“There seem to be two kinds of searchers: those who seek to make their ego something other than it is, i.e. holy, happy, unselfish, and those who understand that all such attempts are just gesticulation and play-acting, that there is only one thing that can be done, which is to disidentify themselves with the ego, by realising its unreality and by becoming aware of their eternal identity with pure being.” ~Michael Kibbee
I have been both of the kinds of searchers that Michael speaks of in the quote above, so I can relate well to what he is saying.
I have spent most of my life in the shoes of the first kind of searcher—trying with all my will to be something other than I am, as if self-improvement via sheer willpower was possible. I’ve made every attempt to make myself a better person by this mechanism. It hasn’t worked. I have things I’ve been trying to change about myself for decades that have not shifted even the tiniest bit. The more I fight to transform the ego, the more my ego fights back, and I wind up stuck. At best, I can manage to pretend (with much constant stress and effort) to be something other than I am for limited amounts of time this way, but it doesn’t make for lasting change.
However, as I have embarked on this path of listening to that curious observer within, I am finding myself more and more on the second path of disidentifying with the ego. With that disidentification is coming real shifts in things that I had thought were unchangeable based on all my attempts at change via willpower.
I am not sure I agree with his statement that the ego is unreal; I think it is very real and even necessary, however I think it is only a part of who I am. It is a part of me that needs to be in service to my Higher Self rather than my master and the totality of my being that it often tries to claim to be. Therefore, my disidentification with ego is not a denial of its existence, nor is it an attempt to kill the ego. Instead, it nurturing my ability to recognize that the ego is only one piece of who I am and to stand outside of that one piece to make my choices from a place that is larger and infinitely wiser than this one small piece.
My ego doesn’t particularly care for this demotion in status, and it takes a constant effort to remember to step into that more open space of the curious observer, but I am finding this to be a particularly rewarding practice. (And practice is a most apt term here; this is something I must practice daily in the hopes of one day getting it “right!”)
I’m still moving forward with baby steps, and I have a long way to go. There are moments where I find a real sense of disorientation comes along with this disidentification process as I let go of the idea that the ego that I always thought defined me being all that I am. And yet, I am continually amazed at the shifts and the growth I am seeing in myself as I stick with this practice. I wish I had realized that it was all “gesticulation and play-acting” so much sooner!
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.