One of the things that one hears a lot these days is the question, “Is everyone comfortable with this?” Comfort in life, however, is not the ultimate goal. In fact, I still remember the words of a spiritual mentor who said to me many years ago, “Comfort is the graveyard of the soul.” He was trying to let me know that authentic growth is painful and expensive.
Naturally, this message is not particularly appealing to the blissfully ignorant ego. So, according to the spiritual psychologist Ken Wilber, the ego finds lots of subtle ways to resist this process of growth. Let us take a look at some of the most common defenses that the ego throws up to defend itself from this unfoldment of the divine from within.
- Rationalization. We tell ourselves that spiritual consciousness is a delusion, a holdover from less sophisticated times. Religion and spirituality is the opium of the people. Not only is this emerging interest in the sacred a delusion, it is actually pathological. As we try to explain away the insanity of this inner call, we thus nip this emerging consciousness in the bud, retreating to our heads from our opening hearts.
- Isolation. If we are to take the emergence of this inner call seriously, we are going to need some guidance. At the very least, we need to have the humility to read about the path. That, however, is just the start. Eventually, we need to seek out the wisdom and guidance of those who have taken this path before us. This calls for some form of “community”, even if it is just “two or three who are gathered together.”
Our little ego, however, is afraid of such a move. It makes us feel too vulnerable, too weak, too dependent. Belonging to a group of seekers, any group, actually is a brave thing to do. We will be challenged, supported, brought into a deeper dimension of Truth, not despite this group, but through this group.
3.Fear of Death. There is an intuition deep within us all, that the discovery of a deeper truth will entail the “death” of the shallow, superficial part of ourselves. This surface dimension is not evil, but it is false, illusory. Our fears take over and we tell ourselves that, even though we may not be truly joyful or peaceful, at least we are “comfortable” (there is that word again!) with what we know. So we say to ourselves, “Thanks, but no thanks. I am going to stick with what is known , even if, deep down, I realize that it is not authentic for me at this time.”
4.Desacralizing. With this ego defense mechanism, whenever we feel the inner call, we try to make a joke out of the whole thing. We mock the nonsensical aspects of religion (of which there are plenty). As Shakespeare says, however, “Many a true word is spoken in jest.” The imperfect fumbling of so many on the spiritual path does not negate the reality to which they aspire. Laughing about the sacred does not eliminate its existence.
- Contraction. If we open ourselves up to this inner call for even a little bit, we sense that much will be required of us if we are to be true to ourselves. Since we are always more “comfortable” with what is known, our instinct is to run back to home base. Just try to make believe that we were on a fools journey. Embrace the shallowness of the known.
This little ego of ours is a real rascal, a real trickster.. It tries with all of its might and all of its guile to run away from the inner call to authenticity. But what is true is true, even if we try to say it is not.
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