From “Concept-bury” to “Experience-ville”: how to understand the true self, the ego, clear consciousness and oneness. The role of space in a human life.
Bits and pieces from “The Crack”:
Life manifests itself through us. Like electricity getting through different types of lamps in order to create a variety of lights. We are all different individuals; each of us is unique. But we are all hooked to the electricity of Life. In that, we are all the same. We are all lamps. Some are fancy chandeliers, elaborate constructions of crystal. Others are simple one-bulb lamps. Whatever our parts, if we know them and we accept them with their strengths and weaknesses alike, relaxation appears within us. Through relaxation, space gets created. Then, Life flows in and fills up that space with its electricity. The result is light. When there is space within, the human being shines light. Life can flow through us when we have space within and it can illuminate our existence. In that interaction our true self gets revealed.
The true self is always there within and behind each of our parts, the shiny and the dark, the pretty and the ugly, the strong and the broken. But the true self can only manifest when we have space within. It is then that we can enjoy the flow of Life’s electricity and the resulting light. So, there is no switch to turn on and off. We cannot “make” light. Light is the result of Life’s interaction with us when we are in a state of awareness in which we create space. That is why we cannot “achieve” or “catch” the true self. We cannot put a finger on it or locate it with precision. We can only experience it when this beautiful exchange between Life and the human beings who we are, happens. This arrangement may come as a disappointment, but you can also see it as a relief. It is OK that the true self is not something we must find. In fact, it is masterfully designed what our task is: to assure that there is space in our being. When I truly understood that this is the point, the meaning of life, I felt both awe and relief.
Every day of our lives, we have the chance to create space for Life to flow in, and for clear consciousness to shine through the human beings who we are. Every activity we do, especially what we do best and what we like, are opportunities for the electricity of Life to light up the world through us. This is a subtle but substantial shift in perspective from “You have a life” to “Life shines through you”. In the former, you live under pressure: you must make something of yourself. You are alone, fighting and struggling for something that may or may not satisfy you. In the latter, your life has a clear purpose: you are meant to collaborate with Life. You create space, and then you can relax. The rest is up to Life. The responsibility is half; the pressure is close to null.
As I see it and teach in my book “The Crack” (currently at the publishers), we can function in two ways: through ego-dominance and through the true self. When we function through ego-dominance, what gets manifested are the layers of mind-conditioning that cover the clear consciousness in us. The cracks of our personalities are rough, dark and painful. Alternatively they can also be polished and boastful; however, there is no light shining through them like when we function through the true self (when there is space within us). In the absence of space, we live in the crowdedness of ego-dominance and the pressure can be suffocating. There is only vague light, and only ego-smarts instead of true wisdom. Or, worse: we are prisoners in the darkness of stupor, foolishly believing that the bliss of ignorance actually exists.
Functioning through the true self means that we create space inside our being and we collaborate with Life in meaningful ways. That’s how we can live the liberating experience of the true self and we can rest assured in the certainty and calm of clear consciousness.
The clear consciousness that is our essence is freed to come into manifestation when we create space within.
The method of consciousness development presented in “The Crack” holds the promise of creating space. Self-understanding and self-acceptance hold center stage in my method called “The 3M System”. The not-so-attractive and socially approved parts of our personalities deserve our attention. “The 3M System” promotes a more authentic way to be and a more honest human existence. How many times are you truly honest about what you think and how you feel? How many times are you suppressing your own truth to save the illusion of peace, to not rock the boat, or to protect your own illusion that you are loved? “The Crack” and “The 3M System” aim to help people transcend old patterns of relating and existing in which victims and martyrs are celebrated.
I do not believe there is virtue in self-denial. Rather, there is virtue in self-honesty. In admitting our weaknesses and humbly acknowledging that those too are parts of the human beings who we are. They are our cracks. They are our wounds. But they are also entrances for the light and the wisdom of clear consciousness.
Life manifests through us and acceptance of our parts makes it possible for Life to flow. Refusal of our parts blocks the flow of Life.
Remember this point next time you’re called an arrogant and instead of becoming defensive you might try admitting it. If arrogance is one of your cracks, so what? An arrogant in denial will cause damage; an aware arrogant will deliver proud contributions as Life flows through their being.
In the same line, embrace your crack of being a people-pleaser if that’s the case. A people-pleaser in denial will lash out passive-aggressively when the pressure of suppressing who they are becomes unbearable. An aware people-pleaser is relaxed while offering service as Life flows through their being.
Similarly, when your crack is victimization, if you’re unaware of this you will demand attention and terrorize your environment with your hysteric outbursts. However, as a human who is aware of their conditioning to take on the victim role, you will be empowered to stand up for yourself without judging others and most importantly, you will bring compassion in your interactions as Life flows through your being.
Whatever your crack is, embrace it and learn to like it. Love yourself for your weaknesses as much as you approve of yourself for your strengths.
It all begins with becoming aware of your parts.
What makes a house? The walls of the building or the space contained within those walls? Which are more important? And is it necessary at all to choose? Similarly we can ask, what makes a human being? The body, the mind, the different parts of the personality, the actions, the possessions, the name, or the clear consciousness underneath the layers of mind-conditioning? Perhaps the true self that is freed when there is space between the different parts? Which are more important? And is it necessary at all to choose?
As I said, I do not consider self-denial a virtue; those who preach it, likely misunderstood Jesus. Rather than self-denial, Jesus encouraged self-honesty. He taught acceptance, love and forgiveness and he tried to explain that the true self of humans is related to the clear consciousness through which he pled on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”. (Luke 23:34). I love Jesus and I trust that Jesus loves me. My faith has given me comfort and strength my whole life. My bond with Jesus does not exclude my Buddhist beliefs. My connection to the Higher Powers allows me to have a broader view and more options. I am never alone. This connection always reminds me that the same energy which fueled Jesus’s miracles and the wisdom of the Buddhas is present within the human being who I am.
I repeat for the third time: there is no real benefit to self-denial. Oscar Wilde knew something when he said: “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself”. But make no confusion about it, I do not endorse decadence. Self-acceptance does not imply self-indulgence to the detriment of our own or others’ well-being.
Our task is to honor the human life we have by getting to know the human beings we are. We ought to accept the truth about ourselves, embrace our weaknesses, and love ourselves with all of our broken pieces.
Jesus tried to teach people about the need to balance their free will with the responsibility to figure themselves out, to understand Life and cooperate with it, but most of his students failed to understand him. A popular joke asks who can comprehend the true meaning of Jesus’ teachings and the punchline states: “probably a few Buddhists”.
Joke aside, unfortunately many people today feel lost, or spend their lives turning in circles, preaching self-denial and practicing judgement of self and others. Many human beings are disconnected, not only from the Higher Powers and from faith, but from their fellow humans and most sadly, from themselves too. Jean-Paul Sartre noted: “If you’re lonely when you are alone, you are in bad company”. Underneath the sarcastic self-judgement, this quote challenges you to be OK with yourself; to let yourself be entertained by self-discovery.
Loneliness is one of the most overlooked diseases of our times. The Covid crisis brought it to attention that people cannot be by themselves without suffering. Many cannot stand being alone while others are lonely next to the person with whom they share their closest relationship. If there is anything good resulting from the Covid crisis, it is a realization that we live in the age of awakening to a deeper meaning and a more honest existence, that we are invited to stop hiding behind facades and to start exercising the authentic living which begins with looking inwards, deeply, humbly and in spite of the associated fear.
The clear consciousness is the same in all humans, all beings and in nature too. We are all clear consciousness in different forms. There is clear consciousness in you, waiting for you to allow it to manifest through the human who you are.
When I see clear consciousness in you and you see clear consciousness in me, we recognize each other. We are the same. There is no separation, there is no judgement. We acknowledge the packaging is different, but what is underneath is the same.
Underneath the various layers of fears and delusions, every human is clear consciousness. When I see you as clear consciousness and you insist on sticking to the covering layers, the connection between us is damaged and Oneness suffers.
It is easier to connect with the clear consciousness in Kicsike — my cat and Yvi — my Border Collie. There are fewer covering layers and Oneness comes naturally. Humans often have thick layers covering the clear consciousness within. But there is clear consciousness even within the most annoying or vicious human. Recognizing it through the unappealing packaging is the art of living. Remembering it even when the face in front of you is asking for punches and your fists sizzle with desire to hit, is the art of being a conscious human being.
We are all in this together. We are all hungry for love and acceptance. The trick is that we need space within to feel them.
When I create space, I function through my true self. When I’m crowded inside with disturbing feelings and thoughts, with delusions of grandeur or inferiority, with limiting beliefs and judgement, I function through ego-dominance. “The 3M System” teaches that the ego is not our enemy, but we must be wary of ego-dominance.
“The 3M System” does not endorse the abolishment of the ego; it actually supports getting to know the specific aspects the ego takes in us, in much detail. The ego can be useful if it works for the welfare of the human being.
The more we learn about our ego, the better we get at guiding it and putting it in the service of our human life. On the other hand, ego-dominance is like an untrained puppy. Ignore training and you are faced with poop in unwanted places, destroyed shoes and lots of nervous barking. Eliminate ego-dominance and you are free to enjoy all the cuteness of the puppy. Besides the obvious benefits for you, the puppy himself is also happier when trained. Picture a puppy running after his tail or barking at thin air. That unhappy sight is ego-dominance.
The ego thinks that it wants to dominate, but actually it is happiest when its talents are used well while serving the human. Then it achieves its most coveted goal: assurance of its existence and its importance.
I live through my true self when I am aware of my different parts, of the specific manifestations of the ego in me, of my cracks, of my Observer-self, and when there is distance between the human being who I am and all of these. I experience myself as clear consciousness when I bathe in the space of those distances. Then, the human who I am guides my ego, and my decisions and actions are rooted in the wisdom of clear consciousness.
Differently, when we are conflicted, feel pressured or disturbed in any way, when we are unaware of our cracks or we reject them, space gets filled with crowdedness. Crowdedness can be the result of interactions or internal struggle. Either way, once space within us diminishes, we cannot experience ourselves as clear consciousness anymore because we cannot function, make decisions and act as our true selves. Then, the humans who we are cannot be the leaders of our puppy-dog egos, so the puppies will play boss and trouble will arise.
Knowing all this empowers me to help myself out of misery and unease. I have the solution. Whatever happens, creating space gets me out of trouble because it connects me to my true self. It is my key to living as clear consciousness and being connected to all in Oneness.
It is not easy to explain what the true self is because it is not something to understand but something to function by. When I focus on creating space then I function through my true self and I live as clear consciousness in human form. The more space I provide for Life to fill with its electricity in my being, the more wisdom-light shines through the human who I am. The more authentically I live, the better consequences follow from my choices and actions. Happiness is the by-product of all that. So the grand design of Life takes care of my happiness, while assuring that there is space within my being is my responsibility.
This is the great mystery about the meaning of life: when we assure space inside us, we interact with Life through the true self and clear consciousness is revealed. The pieces then fall into place, we are connected to all, and there is harmony.
Since I live this way, life is easier and I feel peace that the time I have is not wasted. Every moment of every day, whatever happens, are opportunities to be clear consciousness. Life is not random. Rather it is a preparation for death, in the sense that we have the time contained in our lives to understand who we are and why we live, so that we can meet the moment of our death in peace and contentment. Like when you go to sleep totally at ease because you have completed everything you needed to do during the day and all is fine as it is. You then let go in gratitude.