There always seems to be a strange kind of reality around ideas that exist as a form of paradox that breeds constant illusions as misunderstandings produced through incorrect interpretations. What’s commonly referred to as “shedding our ego”, or experiences that come as the “death” of the ego, can seem very misleading and often set us off on the wrong path, because they start off with an incorrect idea, and so all that comes from it is an expression of that same error. As higher spiritual beings with the power to self-create, we shape ourselves by whatever it is we “identify” with. Our identity, unlike our personality, is what gives us the potential for becoming “unique individuals” through conscious use of our higher capacities of self-realization, choice, and will.
The term ego and identity are synonymous and can be used interchangeably to describe the same principle. The only question becomes what it is that we use as the means for creating ourselves. When we shape our sense of self based on possessions, social standing, roles, relationships, physical appearance, job, and so on, we create ourselves out of a temporary, illusion oriented idea as what we call the “false ego” or false identity. When we create a false image of ourselves, we condemn ourselves to a mortal life that “dies” with the body and the social situation it was dependent on. If we use our material circumstances and the roles we play in order to know who we are, then we condemn our eternal soul to the confinement and limitations of the body and our soul becomes its servant.
Death of the False Ego
The “experience” of what we call the “death of the false ego” however, is a “life shattering” experience that’s very painful to endure and difficult to utilize for its liberating effects. When we not only lose our life-situation and social standing that we built our identity out of, but also our very means of security, it can cast us into a very dark place of unimaginable grief and hopelessness, often referred to as the “dark night of the soul”. As we fall into what seems like a bottomless pit of our own creation, a true transformation takes place, and it either does us in and we succumb to a new illusion of defeat that we build about ourselves in place of the old one, or we learn how to access a higher aspect of our self that we then use as the means for transforming ourselves. We either die in the flames of our own dissolution, never to rise again, or we rise from the ashes an entirely new being.
My Own Experience of Humility and Transformation
Even though I was born into a very impoverished situation as one of five children raised by a single mom on welfare, not having things was normal to me and I never used material things as the means of creating an image of myself. Instead I used my talents, intellect, special abilities, and willpower to succeed. Losing things never really affected me much because I didn’t have things to begin with. I was used to going without and only having what I barely needed in order to survive. I did however build an image of myself as being poor and impoverished and therefore inferior in some way, and knew I had to work extra hard in order to build a better life for myself than I was raised with.
As I went through life, I had constant life situations that required me to put everything I had at risk in order to “be there” for those I loved and who needed me. I incurred and dealt with many challenging situations where I lost everything I owned that was of any value, and I had to file bankruptcy on astronomical medical bills at a very young age. This only had a minimal effect on me at the time because I didn’t place much value on material things and knew I could make it without them. I had developed confidence in myself to be able to rebuild whatever was lost. When I was making decisions as to what I was going to do, I was very clear on what mattered and what didn’t, and so decisions came relatively easy for me.
As I went through life I was very successful in my career, became an Entrepreneur in my twenties, and built very prosperous businesses on several occasions. In my forties I helped build a business that became worth several million dollars, and was traveling the world as a consultant, workshop leader, and public speaker. I provided consulting services and professional training to other Entrepreneurs while deciding to return to college to earn my doctorate. As a result of my education, I then began providing professional training for applied psychology and Healing Arts. I was given an honorary award as a “world leader in integrative psychology and Mind-Body Medicine”, and published many scientific papers in several professional journals. I was also very far into my spiritual development, and when faced with the idea of whether or not I had an inflated ego, I honestly felt I didn’t because I had a fairly detached perspective on things and was able to see the true nature of things clearly from a highly objective perspective. I had no need to be in the limelight and often put out work without the need for any form of recognition.
As I built what became a very lucrative business (medical center), I was involved in a relationship that caused me to start feeling disillusioned with my life and the ethical nature of the business world. I was living an extremely stressful and face-paced life that resulted in adrenal exhaustion and anxiety attacks that made me feel like I was having heart problems. My partner was also extremely stressed out and his behavior started reflecting it with increased severity that became very destructive and demeaning. He threw what I referred to as “temper tantrums” that would frequently turn over several staff members in one episode. After a while I even had trouble hiring doctors because no one would work with him. I felt as though I was constantly caught up in a form of “damage control” and trying to fix whatever he destroyed. Once I fulfilled what I considered my professional obligation to the situation, I decided to leave. By leaving the relationship, I also left the business, and lost a large part of my livelihood. But I had established a fairly lucrative consulting practice so it didn’t seem to matter.
As I was adjusting to my new situation while still having a couple of years of school left, I started having a kind of foreboding feeling as though something heavy and dark was coming. I had a very strong desire to move to Kauai where I owned a vacation home, but felt tied down with far too many material possessions. I then started forming a desire to de-materialize by sorting out what was important and meaningful and what wasn’t. At the same time I was becoming spiritually aware of my “true goal” in life, which was to transcend this plane altogether at death. I knew that in order to do this I had to detach mentally and emotionally from the material world itself while also resolving all the karma I still had with others that bonded me to them energetically. It seemed as though every time I formed a realization around something that led to making a “sincere decision”, that decision began facilitating the events of my life as the means of fulfilling it. I didn’t have to make all the little decisions or figure out how to do it, all I had to do was form the decision as a spiritual commitment, and the process was set in motion that seemed to be happening automatically while beyond my ability to control it.
Shortly after this, the financial crisis of 2008 hit and within a relatively short period of time I lost nearly all of my investments, savings, and retirement. My most loyal consulting clients were also devastated financially, and my thriving practice began dwindling. I lost my home in the mountains and had to move back to the city and try to find work after being an Entrepreneur for over 25 years. I worked providing consulting services on a contract basis, and was engaged in a seven month project that I was never paid for because the company ended up filing bankruptcy. My consulting business continued to dissolve and as I tried to get a job nothing came through. No matter what I tried, nothing worked, and I began consistently selling off and losing most of my belongings. My vehicle was leased through my company, and it was eventually repossessed. As I was experiencing complete financial loss, I had 4 months of school left and I committed to making sure I completed what at that time was my PhD.
As I was writing the hypothesis for my thesis, I wanted to write about “Personal Transformation that came by Choice and not as a Crisis”. I wanted to write about it from within the “experience” of it rather than a clinical study. The very foundation of Spiritual Sciences is based on the fact that we only truly learn, and thereby “know” something through “experience”. It’s only through experience that knowledge is integrated into our paradigm, upgrading and evolving it as a result. But the peer review group wouldn’t allow me to do it that way and insisted that it be written as a form of “research” instead. It was so important to me to remain true to the “science” of acquiring the knowledge through direct experience that I decided to forfeit the PhD. program and simply complete my doctorate instead. But the “commitment and importance” of writing about it from “within the actual experience of it” in order to capture the human drama of it remained with me and continued to shape the events of my life accordingly as if it was beyond my control to change it.
As I concentrated in order to finish up the last few classes, I started getting a vision as a pervading thought of living in my van (I had bought for my mother). I’m very aware of the creative power of thought as visualizations, yet this was coming as an idea that I wasn’t generating consciously, but was being “given” to my subconscious as a form of prophecy. As I finished school and accomplished my doctorate and was “patting myself on the back”, relieved in my achievement, this solemn voice inside calmly said . . . “now that you have the theory down, let’s practice” . . . and I knew from that moment on that I was in for the ride of my life, and I tried to mentally prepare myself for what I knew was coming.
I continued to steadily lose my possessions, not being able to get work, and struggling in the most basic sense. Every time I tried to figure things out by attempting to grab onto and bring back to life the only security I had known by recreating my old situation in a new way, simply didn’t work. The people who knew me as my professional persona quit talking to me because I was no longer “successful”, and all opportunities seemed to fade away. My friends quit calling and inviting me places, and I slowly became alone and isolated. My family took an attitude of almost enjoying seeing me “fall from grace” because they were jealous of my achievements and saw me as “thinking I was somehow better than them”. They began making constant comments about how I finally got to see what it was like for the rest of them, not seeming to acknowledge that I had come from the same place they did. I was told that I was going to have to learn how to “stoop” and maybe get a job at Starbucks or Walmart. I didn’t have anyone to stay with and literally ended up all alone sleeping in my van along a dark deserted street.
The Realization that Brought an Awakening
I can’t even describe the pain I felt in realizing that everything I had built my life around was an illusion. When I saw the true nature of people I thought I knew, I felt overwhelmed with disgust at how selfish, small, and pathetic they seemed. They somehow made me out to be a lazy low-life that was expecting “hand-outs”. I was shocked and dismayed in light of all the things I had been able to accomplish in my life up to that point, and that’s when I finally realized the true meaning of what the “false ego” really is. The “image” I had built of myself based on worldly accomplishments that won me recognition and the admiration of others, and my ability to build wealth out of nothing and work my way into high positions with total confidence, was how I was “shaping” my perception of myself as the kind of person I was. This false idea I had built about myself only attracted those who were of the same false image. My life had been built around a total illusion of my own making that was so convincing that I even deceived myself, because in the experience of my own demise, I realized I didn’t even know for sure who I really was. My belief in the image I had built of myself became my own undoing.
As I went through a long period of total despair, I felt like I was a fool and had even been abandoned by God. This was extremely amplified by the fact that I was also in the process of going blind. I had been diagnosed with macular degeneration at the age of 40, and it was now reaching a point of crisis where functioning in the most normal sense was becoming increasingly difficult. This greatly accelerated my feelings of despair and being all alone in the world and not knowing why this was happening to me. What had I ever done to “deserve” this? My life didn’t seem to have any purpose, and as I lost my most basic resources, I felt as though I didn’t even matter anymore. After all the work I had been through to build a good life I was going to end up poor, blind, and all alone in life. Kicked to the curb and left to suffer as I slowly diminished. Every night as I laid down to sleep I prayed for death. All I wanted was to end my suffering and fade silently into the abyss. Without purpose my life had no meaning.
Realizing Who I Am
Throughout my life I’ve always been a compulsive writer and have always processed my life experiences and how I was feeling by writing about them. One of my most prevalent tendencies in life has always been to study subjects in-depth, forming a clear understanding of them, and then write about them. I’ve been creating books and journals for as long as I can remember. As an artist early in life, it wasn’t a love for painting or writing that compelled me to create, but the desire to capture a feeling as a realization and express it in a way that gave the viewer or reader the same feeling and realization. Once the overwhelming grief and intense feelings of loss and disillusionment began slowly subsiding, it suddenly dawned on me that what was happening in its wake was that I was starting to reconnect with my true self.
There was a part of me that remained alive all these years and I continued to do as what I considered my true life’s work. I came into the world with talents, natural desires, and tendencies that formed the basis for all my material accomplishments. Through everything that I had lost (which was a great deal) I had managed to keep what was not only important to me, but that was truly “mine”; my paintings, art supplies, and a good part of my writings and books. These were the same things I engaged in naturally as a child and young adult, and were the core of my being. These parts of me never went away and couldn’t be lost or taken away from me by an outside force. As I was all alone in life, I was still studying, writing, and painting.
As I began reorganizing my life from a new perspective and exhausted the feelings of grief and moral despair, I realized that I had got my wish. I realized from a strangely clear perspective that I had undergone the experience of transformation as a decision I had made for myself, that was then carried out and conducted by my higher-self. What I realized as a flaw in my hypothesis is that true transformation is experienced “as” a crisis. It comes as a crisis in identity where all of the illusions of my life either fell away, were taken away, or lost somehow through what appeared to be a course of natural events, and only what was true remained present.
As I lost everything that I used to create my life and identity, I realized that not only did my true self remain completely intact, but became amplified due to the fact that I had freed up a great deal of time and energy I was spending on other things. Due to the fact that I couldn’t seem to rebuild what was lost, I became clear on what was real and an essential part of me that couldn’t be taken away or lost, because it wasn’t based on material factors. It was my soul’s essence which equipped me with everything I needed to fulfill my soul’s purpose. As I abruptly disconnected from my own self-created delusions about myself and my purpose in the world, I began naturally reconnecting with my soul. In reconnecting with my soul’s essence, I began drawing all my power from an internal source.
I realized that most of what I thought I needed and was important, I didn’t need at all and it only had the importance I gave it. That my life only “meant” what I said it meant. I lost all desire for material wealth and status, and felt a newfound kind of freedom. I severed all relationships that were based on illusions while simultaneously maintaining my love for the people because I realized with absolute clarity that they were still caught up in the illusion of their own making and honestly didn’t know any better. I realized I wasn’t abandoned by God, but by my own illusions of God. That the process that had been unconsciously facilitated by my Higher-Self based on my decision to dedicate my life to the truth and transcend this plane of illusion, was a loving act designed to bring me home and reconnect me to the absolute truth of who I am as a spiritual and universal being.
As I detached from the need to somehow control and determine the events and outcomes of my life, I felt completely unaffected by it all. I realized that other people’s opinion of me was shaped as a reflection of their own character as making me into the same type of person they are, and I detached from their projections as a result. I quit looking outward for approval and acceptance, or in an attempt to somehow acquire power from an outside source, and began always residing inward and drawing my strength from an internal source that never dwindled or subsided, but grew in strength as I began depending on it.
I began identifying almost exclusively with my spiritual self instead of my physical self, and all selfish motives and material desires left me. I began cultivating the ability to see the truth in everyone and everything by remaining tuned to the inner nature of things and what was motivating all their perceptions and actions, instead of basing it on the outer appearance of things. I became detached from the emotions being projected at me by others, and remained calm and unaffected by them, and as a result, stayed present with the truth without needing to somehow change it. I realized that my own emotions were the result of what I focused on and how I thought about things, and I began thinking in more universal and meaningful ways.
As I became more and more identified with my Higher-Self and quit building a life of illusion, I began sensing myself as “being in this world but not of it”. I quit looking to “get something” from my interactions with others, and looked instead to give to others in whatever way served their higher good and the good of everyone involved. I began empathizing with their soul’s journey as a dynamic means of learning and growing instead of seeing them only for their unconscious shortcomings and outward faults born out of confusion. I realized that now, and only now am I truly qualified to teach others the knowledge of higher wisdom by having apprehended it through experience . . . which is what my soul’s purpose is in this life.
Only those who are humble can conceive of higher truth without distorting it through the interpretations of their ego. As long as we maintain and live out of a false image and idea about ourselves and the world, we only resonate and act to receive more knowledge of the same kind. When we’re motivated by selfish needs and in love with our own opinions that we mistake for truth, we distort and corrupt true knowledge as a means of serving our own agendas or in order to somehow justify whatever it is we need to in order to maintain it as being true. When we form beliefs out of illusions, we bond ourselves to the world of illusions. When we form our identity around material things and mistake ourselves for being the personality of our body, we become mortal beings who die with our body. When we reside in a state of true detachment from false ideas and selfish motives, we’re able to receive knowledge from higher planes and witness it “as it is” without distorting it by forming personal interpretations. Only what we acquire by “being it” and “living it” as a direct experience becomes the basis for true wisdom. We only truly know what we become and do.