Paul Brunton's writings on the Ego: A Mystic's Journal by Laurie Conrad.
Image: Paul Brunton
Meditation Class: Continued Studies on The Ego: A Mysticís Journal Entry: April 7, 2007
Saturday, April 7
Last Wednesday night, in meditation class, we continued our study of Paul Bruntonís volume The Ego (The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume Six; Larson Publications).
Everyone read at least one quote in class, but for lack of time and space I have chosen only two for this Journal entry.
Chris read: Disattachment from the world is not necessarily withdrawing from it. Getting rid of the ego does not mean destroying its existence (for metaphysically it is non-existent, a whirlpool of water) but destroying its dominant power. This began a lengthy and interesting discussion: for one, we all need some percentage of ego in order to perceive the world. If the body is the vehicle for the soul in this earthly incarnation, then the body must be protected, cared for - including the ego. So to approach the spiritual Quest with a sledgehammer to the ego might work for some, but not for others. And for some this approach might only strengthens the ego, forces it to rise up more strongly. In this quote Paul Brunton gives us another option: to see the ego for what it truly is. In seeing clearly, we can weaken the egoís hold over us, its dominance.
Disattachment from the world is not necessarily withdrawing from it. This was another valuable sentence. My Teacher, Anthony Damiani, used to say "Life is our monastery." And so it is. To stay in the world and yet not be fooled by it, to be tested by it - can be more valuable than withdrawing from it. Although we agreed there are periods in our lives where withdrawal from the world can further our passage on the Quest, and there are also certain Destinies which dictate a full withdrawal from the world. But for most of us, this disattachment is an inner one. To be in the world but not of it. We also agreed that detachment, on the spiritual Path, is not unfeeling: in fact, if we are able to reach the higher Detachment, we feel more deeply, and we are able to see more Beauty in the world around us. When we have attained this Witness position of higher Detachment, we are less afraid to deeply feel or deeply experience. The egoís need to protect itself is transcended and so the soul itself can feel and experience purely, without the usual reserve and fears. Also, because we have found the inner haven of the soul, feelings no longer frighten us or intimidate us.
If we are fortunate enough to stand in the Higher octave of the personal emotions, in the Higher Emotions: then we will feel with a depth and a breadth we can not possibly even imagine. These Higher Emotions come from the soul Itself, and contain Divinity within them - they are infinite, immense. Our own small hearts cannot produce these Higher Emotions, they emanate from the spiritual Heart, where the soul and the Divine meet in us. Only meditation or deep prayer can bring us to this attainment, and it is the result of Grace. We can also ask that the Divine Love and Compassion, Mercy and Justice flow through us towards others.
I then asked the class what practices they use to reach this higher Detachment. They answered: 1. Listening to Gregorian chant or looking at something beautiful. 2. Even briefly clearing the mind of all thoughts. 3. Examining my reaction: then loving the world around me, seeing the beauty in a dandelion. 4. Taking the Witness position: trying to see everything and everyone in the picture, not just my own view and feelings. Trying to see myself and the scene from a distance, outside myself. Taking the Witness position. 5. In an emergency I close my eyes and do a mini meditation. 6. Trudy added that it is so difficult to remember to be detached: we want to explore the lower emotions, follow them to their conclusion. Wallowing in them is satisfying in the moment, but there is always a big price to pay. We all laughed and decided that remembering to stay detached is the first step to attaining detachment. I added that the real joy in a situation is giving up our thoughts and desires. Brunton once wrote that the joy we feel in receiving something we have desired is not in that we received or attained it - but rather that we let go of our desire for it. If we give up our thoughts on a subject, we can feel the same relief and joy. 7. Compassion for the other person or persons; trying to see where they are standing. I am able to handle them better, it takes more work to get annoyed at them.
I added that the ego is all around us, expressing itself - not just in our physical head. Our thoughts determine our reality, determine our perception of reality.
We then discussed this sentence of Bruntonís: Everyone is already practicing devotion to his own ego; he loves and surrenders to it. I personally found this statement to be both profound and true - and it brought a deep Compassion for all beings of this earth and universe. Bruntonís statement would apply to every Kingdom and species of being on this earth. For even though the amoeba might not possess thought - in its basic instinct for survival there would exist ego. Just as Divinity can be found in every speck of dust, in every atom and being - so can this innate and sometimes overpowering devotion to physical reality be found. Chris said that the ego blocks our true sight and colors everything, and we all had to agree. J. mentioned that she was working on overcoming her defensiveness; the class answered that even recognizing the problem was a big first step towards the cure. M. said the ego fights for its own survival, it canít possibly take responsibility for its own mistakes; it has to put the blame somewhere else, onto others. T. said that when you live alone suddenly there is nowhere else to put the blame, and what a shock that can be. Someone else suggested saying inwardly: "This is only the ego defending itself. Stand back and calm down." I found all these comments good and useful. I added that if we think of the world as "me and them" then in a difficult situation the ego will defend itself, polarize the situation. I gave the class an exercise to try:
I asked them to close their eyes and image a connection to all other souls on this earth, image and feel their soul connecting to all other souls. They agreed that they found a deep peace. Then I asked them to think about a difficult situation they were in or had experienced in the past, and then do this same exercise. When we do this practice, we do not feel alone, and a Peace comes in - because we are actually contacting our own soul.