Tagged with: autonomy

The ego, which has traditionally been the enemy of the spiritual aspirant, is not just an individual entity. It also has a collective dimension. The collective ego is your culturally conditioned self-the conglomeration of conscious and unconscious ideas that represent the way you assume life is supposed to be. It is all of the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” you have absorbed from those around you and from the shared history of your culture or ethnic background. It is a set of subtle and not-so-subtle beliefs, ideas, and ways of seeing the world that you deeply subscribe to but may not even be aware of. So much of the individual that you experience yourself to be has been created by the cultural worldspace that you were born into. And that’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when you don’t know how conditioned you are. But the more you are able to shed light on all the different ways in which you are conditioned, the more space will open up for real autonomy-freedom of choice to be the person you want to be. So the culturally created ego is a very significant dimension of the self that needs to be brought to light in your own awareness. And it is not an easy task. It takes an inspired degree of mental focus and a willingness to deconstruct the very foundations of who you think you are-over, and over, and over again. But this process is a critical part of human evolution and spiritual transformation.

The ego, which has traditionally been the enemy of the spiritual aspirant, is not just an individual entity. It also has a collective dimension. The collective ego is your culturally conditioned self-the conglomeration of conscious and unconscious ideas that represent the way you assume life is supposed to be. It is all of the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” you have absorbed from those around you and from the shared history of your culture or ethnic background. It is a set of subtle and not-so-subtle beliefs, ideas, and ways of seeing the world that you deeply subscribe to but may not even be aware of. So much of the individual that you experience yourself to be has been created by the cultural worldspace that you were born into. And that’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when you don’t know how conditioned you are. But the more you are able to shed light on all the different ways in which you are conditioned, the more space will open up for real autonomy-freedom of choice to be the person you want to be. So the culturally created ego is a very significant dimension of the self that needs to be brought to light in your own awareness. And it is not an easy task. It takes an inspired degree of mental focus and a willingness to deconstruct the very foundations of who you think you are-over, and over, and over again. But this process is a critical part of human evolution and spiritual transformation.

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Change yourself, change the world

Trying to change the world without changing our mind is like trying to clean the dirty face we see in the mirror by scrubbing the glass. However vigorously we clean it, our reflection will not improve. Only by washing our own face and combing our own unkempt hair can we alter the image. Similarly, if we want to help create conditions that foster peace and well-being in the world, we first need to reflect these qualities ourselves.

- Lama Shenpen Drolma

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