This past week we discussed the reason that the ego is established. I mention how in reality there is nothing but space, complete openness, a complete lack of separation. The whole situation is vast, there is no point of reference, no other and therefore there is no self. In this situation there seems to be an infinite number of possibilities, and we really have no good idea of what is going on or how we fit into the picture. We are confused, and out of this confusion ego is birthed. Because there is confusion there is bewilderment. We are afraid, and in order to subdue our fear we look for understanding. All of this anxiety arises from not knowing what in the hell is happening, so we look to explain it. The only problem is that the “it” in this case is ourselves, and we can not have any real understanding of ourselves without first finding some point of reference. So we enter into relationship with other, or maybe it would be better if we said took other hostage. We attach ourselves to other, and once we have made it solid our idea of self, the ego, arises simultaneously. Self and other are interdependent terms, opposite sides of the same coin really, you can not have one with out the other. So ego or self arises as we solidify other, as we create solid ground. So how do we create this solid ground? That is the point of tonight’s discussion.
Ego is a dualistic term which arises not of its own volition, rather out of dependence upon it’s opposite, the other. So by freezing the moment, making it into some solid experience of “other” we establish “self” simultaneously. Once we freeze experience, we have established the object of experience & that which had the experience, subject & object. In order to do this we go through five stages.
The first of these stages is known as form. Here we find something else, anything “other than”, and we begin to cling to it. We hang on to it, put it in our pocket, take it hostage. The other could be something as subtle as a thought and as obvious as another person. The big thing here is we have made distinction, there is now the division of self and other. We have drawn lines in the sand. Thomas Merton once said, “When you look at earth from outer space there is no distinction to be made between states and countries. The lines which separate us are imputed and not really there.” In reality our every day experience is the same way, there is no distinction to be made in suchness. However in this first step we make such a distinction, drawing a line in between us and everything else.
The second stage is sensation. Since there is “other” there is now relationship. Once there is relationship there must be interaction. If there is interaction it would follow that there is sensation, or feeling. At this point the sensation is just that, a sensation. Currently the sensation is free of discernment, free of the good and bad. It is just pure energy right now, completely raw, simply the result of seperation.
The next stage is perception and here we begin to investigate the interaction or sensation. We start to compare the sensation to our expectations. Can I use this to my benefit? Is this going to cause me trouble? What is going on? If it met our expectations then it is good, if it fails our expectations then it is bad, and if we remain confused as to it’s effect we simply become indifferent. As we reach these conclusions of good, bad, and indifferent, there is an impulse that goes along with them. When things are perceived as good we cling to them, when they are perceived as negative we push them away, and when we are confused we simply act uninterested like we couldn‘t be bothered. Here we begin looking on the other side of the line considering how what they have affects us, and acting accordingly. At this point it has been reduced to you are either with me or against me.
Next we really apply the mold to our experience. This stage is called label and this is where things begin to receive the permanent characteristics we attribute to them. Now we start to pigeon hole everything into categories; friend, girlfriend, husband, boss, enemy, whatever. This is what defines this particular thing in our eyes. Concept maybe a better word here than label, because concept is a word that expresses an idea. We construct our conceptual framework out of different expectations. For example maybe it is with our friend. We think a friend should answer the phone when we call, entertain us when we are bored, and enjoy similar things as we do. We have several different expectations, and we bring them together to create the cage or the concept friend, ally, enemy, or whatever. Then we shove whoever we can into our little conceptual cage.
The final stage is where we start maintenance, or our occupation. We have established our conceptual cage and managed to cram someone inside it. Now we have to keep them there, and this is the fifth stage consciousness. There is an awful lot of energy spent trying to maintain the ground we have already conquered. After we establish some new territory there is an occupation, and in order for the occupation to go well there are number of things that must happen. First we have to keep our reference point, our hostage from rebelling. They must stay in their cage, so we develop somewhat of a paranoia, a radar. When we begin to detect something is wrong, like the bird is getting ready to leave it’s cage we begin to manage the situation. Sometimes we have to be nice, and others we have to be mean. In order to keep that bird happy we may buy a diamond ring or scream and curse, but interestingly enough both for the exact same reason. We are only concerned with maintaining our already established ground, and we are willing to be just as sweet as we can be or act like a crazy raging lunatic, whatever the case demands. There are a ridiculous number of techniques we can use in order to accomplish this task, but most all of them can be put into 1 of 6 categories called the six realms.