22 April 2010

Ego, Mind, Memory, Emotion

In keeping with the idea in the "About Me" section, that all the world's a stage, we can divide our lives into three acts - childhood and parental influences, adult family and work, old age and retirement1. When I am on holidays, in Kerry, walking the beaches and watching the scenery, I find myself looking back at my life and trying to make sense of what has happened and what is going on.

One of the major transitions happened 24 years ago. I was sitting in a house in Glenbeigh, overlooking the beach with the Dingle peninsula in the background. I had just come through a very rough time at work and had spent too much time in the pub trying to forget it. The thought occurred to me "that there must be more to life than survival". The conclusion I came to was that, rather than being about survival, life is about changing state.

After the holiday, when I got back to "the real world" of work and routine I made a lot of changes. I went on a very strict diet for two years, gave up drinking, smoking, and a host of other things that I was advised were not good for me. The results of this were great. I had boundless energy and I seemed to be in control of my life. My career started going the way I wanted it to.

At Easter, this year, I sat in a house in the Maharees, overlooking a beach, with Brandon bay and mountain in the background. Many things have changed since my realization all those years ago. I've left the day-job in the corporate world, I do some part-time teaching, some healing, some volunteer work in the local psychiatric unit and some walkabout. Most of what I do is about delivering a message. The message reflects my goal in life of being in peace and being happy.

I "retired" 13 years ago and now, when I talk with my friends who are still in jobs, I ask them to stop thinking about retirement and instead ask themselves what their next career move is. When we retire at 65 we still have 55 years ahead of us. Not knowing what we are going to do for those years can be soul destroying. In my own case, I have decided that I am a teacher and a healer and that is what I'll be doing for the rest of my life. But, then, we never know. Sometime in the future on that beach in Kerry I may decide that there is yet another role for me.

I see myself in the "Undoing Ego" phase of my life and sometimes I like to think that I'm farther ahead than I really am. That's ego for you. I have noticed recently that I don't deal with resistance easily. I'm inclined to react when someone does not agree with me. If something I'm working on isn't going the way I want, I'm inclined to use anger as a solution. I realise that there is no problem with this reaction, that I'm still learning.

In a couple of dreams in the last week or so I have thrown a temper tantrum and been attacked by a raging animal, probably a bear. My interpretation is that there is anger or even furious rage buried in there somewhere. At least, it's on the move, it is being released in dreams and some body sensations rather than remaining sealed in some dark corner of my mind. And I am accepting it rather than denying it.

"And you have every right to be angry. Look at what is going on in the world" my friend tells me. And of course she's right. I have every right to be angry. I am entitled to judge what is going on and what has been done to me. But I don't want to go there. I believe I am responsible for the world I perceive, and that I am not responsible for what is happening in the world. The singer-songwriter Paul Brady wrote a song called "The world is what you make it, baby." And this I go along with, so I look for peace and I find peace most of the time. When I can't, I enjoy the view or use other techniques to get me present.

Where does this anger come from? I grew up in a large family where seniority granted authority. I was sixth in a line of seventeen. This meant that I learned to be both victim and bully. I could be bossed around by older people and I could boss around younger people. When we were asked questions it was always the oldest that answered for us all. We argued a lot and when we knew we could not win the argument we would resort to anger to get our own way. When we were forced to do jobs that we did not like our initial reaction was always anger. We never questioned this reaction, we took it for granted that that's the way it is. It was only when we moved out into the world that we realised that anger is not regarded as an appropriate response.

While studying Acupuncture I realised that I was almost totally unaware of the effects of our emotions on our bodies. They always seemed to blow over or to pass on with no consequences. From the Chinese perspective, most of our long term problems are caused by our emotions. Anger affects the functioning of our livers, fear the kidneys, grief the lungs, worry the spleen and anxiety the heart. Dr Edward Bach, who developed the Bach Flower Remedies, based the remedies on the idea that by dealing with the underlying emotions we deal with the presenting symptoms.

Over the years I had watched myself to determine what the major contributor was to how I felt at any moment in time. I tried many experiments with food and exercise, but never considered emotions. I thought that what affects the body is what goes into the body or what we do with it. Emotion is much more difficult to experiment with because we are not really willing to admit that we suffer emotions, and the effects on the body are more long term. I have come to accept that I do have emotional episodes and that they effect the body.

The challenge became to stay in control of my emotions. This was helped when I studied "A Course in Miracles". This emphasised again and again that emotion can only be controlled by changing our thinking, and that there is a cause and effect relationship between our thoughts, our emotions and our bodies. The cause of everything is our thinking and its effects are our emotions and our bodies. There was a lot of stuff in it that I did not understand. I came across Almaas's "Pearl Beyond Price" and this filled in the gaps as well as explaining a lot about how we absorb our behaviour patterns in early childhood. I decided to call these absorbed behaviour patterns "memgrams".

Thinking affects our emotions, which in turn affect our bodies. Some people are convinced that we are what we eat. This may be so, but our problems have more to do with our memgrams around eating, rather than any factors that result from the food we eat. There are thousands of people living today who do not eat food. They refer to themselves as breatharians.

So it all comes down to thinking. What we think about, we are. There are no neutral thoughts. We can see a random world of random events over which we have no control. Or we can see the world as what we've made it. We can change our thinking. We can see our minds as being everywhere or we can see our thinking limited to our brains. I refer to these as mind and ego.

To show the difference between ego and mind let's take television as an example. The word is taken from Greek and means seeing at a distance. An image, or a series of moving images, is taken with a camera. Later this gets broadcast and we pick it up as an image on our television screens. The ego works like a television. There is a technique called remote viewing that allows the mind to see anywhere, and any time past, present or future. We all have the potential to do remote viewing.

There is only mind - everything is an idea, and our thinking controls everything. However, we all tend to see ourselves as separate, alone, and isolated. This is ego's way of looking at ourselves. Ego sees scarcity, mind is abundance. Ego is limited, mind is boundless. Ego sees the world in terms of words, symbols and images. Mind knows. Ego divides time into past, present and future. Mind is eternal. Ego stores everything that we have learned and all our experiences in our memories. Mind is total recall. Ego is, for the most part, how we think of ourselves.

We think in terms of what we recall from our memories. The first time we see a tree, we store it in our minds as an image and the next time we see a tree we compare it to the stored image. "Yes, that's a tree," we say. And as time passes we stop seeing the tree and just work from the image stored in our brains. Everything we see and hear is interpreted against what we have stored as memories from our previous experiences and from what we have learned.

Our egos have learned, and will continue to learn. Our minds, knowing everything, have no need to learn. Our minds know everything already.

At its simplest - egos learn, mind creates. While we are caught up in the ego's learning we cannot create - egos can't create, minds can't learn.

09 April 2010

First Post Testing

In thinking about this blog it seemed like it would be no problem to sit here and type my fingers off. Now that I'm doing it, I've got stage fright. Anyone can read it. My ideas are now subject to scrutiny by anyone and hopefully everyone. A few basics to get me going:

  • We are always thinking and what we think affects everything in our lives
  • This blog uses words, symbols and images. All of these can be interpreted in many ways. I give the usage of key words in meanings 
  • I share ideas taken from many sources.