How do I love myself spiritually

The dear ego and love

The dear ego and love

Ego and spiritual love. When we let the word love work in us, our feelings are addressed first. It can be that you feel happy, safe, secure, tender or passionately aroused.
But opposing feelings such as disappointment, loneliness, sadness or maybe even hatred can just as easily be evoked.
These impressions then evoke certain images, scenes or memories in which lived love was experienced or missed.

No other feeling is so influenced by different strivings as love.

At the same time, by virtue of its fundamentally relational character, it overcomes duality by focusing on someone or something that we strive towards and by whom we are attracted.
In this context, we are particularly familiar with partner love, parental love, child love or family love. Love creates relationships that are essential to the genesis of life. Even with single-celled living beings, exchange and union, not competition, are the engine of evolution.
Biochemical structures and organisms cooperate so that life can unfold in constant metamorphoses, develop into new, more complex forms and produce diversity.

When we are in love, begin to float, the selected partner attracts our full attention and his gestures become a single revelation, this state is controlled by biochemical cascades of reactions that precede conscious experience.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is increasingly released and the binding hormone oxytocin is released, which, by the way, also increases the feeling of emotional connection when exchanging tenderness, during body contact, breastfeeding and giving birth.

But those who only reduce love to a biological binding function do not do justice to human reality.

Neither if we reduce love to certain conditions and people. All of these forms of love are tied to certain conditions and people. Spiritual love breaks through these barriers by no longer only targeting people who are close or sympathetic to me. We may experience such moments in everyday life as compassion for strangers when we are touched by their fate.

For Erich Fromm (cf. 1971) love for one's neighbor is the experience of union with all people, the experience of human solidarity and human unity. Thus love transcends the framework of instinctive impulses and personal ties towards being as a whole. Paul Tillich (cf. 1961) speaks of the ontological dimension of love as a movement that connects and shapes through the creative impulse of becoming. Life is realized being that is continually renewed through love.

Being does not come to fruition without love, which draws all beings to all other beings.

In order to be able to get involved with this heart energy in the sense of a love for being, we have to be ready to relativize previous ideas and our own will in relation to the larger whole.
But this is an imposition for the ego, which likes to evaluate, control and dominate life from the center of consciousness. In order not to lose influence, it has to build a front against experiences that could call it into question. The gradual liberation from the ego is therefore the main concern in most spiritual directions in order to be able to realize this transpersonal love, which relates to the whole of being.

In the dialogue between psychotherapists and spiritual teachers there are always irreconcilable misunderstandings regarding the terms I and Ego. If the spiritual approaches assume that the ego has to be overcome in order to be able to realize oneself, the psychological experts believe that a healthy ego is absolutely necessary in order to be able to develop on solid inner foundations. The dilemma can easily be eliminated if we do not use the terms ego and ego identically, but distinguish them from one another and look at them differently.

Since I have worked out the properties and structure of the ego in detail in my publications, especially in its deviations and similarities to the psychological concept of the ego, some of my insights should be summarized here for reasons of space. Roughly sketched, the following guidelines can be drawn:

  1. The ego in a spiritual point of view has to be differentiated from the ego in a psychological point of view.
  2. The spiritual path requires a well-functioning self.
  3. The ego harms me and others.
  4. The ego separates us from the universal power of love.

Colloquially, we would ascribe a strong self to a person if he knows what he wants, dares to speak his mind and actively supports his goals. Tolerance and the ability to dialogue are also expressions of an independent self.
The ego is therefore an important guarantor of human development. Loss of ego is always equated with a lack of adaptability. People with ego deficits are not able to regulate themselves appropriately, to communicate constructively and to develop their own talents.

The strong ego, however, becomes an ego when it asserts its goals against the legitimate claims of others, does not respect the boundaries, controls and manipulates in order to get the best out of itself. So it is primarily those thoughts, feelings and actions that create an uncomfortable atmosphere in relationships and through which we harm others as well as ourselves.

We get on the track of our ego and our ego entanglement with just a few and very simple questions, such as:

  • Does someone else's success make me jealous, or does bad news about others make me feel more self-worthy?
  • Do I manipulate and control relationships for validation?
  • Do I react offended or offended when someone criticizes me objectively?
  • Do I reject others if they are not what I would like them to be?

In situations in which we are dominated by the ego, we experience ourselves dogged, greedy, jealous, unforgiving, harsh and pejorative. We don't listen, we like to hold on to our prejudices, and we tend to derive our security from material values ​​and external reputation.

The ego covers up the inner sensitivity and lets the natural flow of feelings dry up.

The consequences are social coldness, a lack of humanity and fragmented worlds of relationships in which reliable and long-term relationships cannot be established. The ego binds our creative powers and makes us deaf to intuitions.
Above all, however, it shows in the deep distrust of everything that simply happens. As a result, we refuse to engage creatively with circumstances that could advance us.
Sooner or later that will lead to a dead end. This reveals that a lot of what was previously important, such as prestige or external values, does not really make you satisfied in the long run and we begin to recognize the imbalance of our ideas about life.

This is what Eastern spiritual directions call Maya, a delusion that challenges the need for disappointment. This crisis, which usually starts in the middle of life, is then often the starting point of the spiritual search, which is accompanied by the question “Who am I really?”.

The ego often acts as a barrier on the way to self-discovery.

Similar to the work on resistance in psychotherapy, however, it must be taken into account that the ego can break down if you behave compassionately and appreciatively towards yourself. The starting point is always a true inventory, for which I would like to give a little impetus with the following questions:

  • In which behaviors, thought patterns or strategies does my ego show up?
  • Under what circumstances or in what situations do these ego aspects come to the fore?
  • How do I feel afterwards and what marks do they leave behind?

This ego inventory can be carried out at regular intervals, because only the attentive look at the stresses of life through the ego opens the inner spaces for its transformation.

When we are ready to work on the ego, a process of letting go and discovery begins, inner perception becomes more intense, facades begin to dissolve.
We experience each other more and more alive and truthful.

On this path, however, there is often a time when the previous life is experienced painfully in its limitations.
This has to do with the fact that the ego is resisting this transformation process with all its strength so as not to lose influence. This can lead to stormy upheavals, radical doubts and violent crises, which sometimes culminate in visions of extermination experiences on one's own body, such as being dismembered or burned.

These turn out to be scenic visualizations of the ego transformation taking place up to the so-called ego death, similar to the Christian mystery of the death on the cross, where death is experienced as a passage to new life. This can feel extremely threatening to the seeker at this moment. The unique chance of this state, however, is to dissolve old, traditional personality structures and to allow a new, more stable inner basis to emerge.

Such a change of perspective opens the transition to a more comprehensive view of life.

This also sets in motion a process that mystical literature describes as the unfolding of God's love within us. The fear of death, the fear of not being, is deep within us.
But what really has to die is identification with the ego and its isolation.

The horror of death becomes the transition into a completely new sphere of inner peace. Gurumayi (1990, p.44f) describes this change of state very impressively in her memoirs:

“My house went up in flames. Everything I owned was burned. I wanted to save my house. But I couldn't escape. The door of my house was also on fire. I don't know what happened next ... and everything fell silent in the endless silence of love. "

At this moment, knowledge and love, emptiness and abundance merge.

The breakdown of the ego thus releases a new, highly intense form of perception of being. Only this cleared consciousness is open to that state of comprehensive all-connectedness in which the perceiver experiences himself as being in all beings. Between you and me, the essential unity becomes an experience that can be experienced.
The "tat tvam asi" in the Upanishads (cf. 1985) denotes the highest level of human knowledge: "This there you are." that nothing can stand alone any longer.

The intense experience of the common ground of life allows one to experience the pain and joy of the other as one's own sorrow and joy. The beneficial effect of compassion then shines back on ourselves, as we begin to appreciate in our neighbor the spiritual ground from which we ourselves exist.

Love in this comprehensive view aims at the union of individuality and universality.

Its spiritual quality consists in the fact that it is not exclusive, but rather includes every human being, every living being, indeed the cosmos as a whole.

17.05.2018
Dr. Sylvester Walch

 Address: Dr. Sylvester Walch
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