In this blog Prajna addresses the unsatisfactoriness of the egoic operating system an it’s relationship to life. She highlights what defines and fuels egoic nature so you can recognize how it functions. She gives pointers on how to lean into life with keen interest rather than strategies for an immediate fix that defeats an open opportunity to savor and be transformed by the challenges of fierce grace. She gives examples of how it is the most difficult moments in life that bring true transformation.
Do you ever find yourself in an entanglement that doesn’t feel satisfying? I’ve been around long enough to know that whenever anything feels less than satisfying that an opportunity for transformation is at hand. This is an incredible opportunity to savor for anyone wanting to live their deepest realization.
Unsatisfactoriness isn’t about life; it’s about the egos relationship with life.
Ego tells us if it goes this way or that way all will be happy. What brings us into a deeper exploration of life is when we get to see the lie of the ego. Opening to a deeper exploration happens when we can let ourselves see that there is something unsatisfactory about this and I don’t have to fix it.
In terms of our own transformation, spiritual awakening, fierce grace is a positive moment. Upheaval, disappointments, small or big are what propel us toward true transformation, to a deeper satisfaction. When we are able to perceive life as it is without flinching, a deeper and much more natural response is available to us.
Suffering is very good at propelling us along. But we can choose to see through it at any given moment and not join a collective force. There is a collective human consensus on reality of what is normal. This consensus is often borderline insane, highly dysfunctional, based on many things that are not true. For example, to say that racism is non-existence. Or to say that historically or even now there is balance between the sexes meaning regardless if you are a male or a female you are always treated with equality.
So much of unsatisfactoriness is based on how we relate to life, on how our minds are relating to life. Let’s take a look at what fuels egoic nature and please remember this is not you, it is a conditioned reflex blanketed in fear:
- • Blame: It does not do any good to blame anything on anybody. When we do, we miss our own responsibility in the manner, and go to sleep to our own potentiality in the present.
• Avoidance: We can avoid life and look for something to safe us. We can miss the opportunity to take responsibility for ourselves.
• Distort: Take one incident and magnify it to many or all the time. This is the egoic operating systems most prominent strategy.
• Deflect: We can block what is coming to us and immediately deflect it back so it does not even get in. We miss the opportunity for important information and for life to serve as a mirror in assisting us to take responsibility for ourselves.
• Regression: We can seek happiness through regression. If I could just go back to an earlier time when things were new and exciting, like a child. We forget that children know less than we do. Children have not begun to deal with the fundamental dilemma of existence. They don’t have the ability to say “gosh this is really difficult.” If they are unhappy they simply scream. If happy they smile without a thought about it.
• Refuse to explore: A major human dilemma is the avoidance of psychological suffering. This is a predominant motivating force in spiritual seekers. It’s regressive, to want to avoid, to not explore.
- • Masking emotions: Rage and anger are triggered when life touches upon places in us that already hurt and the ego operating system is on fire to protect.
• Pretend not to notice: The ability not to notice can be tremendous yet eventually it breaks down.
• Play victim: When something unfortunate happens the mind can go to victim mode. Ego operating system says I’ve been victimized. I’m a victim.
• Play aggressor: Some others interpretations go into aggressive ego. I’m going to conquer this. I will have it my way.
• Reprogram the ego: Make it more sophisticated. Read a bunch of books; learn a bunch of spiritual concepts to add to the ego operating system, just in case. When we reprogram our ego, our operating system, no matter how little or much, it still controls you.
• Abide in formless consciousness: Even thought this is an advanced strategy and a wonderful place to abide. As it is a realm outside of time, where nothing happened, (or you could say where all happens), never been harmed, nothing can be, and never will be. A delightful realm of consciousness is still not the answer to the human dilemma. This does not tell you how to live in the human realm of time and space. Good to know the ego does not define you yet you also need to know how to live as a human without fear.
All of these approaches have the seed of unsatisfactoriness woven into it so it cannot last forever. Trying to do anything through regression is always unfulfilling.
This is where rubber hits the road, when grace gets fierce. This is when we discover our underlying attitude with life. Are we trying to get out of it, alter it, and make it feel better as fast as we possibly can?
Alternatively, rather than retreating and pulling back, we can lean into lean into those moments of fierce grace, of upheaval, small or big. We can lean into rather than block or back away.
At a certain point we feel the innate energy of presence rising. An energy that is a transformative operating force in your life, an energy that has a tremendous potential.Egoic operating system says ouch! I don’t like this. How do I get away from it? Who do I blame for it? Whose fault is it? How do I get power over it? How do I control it?
It’s good to hear the voice of ego and how it operates. Need to hear this voice in head and know where this speaking is coming from. Need to get a feel for how this ego in the mind takes over. To recognize it is the first step for it to no longer have power over you. Until this voice is recognized it still has power even when you are pushing it away.
Instead of moving away or being motivated by entire laundry list of agendas to change what is happening, to get away from what is happening, we can actually begin to listen.
This is the key—to listen. To listen to something deeper than the reactive mind.
What do I do? I’m uncomfortable, what do I do? Listen to uncomfortableness and how it shows up in your mind and body. But I don’t have time to listen. I’m too busy planning my next move.
What does uncomfortableness sound and feel like?
Egoic operating system always wants to avoid what is happening in the body, what the body is feeling, sensing, expressing.
Presence—the great transforming agent.
There is something else within every being. There is a different energy. There is a different point of view. One way would be to say, wow, I am stuck. This is terrible. Therefore I am terrible and settle into becoming a bitter old person for the rest of life. This attitude relates to experience from the viewpoint of a victim. Ego operating system says I’ve been victimized. I can’t alter it. I’m a victim. When something unfortunate happens the mind goes into victim mode. Some others interpretations go into aggressive ego. I’m going to conquer this!!!
It is vital to get your identity out of the egoic operating system. If you don’t you are like a dog being pulled around on a leash. It runs life. You are at its whim and pulled wherever it goes. It’s a closed system, it is samsara, it is totally conditioned, it is confusing, it is isolating.
How do we get identity out of the ego operating system?
Be quiet for 30 minutes. You will realize how you are controlled by the ego operating system. You will see why you do not want to slow down. You will see the leash that is pulling you around. It’s like velcro. You don’t have to sit for long.
How do I stop all this thinking?
Then you see very quickly, this thing, the mind, the ego operating system, the very thing that is in control. The first reaction is “I can make this better.” And you’re catapulted into strategies of making it better. Then you are controlled by what you think will make it better, an angelic ego.
The thing that fundamentally keeps us chained to ego, is our identification with it. We are only identified with it for as long as we find meaning in it and we don’t allow ourselves to feel how substantially unsatisfactory it is.
Many humans go to the old egoic system to tell them everything. When feeling bad, unworthy, that is where the place to go. It will deliver everything bad and unworthy.
The first shift in spiritual awakening is when identity starts to come out of ego. When we can see that the voice in the head does not define anything.
Even when attention may feel stuck there you are coming to a place of deeper exploration.
How do I live what I have realized?
How do I live it?
I know that place beyond time and space of total freedom, but I still do not get along with wife, neighbor. Still this egoic thing thinks it is needed when I go to engage with life.
We have to come to a place consciously or unconsciously to meet people where they are and confront all the ups and downs of life.
Ego thinks I am very necessary. Formless nature goes to background. Ego says, “oh here I am.” Then there is this real split. We have to go back to our original motivation: is it to escape the ups and downs of life? Or to rise to a harmonious way of relating to all of life?
We can admit that the functional aspects of life can get very confusing. There aren’t always the circumstances to take a break. We’re not always able to take life off. We need to get back to work, family, preparing dinner. Normal human stuff can be confusing as your consciousness changes.
When there are moments of fierce grace, upheaval, turmoil, same truths apply.
Where are we operating from in that moment? Do I just default into egoic mode: fear, withdrawal, blame, control, regression? Or do we default into a different mode of energy? Can we relax the habit to quickly solve and instead to find the truth of it. Big or small, do we move away from it, or to see what is true in it?
The fierceness about these times in life, calls upon a fierce quality in us, not shying away, not trying to solve. It is fierce to lean into something, and allow it to transform you, allow it to transform your perception. The tendency is to pull away as the future is unknown. What is tomorrow to be like? We don’t know. We used to pretend to know but we do not know.
We don’t know if we lean in how they will operate tomorrow, or the next day. The unknown has a quality for the ego that is frightening.
“I found myself in this strange delimma, what am I going to do about it?”
I don’t know… the first thing you know, is I don’t know. Old egoic operating system is uncomfortable with that.
There is a deeper way of functioning from a whole true place within us.
We have to be able to live with the unknown not to solve it immediately, but to live with it. The ends are not tied up. Our egoic operating system always wants to know the solution. “I do not want to feel this fear, insecurity, I want a solution.”
What is true about us? There is another energy in us, a different energy in us, in some it may be very small if it has not exercised it. It may feel like a small presence. It is that aspect of your self that is not pulling back. If anything it is leaning in a little bit with interest.
It wants to know what is going on. Not because it needs to find a solution and to get out. It wants to know what is going on because it wants to know what’s going on. It does not want to get rid of fear and anxiety. It’s that trying to get rid of, that traps you in the fear and anxiety.
Initially it is the acceptance of all of that. Maybe there is fear, anxiety, confusion but I am willing to have it as part of my experience. There is a natural acceptance of all of this. If a solution then presents itself, it is not going to come from this anxious fearful ego. Our deeper nature does this quite spontaneously without struggle or effort. Maybe a little conscious or very conscious but truth of our being is there. All we need to do is listen for how it moves in time and space in moods of difficulty. This is a very different way of listening. It is not egoic mind trying to collect strategies to make things better or to fix anything.
This is the seed of truth in each of us where we are all the same, and no one has more than the other. The truth of you, me and all else, it has a singular quality to itself that expresses differently. There is something within us, when you tap into it; the presence that is true in us brightens under difficulty. The more challenged you are the brighter it shines. This is the opposite of ego that gets more afraid.
Presence gets brighter. You don’t make it brighter, its part of the wholenss of life.
This light within can be so repressed or unrecognized by consensus reality, yet it rises to meet everything within us. We often notice this when something happens to a friend or a loved one. It rises within us as there is no time to think. You have done something, it just happens through you, you did not figure it out. Where did that action arise from? There was no fear. It just arose. That is it. That may be the first time they realize that there is a place where response can come from that is very different, no time to go to ego, the stakes are too high.
That kind of response is very natural in us. Yet when all of our identity is caught in fear or ego, it is hard to break through, yet it can break through the densest egos. A deeper response comes when we contemplate our mortality, our own ending. Meditate at a gravestone in the middle of the night, it allows this that we really are to bloom.
Timing and patience are immensely overlooked in our experience as human beings. We might think, I will immediately know what to do in every situation.” No, only if it is the timing for you to know. Spiritual essence knows exactly when we need to know. It takes allot of trust, patience, and conditions to know. The more aware you are, the more you have a great respect for conditions to come together, for a knowing to bloom inside of you, the more you are able to wait. As we connect more with our deeper nature the more we are ok with this. Deeper nature knows that everything in life has its time, even if the conditions seem like a disaster to conventional mind, things often have to mature and come together before it is time to know the next action. That sort of patience is extraordinarily patient to let things develop until the timing is just right.
The hallmark of true nature is that timing always feels just right. There is an exquisite timing that ego mind can not bear for very long, can not see the perfection in it.
Patience is a deep listening. Anything I have come to as a knowing, real knowing, has never come from figuring it out. Wholeness is what arises in trust.
Heart means whole, a wisdom that comes from wholeness of you, the wholeness of each situation. It is the truth that belongs to the entirely of the situation, whole and complete. All true wisdom comes from your wholeness, comes from Prajna (Heart Wisdom). A wisdom that is so obvious. I trust that everything will unfold exactly as it does. Most people live believing that life will make mistakes so it needs me or the egoic operating system to keep a close eye on it.
Lastly, many think that those things that were the worse things that ever happened, time of loss, doubt, conflict, turmoil, upheaval, addiction, abuse, divorce, death, you name it; when you look back on them, most of the greatest transformations came through moments just like that.
Isn’t it that we try to avoid those moments that are hugely transformative, that we wish not to repeat, yet when you look back in a strange way, you say, “I am so glad that happened, I have no regrets, as something very good came out of it.”
We are so convinced that the great transformations only come from the positive experiences in life, an amazing sunset, a mountain top experience, great sex, a boat trip around the world. We may have had an incredible time and saw great beauty. The more conscious we become, the less we need life to hit us on the head. We don’t need life to point them out our blind spots. We only need them to the extent that we are unconscious.
Byron Katie said there are more brought to God through alcoholism than the Bible. We think good brings us to God, and what take us away are the difficulties. No, as we get more conscious, we may not need difficulty to wake us up from our slumber. The more conscious we become the less we need to help us to become conscious.
We have an incredible tendency to believe that any kind of difficulty or doubt or despair tells us that something went wrong. No, this is just when it was about to turn around and go right. This is an opportunity to be opened up to life. This is the great turn around.
PRAJNA GINTY MA is a spiritual teacher, Hakomi Therapist, Shipibo Apprentice, Consciousness guide and author of the Amazon Best Seller: Edge of Grace: A Fierce Awakening to Love. As a single mom of two children with special needs, she was inspired to create The Flowing River School and Sangha Project (2001). She is also the creator of The Embodiment Intensive (2006). Prajna has been featured in One Truth, Many Voices, Buddha at the Gas Pump, Living-from-Love, 10,000 Awakenings and Conscious TV. She came to spiritual realization by way of mysticism and three decades of extensive training in the world’s non-dual wisdom traditions, depth psychology and living an ordinary life. Inspired by Anandamayima, Ramana Mahashi, her root teacher Adyashanti, her children, and Curanderos, her teachings are practical, non-dogmatic and elicit the direct knowing of who we are amidst everyday life. In recent years she has taken in-depth training in the Language, Teaching and Healing of Plants as Natural Medicine. She is widely known for her depth of presence, unabated compassion and potent meditations for reclaiming your original wholeness and aliveness. She graciously points to spirit that the underlying unifying force present in you, and all things in the Universe. She creates a soft place to land and embody your true self for the deepest connection and aliveness with all of life.