The False Self
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I sometimes lose patience with spiritual seekers who tell me it is my task to get rid of the ego. This is often indicative of a personal quest for salvation driven by the ego desire for such salvation.
It is a personal quest to get to Heaven or Nirvana while everyone else, apart from the chosen, can go to hell in a hand basket. This is kinder garden spirituality.
The development of the ego is a 1st Half of Life task. It is all about creating a separate sense of self. This is where you develop clear personal boundaries. From an energetic point of view you integrate the lower three chakras.
Your task in the 1st half of life is to feel safe in the body, (1st chakra) develop healthy relationships with yourself and others (2nd chakra) and a personal sense of empowerment. (3rd chakra).
You are especially able to say “No” as well as affirm “Yes” and mean it. Others are also clear that your “No” means “No” and your “Yes” means “Yes.” It means that you do not have fluffy boundaries that can be manipulated.
This development of the ego or personality (from the Greek word “persona” meaning “mask.”) is the work of the 1st Stage of Life up to and around the ages of 35 to 40 years.
Thomas Merton, American Trappist monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist, and scholar of comparative religion referred to the ego as, “The False self” as opposed to “The True Self.”
Having said that, the development of the ego is a very necessary part of the human journey on this planet.
Many people never make it this far. This is due mainly to experiences of abandonment and/or trauma early in childhood. Most of us have experienced some form of abandonment even if we have not experienced trauma.
With such experience of abandonment/trauma your ability to set clear ego boundaries is compromised because to do so would involve a feeling of threat or danger. Thus you may develop an attraction to the world of transcendence where you can disappear into the Boundless.
This quest for transcendence, without the work of personal integration, is referred to as “Spiritual Bypassing. This phrase “Spiritual Bypassing what coined by the psychotherapist and author in the transpersonal-psychology John Welwood who said that spiritual bypassing was:-
Spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional ‘unfinished business,’ to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings, and developmental tasks.” The goal of such practices, he claimed, was enlightenment.- Toward a Psychology of Awakening – John Welwood