  If spirituality didn't exist then the ego would have to invent it.  And this is precisely the point.  The ego does invent it.  Since all humans have egos, Obama included, we have the same tendencies, the same delusion that spirituality is anything other than the ego calling attention to itself.

The ego is so sophisticated that it easily masquerades as the self deciding to drop it (the ego) in favor of spirituality.  Ego, being a self image of who we are, is anything and everything it wants itself to be.  The ego is formless but it creates the form that it projects outward, the self that it wants the world (and us) to perceive and accept.  Spirituality is but one such projection.  It is the noise of the ego covering up the process by which it operates.  Upon this noise are built the nonsense constructs we call mysticism, God, religion, etc.  These identities of self-interest "justify" our behavior.  Ego-justification, or self-interest, is a necessary component of survival.  Survival entails self-interest which entails the ego.  As long as we survive we will hear the clamoring noise of the ego and spirituality is one of the noises the ego generates.  Nothing more.

So then, on my death bed I will not be praying.  Given the ability to think clearly I hope to be able to instead say, "It's been one grand ride. Thank you everybody."  I plan to have in place, if I may borrow the idea from the unwieldy tome, A Course in Miracles, the forgiveness of everyone and anyone for my false perceptions that they have aggrieved me in any way.  We humans, in living and dying, spend so much time contemplating the so-called spiritual and the mythology of God, both projections of the ego, that we neglect the people around us.  That is what the ego always wants, however, that in the relationship between it and everything else, it has center stage.  Nothing holds that center stage stronger than the concept that the God has a special relationship with the ego in the universe.  Being chosen by God is the basis of many world religions.  The ego inventing spirituality is that which fundamentally creates the basis.  Spirituality, like God, are nonsense.

Transcending Ego
Don Iannone

Into my life you staggered
like some teetering drunk in the night
I fed you, gave you a place to rest
Eventually we became friends, then lovers

I loved you, almost as much as I love myself
This love’s ended, but you’re still here–
parading about naked in broad daylight
Even worse, lurking about as a ghost in my dreams

I built you up, you tore me down
I gave you my best, always you demanded more
I drew up separation agreements, time and time again
You never signed any of them

Why are you still here?
There’s nothing left to give you, or myself
What can I give you
that will make you go away, forever?

Even your silence draws life out of me
There is no peace as long as you’re here
No peace until I forget your name
No living until you’re dead

Not even death can extricate me
from your insatiable wantings
For somehow, you’ve embedded yourself
even in my own dark death wish

Beware, for I shall be watching you
as I sit in motionless silence
Without thinking, without doing
Watching you pass away into emptiness

©2008 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD  (except Transcending Ego)

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