This week’s musing was inspired by Anita Moorjani’s latest book “What if this is Heaven?”.
One of the metaphors Anita uses in this book helped me see something fresh and new about a quandary I’ve often reflected on: Should we aim to kill our ego? Or is it a necessary and desirable aspect of being human?
Imagine you have two radio dials. One is labelled “Ego” and the other is labelled “Awareness”.
By awareness I mean the extent to which we have woken up to the fact that we are connected to the whole. That we are, in human form, one droplet of the infinite ocean – but that we’re also the ocean. That we have become spiritually conscious, and we see that all living things are made from the same ‘stuff’.
When we come into the world, both dials are turned right up to 10.
Our ‘ego’ is healthy – we see ourselves as neither superior to or inferior to anybody else. Just different. But we are not egotistical. To be egotistical, our Awareness dial would need to be low or ‘off’.
We are connected, and we are individuated.
We let our own light shine, we show up, we have the courage to joyfully sing our own unique song.
At the same time, our heart is open – and we revel in listening to everybody else’s unique song too!
What often happens throughout life is that we become conditioned, through our habitual unrecognised thinking, to turn one of these dials down.
If we believe we have to get ahead of everybody else, and that there’s not enough to go around, we turn down our Awareness dial. We become egotistical and selfish. We live from an “I’m alright, Jack” mentality. But deep down, no matter how “successful” we or others believe we are – there’s something missing. Our lives can feel empty, lacking meaning, connection, spirituality, love.
Alternatively, if we believe that “spiritual people shouldn’t have an ego”, we may turn that dial down, and hide our light away because we don’t want to stand in the spotlight. We put everybody else first. We become people-pleasers. And whilst we might enjoy feelings of self-righteousness and piety, again – there’s something missing. We are not really showing up to Life as a uniquely gifted individual. And we can’t LEAD from this place.
What the world needs now is more people who have BOTH dials turned up to 10.
(I can’t help but think of a certain election campaign that’s going on right now!)
Here’s a poem from Anita that encapsulates this so beautifully:
When I was born into the world
The only things I knew were to love, laugh and shine my light brightly
Then as I grew up, people told me to stop laughing,
“Take life seriously” they said,
“If you want to get ahead in this world.”
So I stopped laughing.
People told me “Be careful who you love
If you don’t want your heart broken.”
So I stopped loving.
They said, “Don’t shine your light so bright
As it draws too much attention onto you.”
So I stopped shining
And become small
Only to learn upon death
That all that matters in life
Is to love, laugh and shine our light brightly!