Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Ego & The Gateway of Knowledge: Preliminary Notes

Your inflated ego is quick to recognize the errors of other’s inflated egos. The desire to be right or righteous and to correct the errors of others is the first barrier to gnosis. You will never enter the gate of knowledge if you walk around puffed up full of self importance like a fat man at an all you can eat buffet. The world has enough experts and it takes very little awareness to recognize the tragedies that their expertise has wrought. Before you can enter the gate of knowledge you must give up any desire to be knowledgeable, which is to say, an expert, and along with it the desire to be a teacher. A true teacher is never self-appointed nor are they given to idle pontification.

Every student of esotericism has heard the saying, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” Don’t doubt that this is true. The sage who has real knowledge to offer does not advertise or send missionaries in his or her name with proclamations of good news. The evangelical is entirely of the world of the ego. The sage does not sell books or seminars or establish churches and temples. I cannot tell you were the sage dwells – no one can. The sage will appear only when the student is ready. The time of preparation has no set length and it can not be rushed. Only when the student has eyes to see and ears to hear will they ever be ready. The inflated ego cannot see the hidden world of the sage. When you walk among lions you must be prepared to be eaten.


The ego gets a bad rap in our society. The problem is the general public’s lack of understanding of psychology beyond the popular drivel being pedaled furiously by the media and their pet shrinks. The other part is due to errors of interpretation when westernizing the philosophical concepts of the east. When speaking “gnostically” of the ego we generally describe two states; ego expansion and ego inflation. Terms such as Gnostic, ego, consciousness and others are so common place in our post modern spiritual world that we fail to see that they can be used in a myriad of different ways. If we first do not come to some agreement as to what the terms we will be using mean, we will end up having two separate conversations or worse. Indeed, terms, such as ego, come to us straight from the history of western psychology and, in many ways, means something quite apart from how we often use it in our Gnostic experimentation.

The ego itself is not the problem, per se. It is nothing more than a vehicle for consciousness that we use to maneuver through reality. The ego shields us from the transpersonal “stuff” or “data” that if, unprotected from, would overwhelm us to the point of stark raving insanity. As Sufi teacher Idries Shah observed, “Enlightenment must come little by little, otherwise it would overwhelm.”

The trick is to understand what a healthy ego is and to work toward developing that. This is the Gnostics primary occupation while waiting for the sage to appear. An inflated ego is easy to recognize. These are the experts who litter our pathway with their refuse. The self-appointed teachers and others whose will to power put them in a place of influence in our lives.

Priests, ministers, teachers and politicians have a place in our society. As do the captains of industry and finance. But, generally these professions are attractive to those with inflated egos. In the end they will do more harm than good. They are often just ideologues who believe their worldview holds the solution to our problems. Sadly, they would often rather fight about ideals then resolve problems.

Contemplate the first line of this small essay: Your inflated ego is quick to recognize the errors of other’s inflated egos. The desire to be right or righteous and to correct the errors of others is the first barrier to gnosis. Listen to the debates raging on around us and you might see what we mean. No lasting solutions can be found because we are still living from the same mindset that created them. Solutions require a new mode of seeing things. Insanity can only be cured by clarity.

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