Spiritual Elitism

satine

Milfoil said:
Like love and hate, neither are opposites (dispite first appearances) but rather flavours of the same strong emotion. If love has an opposite, I guess it may well be fear (Freud certainly thought so). So if fear is our ego's favourite meal then love must be the food of our 'universal being'.

Milfoil, I love this! This goes back to what Sophie-David said about the bravery of the ego that learns to step aside, as difficult as that can be. It reminds me of the fast metaphors in various religious doctrines. I had never thought about it before, but perhaps the most cleansing fast is when the ego passes up on its meal of fear-- starving, even martyring, itself for the good of the whole and without secretly holding onto any self-serving pride for being "evolved" enough to do this.
 

Sophie-David

More Castle Dreams

goddessof1967 said:
I almost began dating a guy who suffers from 'spiritual elitism'. After a conversation with him I got a really bad gut feeling though I tried to put it down to nerves or something. A couple of conversations later I realised he was ill - ill with spiritual elitism. I think that a characteristic of real SE comes the inability to recognise one's own elitist tendencies.
I think we are all hypocritical to a degree, it appears to be part of the condition of living in dualism. For some this arrogance becomes quite literally criminal. Can you imagine this person invested with some degree of power?

But it is dangerous to one's own growth not to admit to the shadows in our own dreams that act out the very atrocities that our conscious minds - particularly our egos - deplore. The murderer, the rapist, the religious zealot, the genocidal fanatic, the greedy fat cat and opportunist thief, they all coexist within us. We recognize them in the outer world because we know them only too well as our own. We ignore at our own peril the simple truth that we share consciousness with these same characters in consensual reality - indeed in all realities.

I would propose that the denial of our own shadows is the root of spiritual elitism and egoic arrogance in general. When you realize that the people you most dislike in the outer world are typically acting out what you most despise in yourself, that they are "raising your shadow", this realization becomes a remarkably effective cure for one's own arrogant tendencies.

I am not in any sense suggesting not to avoid or protect oneself from these hurtful, dangerous, and evil people. In fact it is for the good of everyone, but most especially the perpetrators, that they be held to account for their actions. Of course compassion needs to guide this accountability, because it is also true that the majority of perpetrators were also victims, and that the hurtful choices that they have made are often a result of having their moral courage wrung out of them. We all share collective responsibility because we are of one flesh - one consciousness, one essence - but nonetheless we are unavoidably responsible for our individual behaviours and all their consequences within the domains with live in. This includes taking the responsibility to stand and fight for the unloved, the wounded and the repressed, not turning away so as to become an accomplice.

Among our inner shadows we also share consciousness with those who have managed to transcend circumstance: the Ghandhis, Mother Teresas, Christs and Buddhas on their best days. This is not only inspiring, but yet another reminder of the ego's need for humility, for in essence there is nothing but our own choices that stop us from being as they were and are.

Neither would I suggest delving into one's own shadow world without precautions, strengthenings, and effective guidance. There is generally always a battle there before there is a truce, an acceptance, a forgiveness, and finally an integration. But it is surprisingly common to discover that the dream or journeying ego is very often on the "wrong" side.

I can say that it did wonders for my own humility, and was also the cause of a profound guilt that only the unconditional love of the victim could alleviate, when I discovered the cruel repression within my inner world, and in particular the story of Sophie that is recounted at my web site.

I hope it goes without saying that just as Sting and I have separately recognized ourselves as kings and emperors within our masculine castles, women also have their own princess and queenly tendencies that are equally self-destructive. It is a sign of Enya's spiritual and artistic maturity that in "Marble Halls" she shares her own castle dream with such transparency and honest sweetness (admittedly Enya did not actually write this song):
I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls
with vassals and serfs at my side,
and of all who assembled within those walls
that I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches all too great to count
and a high ancestral name.
But I also dreamt which pleased me most
that you loved me still the same,
that you loved me
you loved me still the same,
that you loved me
you loved me still the same.

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand,
that knights upon bended knee
and with vows no maiden's heart could withstand,
they pledged their faith to me.
And I dreamt that one of that noble host
came forth my hand to claim.
But I also dreamt which charmed me most
that you loved me still the same
that you loved me
you loved me still the same,
that you loved me
you loved me still the same.
 

Sophie-David

The Role of Ego

I love your signature line, goddessof1967:
"Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn. The spiritual journey is the unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back in our hearts."
Marianne Williamson
I do not think of the ego as inherently evil, and if you think of a baby or young child, and most sentient animals too, they are for the most part very self-centred - very egoic - yet they love implicitly. Yes, this fear is learned, and this fear becomes the ruler of our hearts.
Milfoil said:
Thinking about this, I mused over the ego and the alter-ego but there we simply have two distinct flavours of the same entity. Like love and hate, neither are opposites (despite first appearances) but rather flavours of the same strong emotion. If love has an opposite, I guess it may well be fear (Freud certainly thought so). So if fear is our ego's favourite meal then love must be the food of our 'universal being'.
Yes, most religious leaders have said the same thing about love and fear, with great truth. I believe that psychology is in any event just another form of religion. But yet the ego also yearns for love, and is love too, if it can but see it.

I have what may be an interesting take on the relationship of ego and other - as you say, Millie, ego and alter-ego. In the story of Sophie and David that the web site retells, we see Sophie cast as the heroic victim who willingly sacrifices herself for love. And while she dwelt in the unconscious she was in a sense shielded from the burden of responsibility that goes with egoic identity.

Having emerged into consciousness Sophie became a co-egoic presence and with this gift came an accountability that she initially tried to deny. Not only the egoic self, but the emotional one, can be full of both fear and control. It came out in further dreams that in my childhood Sophie too had much to be accountable for, in particular through her repression of Eirian, the creative centre.

And need I say how arbitrary and dictatorial the creative muse, the Empress (Empress Eirian in my case), can be in her demands? The more I travel in the creative direction, the more battles I have with her, who would have me up all night to manifest her inspirations! As protectress of the body (the emotions are rooted in the body), Sophie rightly tries to resist this. No wonder that Sophie and Eirian, although they have come to be lovers, are often in direct opposition.

All these and the myriad other aspects of personality, these other entities that are often quite separate and autonomous from the ego itself, all have both their weaknesses and virtues, and the ego has the unenviable task of trying to hold it all together. It certainly helps when there is an awareness that these entities actually exist - and luckily the Self is greater than the sum of the parts!

But the virtue of ego is in its very accountability. Nothing else in the psyche is quite as effective as when ego plays its proper role and says "I am responsible".

Milfoil said:
Perhaps the biggest lesson we have to attempt to learn and experience here on earth is to find the balance between the two?
I think not quite a balance, which to me implies a compromise, but a new thing, the third which transcends the duality.
 

Sophie-David

satine said:
Milfoil, I love this! This goes back to what Sophie-David said about the bravery of the ego that learns to step aside, as difficult as that can be. It reminds me of the fast metaphors in various religious doctrines. I had never thought about it before, but perhaps the most cleansing fast is when the ego passes up on its meal of fear-- starving, even martyring, itself for the good of the whole and without secretly holding onto any self-serving pride for being "evolved" enough to do this.
"The most cleansing fast is when the ego passses up its meal of fear - starving, even martrying itself for the good of the whole." I love that line, brilliant! :)
 

satine

Sophie-David said:
I would propose that the denial of our own shadows is the root of spiritual elitism and egoic arrogance in general. When you realize that the people you most dislike in the outer world are typically acting out what you most despise in yourself, that they are "raising your shadow", this realization becomes a remarkably effective cure for one's own arrogant tendencies.

True; however, illuminating and "raising" your own shadows becomes a cure only if you are able to first recognize (and admit to) your shadows within these "others" whose behavior you deplore. For most, though, ego defenses-- some of which can be quite advanced-- might inhibit the possibility of such a realization ever occurring. Wouldn't you agree? As a result, we cringe at the sight of the Devil card rather than appreciating that he is within us (or we don’t cringe at all because he is perceived to no longer be relevant to us individually). He is also within our control-- but only if we acknowledge him. This discussion highlights the importance of this single card within the context of spiritual elitism, and it becomes clear that facing one's shadows is a continuous process; it is not something that is conquered and then put aside as an accomplishment that then becomes a meal for the ego (returning to that earlier metaphor!). By honestly, sincerely, and CONTINUOUSLY acknowledging my inner demons, I am no longer controlled by them.

I do agree with the other suggestion, though, that the ego is not entirely made up of shadows. The example of a child is perfect. Children typically assume that the world revolves around them, yet they love without restraint. Incidentally, this is how I draw a distinction between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and someone who is simply an egomaniac, for lack of a better term. The true narcissist is like a child in many ways, while by contrast someone who is "all ego" seems to have less capacity for love, empathy, and genuine compassion that is born in humility rather than pity. Perhaps then, the goal is not for us to shed our ego but to embrace it with the innocence of a child (or the Fool). Maybe?
 

mingbop

I think you're all making things complicated when you don't need to. We all have egos and we all have to learn to live with them, achieve a balance. There's a brilliant Scots phrase that covers this spiritual elitism btw. Its "giving your mind a treat " :)
 

Sophie-David

satine said:
True; however, illuminating and "raising" your own shadows becomes a cure only if you are able to first recognize (and admit to) your shadows within these "others" whose behavior you deplore. For most, though, ego defenses-- some of which can be quite advanced-- might inhibit the possibility of such a realization ever occurring. Wouldn't you agree?
Yes, of course, there is no simple recipe for self-realization. At this time of year it is interesting to reflect on the Dickens' Christmas Carol as an example of how both disillusionment and enlightenment can come in different and unexpected ways. It would be helpful though if Jungian psychology (philosophy?) became more mainstream, because it does provide models that could be useful to many. As you suggest, there are many who completely balk at the idea that the person they criticize often has so much in common with the critic. But I remember that there is a lot of truth in that childhood taunt, "It takes one to know one". The general lack of spirituality and rites of passage within our culture is not conducive to finding the way.

satine said:
As a result, we cringe at the sight of the Devil card rather than appreciating that he is within us (or we don’t cringe at all because he is perceived to no longer be relevant to us individually). He is also within our control-- but only if we acknowledge him. This discussion highlights the importance of this single card within the context of spiritual elitism, and it becomes clear that facing one's shadows is a continuous process; it is not something that is conquered and then put aside as an accomplishment that then becomes a meal for the ego (returning to that earlier metaphor!). By honestly, sincerely, and CONTINUOUSLY acknowledging my inner demons, I am no longer controlled by them.
I regret if I did not indicate that this is a continuous process, although I think I did mention the cycles of descent and ascent that go with it. But I would like to reinterate that I do not see shadows as inherently evil, only that they are shadows because they are obscure to the ego.

I do agree with the other suggestion, though, that the ego is not entirely made up of shadows. The example of a child is perfect. Children typically assume that the world revolves around them, yet they love without restraint. Incidentally, this is how I draw a distinction between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and someone who is simply an egomaniac, for lack of a better term. The true narcissist is like a child in many ways, while by contrast someone who is "all ego" seems to have less capacity for love, empathy, and genuine compassion that is born in humility rather than pity. Perhaps then, the goal is not for us to shed our ego but to embrace it with the innocence of a child (or the Fool). Maybe?
Yes, I do see it that way also. In my understanding, the psychological definition of ego is that which is not shadow. Shadows are usually something that we do not care to own or acknowlege about ourselves. These shadows are just as likely to be beneficial as otherwise.
 

Sophie-David

mingbop said:
I think you're all making things complicated when you don't need to. We all have egos and we all have to learn to live with them, achieve a balance. There's a brilliant Scots phrase that covers this spiritual elitism btw. Its "giving your mind a treat " :)
We each need to follow the paths that are right for ourselves. Obviously mine has quite a bit of analysis found along the wayside - I am a typical (double) Capricorn structuralist with a large dose of Aquarian and Saggitarian idealism thrown in. That sentence in itself proves the point! ;)

Could you explain the phrase "giving your mind a treat" mingbop, I have not heard it before and really cannot grasp the context...
 

OOnaOwl

Sophie-David said:
What a wonderful article, thank you for bringing it to our attention satine, and for posting it Marion! I don't come here often, but when I do it is always clear why “I” have chosen that particular moment - consciousness knows so much more than ego doesn't it?

Yes, I have felt that hostile egoic spiritualism in some new age shops as much as in some churches - its palpable and prickly when it happens, and a good time to escape in whatever way necessary. In myself, I accept the ego as a fact of life, but basically try to work around it, acknowledging its influence and foibles with some humour and compassion. There's nothing worse than worrying about it, because that just gives the ego power. Just love it as you would a silly puppy dog!

In fact I perceive more damage done by the ego through its conservative deflation of transcendent ideals, practices and behaviours, its clinging to the old and finite in the face of limitless possibility. This egotism disguises itself as humility, becoming a betrayer of our true natures, confining and enslaving us within a well defined and contained material box, like the true Saturn that it is.

So while I agree with Suzanne in principle, I personally see more danger in the ego's limiting affect, that force which tears down, gives up, and does nothing, making us feel inadequate, artless, and useless. I hear the ego saying, in both the world and the "myself" part of it, that I have nothing new to contribute, no purpose, no mission, no validity. As the betrayer, usurper, and saboteur of the force of creative love and passion, this is where the untempered ego does his and her greatest disservice.

Wow, I have also found this egotism a stronger force than the one discussed in the article!
 

mingbop

Thats very funny --I'm a cap with aquarius bits as well. Giving your mind a treat means letting your mind run away with you, giving it free rein, letting it wander--but said with a rather catty slant ! LOL.