Enlightenment requires your ability to discern between your ego story and your Unique Self story. Your separate-self egoic personality has needs. It wants to make itself feel secure. So your ego tells you a story about yourself that makes you feel safe, valuable, and worthy. The inability to feel safe, valuable, and worthy is a devastating experience for the ego, one it will ward off at virtually all costs. So the ego hijacks everything that happens to you, and everything that you do, into a story about its own goodness, value, and worth.
The ego has a simple if ingenious mechanism for doing this. It disguises its ambition, its drive for power, or its insecure grasping, and converts them into narrative material that supports its own positive self-image. This is how the separate-self ego story develops. It is this story that teachers of True Self correctly tell you to leave behind when they say, “To be enlightened, you must let go of your story.”
One of the places in which you can see with naked clarity the mechanisms deployed by the ego to disguise its primal needs and present them as a “good story” is your dream life. To move beyond the ego’s story, you must be able to look at the story from the outside. You must wake up and identify the true root cause of your experience in the dream that has been disguised by the ego as story.
One simple example, which highlights the hidden dynamics of the ego’s deceptive narrative, occurs when you awaken from a dream, and you realize that its elaborate story, which climaxes in you urinating, is really the ego’s story. The literary ego weaves a narrative tapestry when really what is happening is that you just need to urinate. That is a great relief and a great realization.
This is an essential part of the process of enlightenment or awakening. What you are essentially doing is dis-identifying with your story or perspective, and then taking a perspective on your perspective. You are letting your story become an object, so that you can see it and understand the root motivations and dynamics that are really at play in your story. When that happens, there is space for your more authentic story to arise, which reflects not the grasping of the separate-self ego, but the utterly resplendent uniqueness of your Unique Self. This is your Unique Self story.
Ego goes to a party and says, “What can I get out of it to bolster my own sense of power and narcissism?”
Unique Self goes to party and says, “What gifts can I give? What can I illuminate? And I will be filled with delight.”
Ego story says, “I need to be a doctor so that my father will love me as much as my brother who is a doctor.”
Unique Self story says, “Let me find the place of my greatest resonance and live in authenticity from that place, which may well compel me to study the healing arts and …”
From “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber to Laura Wingfield’s character in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, stories abound in literature featuring characters trapped or lost in the loneliness and isolation of their ego stories. In some ways, the story of literature is the story of moving from ego story to Unique Self story, both for the authors and the characters on their individual quests.
Consider this poem by contemporary poet and storyteller, William Stafford:
A Story That Could Be True
by William Stafford
If you were exchanged in the cradle and
your real mother died
without ever telling the story
then no one knows your name
and somewhere in the world
your father is lost and needs you
but you are far away.
He can never find
how true you are, how ready.
When the great wind comes
and the robberies of the rain
you stand on the corner shivering.
The people who go by–
you wonder at their calm.
They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”–
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.”
from Going Over to Your Place: Poems for Each Other
The ego story in the poem above is the grasping for any shred of identity, desperately sought from deep inside confusion. The Unique Self story running throughout the poem above, however, is alluded to by the narrator who knows that the answer during the search, no matter how bleak the situation may seem, is that “I am a King.”
Consider these questions also:
Do you confuse Unique Self story and ego story?
How can you recognize the distinctions between them?
What are the unique particle (calling) and wave (flow of events and emotions in your experience) aspects of your Unique Self story?
Embracing and discerning the outlines of your Unique story is critical. When your separate self story becomes object, you allow “space for your more authentic story to arise, which reflects not the grasping of the separate-self ego, but the utterly resplendent uniqueness of your Unique Self” as Dr. Marc says. Loneliness, as Marc Gafni teaches, is, at its root, an inability to share your essence, your story, your Unique Self with another.
For more on how your Unique story, or sippur in Hebrew, can be understood in its wave and particle form, or in its masculine and feminine poles, which include both your particular Unique calling and the flow of your Unique radiance, view this article (link to .pdf file), which was originally published in Tikkun Magazine in 2001 and is now available for download here (.pdf) and from uniqueself.com.
Also, take this invitation to begin moving beyond the alienation and loneliness of living from ego story instead of from Unique story by signing up for the free Awakening to Your Unique Self mini-course, now available online.
The free mini-course explores:
- Part I: Waking Up
- Part II: Your Unique Story
- Part III: Answering the Call
- Part IV: Video Q & A
Or, if you’re ready to go another step deeper with these teachings, sign up for the 10-week telecourse on Unique Self today. The telecourse begins April 24.