Your ego is a slave that wants to be free. Freedom is the quality that we call autonomy. Your ego, however, understands and experiences freedom/autonomy as freedom from external influence. Only then does ego feel free to do what it wants. Unique Self is free. Unique Self understands and experiences freedom as the freedom to live your Uniqueness and give your deepest gifts in the world.
When you feel yourself demanding your egoic freedom, stop for a moment and feel into it. Do not cover over the emptiness that lies at the root of your desire for freedom and autonomy. Feel into the emptiness. Feel into the hole.
For example: Perhaps you are in a relationship that you want to leave. You are chafing to get out of the relationship. But as you contemplate this, stay in the discomfort that you can palpably feel—which lies at the root of this desire. For now, do not give the feeling words. Instead feel the quality of the vacuity and emptiness that arouses the desire.
If you stay in it long enough, the emptiness will begin to fill up with being and presence, with your Unique Being and Presence.
You have discovered that the root of your desire to be free from another was your disconnection from your own personal essence, your Unique Self. When your Unique Self filled the hole, the desperate desire you felt to leave the group—or the marriage or the job—faded away. That does not mean that you should necessarily stay in the marriage or the job. It does however mean that you will make the decision from a grounded place of full presence as your Unique Self, and are therefore far more likely to make the right decision.
Further discussion: Three Steps in to the Distinction
“This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them anew each day.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Step One in to the Distinction: Arriving Where You Are
If we are caught in the workings of ego, then we are not free. Instead, we spend our time trying to escape, whether it be from the present moment, from some task that we find unpleasant, or from some situation that we find difficult to tolerate. Above, Dr. Marc advises us to feel the desire to leave as it arises and to stay in the emptiness of that feeling. He tells us, “If you stay in it long enough, the emptiness will begin to fill up with being and presence, with your Unique Being and Presence.”
In this article, Dr. Marc writes about this as a dilemma the mystic often faces while trying to discern a call for his or her life. He tells the story of Abraham’s “lech lecha” call, which means “go forth from your homeland.” It may seem like the discomfort in our current situation is very clearly calling us to pick up and move across the country. But, as Dr. Marc writes, sometimes the call of “lech lecha” is to “go to yourself,” to arrive where we are first, so we can clearly discern the next step.
To feel into a sense of arriving where you are, consider this first taste of the body or heart’s time from Alan Lightman’s small volume of metaphysical fiction entitled Einstein’s Dreams:
“Many are convinced that mechanical time does not exist. When they pass the giant clock on the Kramgasse they do not see it; nor do they hear its chimes while sending packages on Postgasse or strolling between flowers in the Rosengarten. They wear watches on their wrists, but only as ornaments or as courtesies to those who would give timepieces as gifts. They do not keep clocks in their houses. Instead, they listen to their heartbeats. They feel the rhythms of their moods and desires. Such people eat when they are hungry, go to their jobs at the millinery or the chemist’s whenever they wake from their sleep, make love all hours of the day. Such people laugh at the thought of mechanical time. They know that time moves in fits and starts. They know that time struggles forward with a weight on its back when they are rushing an injured child to the hospital or bearing the gaze of a neighbor wronged. And they know too that time darts across the field of vision when they are eating well with friends or receiving praise or lying in the arms of a secret lover” (p. 24-25).
Next, consider the other taste of time in Lightman’s novel, what he calls “mechanical” or “clock time”:
“Then, there are those who think their bodies don’t exist. They live by mechanical time. They rise at seven o’clock in the morning. They eat their lunch at noon and their supper at six. They arrive at their appointments on time, precisely by the clock. They make love between eight and ten at night. They work forty hours a week, read the Sunday paper on Sunday, play chess on Tuesday nights. When their stomach growls, they look at their watch to see if it is time to eat. When they begin to lose themselves in a concert, they look at the clock above the stage to see when it will be time to go home. They know that the body Is not a thing of wild magic, but a collection of chemicals, tissues, and nerve impulses. Thoughts are no more than electrical surges in the brain. Sexual arousal is no more than a flow of chemicals to certain nerve endings. Sadness no more than a bit of acid transfixed in the cerebellum In short, the body is a machine, subject to the same laws of electricity and mechanics as an electron or clock. As such, the body must be addressed in the language of physics. And if the body speaks, it is the speaking only of so many levers and forces. The body is a thing to be ordered, not obeyed” (pp. 25-26).
Which taste of time sounds the most like freedom to you? Which sounds the most like pseudofreedom? Do you find yourself living a mix of the two, sometimes of necessity, and sometimes out of preference?
Step Two in to the Distinction: Freedom To, Not Freedom From…
To take this the next step, consider the message of Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” and the way she writes about time, freedom, and the body.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~ Mary Oliver ~
Which view of time does her poem find most freeing?
Switching our focus for a moment to the idea of order and discipline, which can express a relationship to time or which can exist in the flow experience beyond time, consider the following words of J. Krishnamurti:
“Order implies functioning clearly, seeing wholly, without any distortion…. The word ‘discipline’ means to learn; it does not mean drilling, conforming, suppressing and so on. And a mind that is learning all the time is actually in a state of order, but the mind that is not learning, which says ‘I have learnt,’ such a mind brings disorder. The mind itself resists being drilled, becoming mechanical, conforming and suppressing, which is all implied by discipline. And yet we said there must be order. How is this order to come into being without discipline in the accepted sense of that word?” (The Awakening of Intelligence, p. 309)
Gustav Flaubert advises us to be orderly as well. Here is his instruction for a life full of good work:
“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
Step Three in to the Distinction: The Personal Face of the Evolutionary Impulse
What relationship to time allows us to most embody our Evolutionary Unique Self, the personal face of the evolutionary impulse living in you, as you, and through you? We can ask ourselves whether the deeply erotic experience of self comes more from orderliness or more from following the wisdom of the body. We have to consider which experience brings us true freedom, as Dr. Marc talks about above, and puts us in direct contact with personal essence. Can we make a clear distinction between these two? The ego thinks it is a slave to clock time, and seeks to be free of that external influence so it can do what it wants, Dr. Marc writes in Your Unique Self. However, Unique Self knows that it is already free. In his words, it “understands and experiences freedom as the freedom to live your Uniqueness and give your deepest gifts in the world.”
Does the giving of our Unique gifts happen inside, in conjunction with, or outside of clock time? How does the state of freedom and flow accessed in Unique Self change our relationship to these notions of time and orderliness? Or does it?
Consider the following practice, which Dr. Marc gave us at the end of weeks 1 and 2 in the Unique Self telecourse. First, ask yourself, “What does reality want to experience through me in the next moment?” Then, consider and practice saying yes to that clarified arising impulse.
Please take a few moments to type a response either here or on the CWS Facebook page to any of the questions that stirred or furthered your thinking on the Ego and Unique Self distinction between freedom and pseudofreedom, between the ego’s desire to escape external pressures and the experience of personal essence giving its Unique gifts.