Walking the spiritual path can be very confusing and exhausting. I’ve personally been plagued very often with the question why we’re equipped with an ego and a soul at the same time. And how come it’s easier for most people to follow their ego instead of their soul? Why is the voice of our soul so quiet compared to the voice of our ego? The fact that I couldn’t really come to a satisfying solution at times made me doubt the relevance of a spiritual lifestyle. I started to grow tired of continuously having the urge of denying one of them - as they seemed to be so incompatible.
Recently I’ve repeatedly come across an explanation of our soul’s origin and the role of our ego which has given me much more inner peace. In this post I’d like to share this view with you, because it has definitely helped me to integrate these seemingly contradictory parts of me within myself - and therefore has helped me become more whole.
Interestingly, what has helped me most is not the understanding of our soul, but much more the function of our ego. Most people who are on the spiritual path (obviously including myself!) have difficulties accepting their ego. They think that having “negative” feelings or thoughts make them “bad” people. Even though the intentions are good, even wanting to resist our negative emotions is a form of resistance. And resistance always is a source of suffering.
As humans we have a soul and we have an ego, that’s our design. We can’t take a shortcut to enlightenment by denying our ego. This, eventually, will lead us further away from our soul, because we don’t recognize yet that our ego is designed to help strengthen our soul. The reason we feel so torn between our soul and our ego is because, in fact, we live in two worlds simultaneously: in the physical world and in a spiritual world. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. The ego is our expression of the physical world and our soul is the expression of our spiritual world.
Before we enter this physical realm, our soul decides the lessons it wants to learn. In order to learn this lesson, it has to make specific experiences for which it needs the “help” of other soul’s. This is how the so-called soul contracts come into existence. In this loving environment of the spiritual realm the soul’s agree to help each other grow during their physical experience.
Once the soul comes into the world, it is paired with an ego. This ego is of utmost importance to the soul - without the ego it couldn’t learn the lessons. In order to really get into the experience of being human, the soul also needed to forget about it’s true nature. Only by really identifying with the ego can the soul experience the amount of pain it needs in order to regain its innate wisdom. For this reason, we need to really go through all of our experiences in order to transform our energies.
That’s also why spiritual bypassing doesn’t work. Since we are spiritual beings having a human experience, we can’t simply decide that we’re not having the human experience. In fact, that’s an egoic strategy which tries to make us “superior” to others. There’s nothing wrong with having an ego. Having an ego is part of the game and it’s in fact your number one tool! By denying and suppressing the expressions of our ego, we bereave ourselves and others from this magical transformation. But even if we choose to deny our ego’s, there’s nothing wrong with that. Automatically, the bypass will create more and more pain, until we eventually can’t hold the pain anymore and will be forced to make the experience our soul has asked for.
We can’t make any mistakes. Everything is just the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the path our soul has chosen. And that’s why surrender is such an important aspect of life. As I said, a certain amount of pain is needed by resisting certain situations and clinging to others (resistance and attachment are essentially two sides of the same coin), but there comes a point where you can start to choose how much of the pain you want to continue experiencing. This is where the interplay between ego and soul becomes clear. The ego allows for the pain to happen, but eventually the soul has to decide when it’s time to end the suffering and accept the lesson inherent in the pain. Do you want to continue seeing yourself as a victim or do you decide to gracefully accept the lesson and move on to the next one?
I know that especially this part of the victimhood is not easily digested by most people. Many of my (former) flatmates and some of my closests friends are social rights activists who at times would have wanted to kill me for making statements of spiritual self-empowerment. I totally understand why they think this line of thinking is highly problematic, and it would definitely be if we were merely human beings. We have forgotten that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and that we’re simply acting out soul contracts. There is no oppressor and no oppressed, all there is is energy. And we choose where to place our energies and how to let them flow.
I’m not trying to say that activism or wanting to help others out of their misery is bad or in vain. No, if your soul feels called to do so, then that’s exactly what you’re meant to do. All I would like to remind you of, is the amount of pain and misery you want to put into your cause. Inequality is already painful in and of itself, to what extent does it help you to fuel this pain with anger, resentment and victimization? Next to taking your economic and social resources, you also actively allow others to take your valuable energetic resources. Obviously, I speak from a privileged position, but there are numerous accounts of people who have suffered from inhumane conditions, fatal diseases and immense emotional pain (such as Viktor Frankl, Michael Singer, Scarlett Lewis, Anita Moorjani, etc.) who have courageously shown the world that this is a phase of life you can transcend, if only you choose to recognize the freedom within yourself. Recognizing that you are the one who creates your own freedom, automatically makes you realize that you’re also the one that holds on to pain and frustration by positioning yourself as a victim.
The more we choose to consciously accept our lives and the lessons presented within, the more we will start to remember our true nature. And that’s eventually what life is about. It’s not about accumulating wealth, being happily married or enjoying status. It’s all about remembering that we’re all perfect souls embodied in an imperfect human shell. And this is why our awareness is so immensely important. Our awareness and the ability to observe ourselves and others from a distance, helps awakening the soul. The more conscious you are, the more the soul will start to remember its origin. Obviously, this remembering happens in small steps and it looks like the soul regularly falls back asleep, so it can continue learning its lessons.
The game of life is to slowly awaken your soul through your consciousness. Once your soul is completely awake, you’re game over. So, as long as you enjoy playing this worldly game, you should forgive your soul’s amnesia and allow yourself to get involved in painful and egoic situations. Eventually, our soul will automatically remember more and more often. We will hear the voice of our soul clearer and more frequently, offering us guidance to taking the right steps. This is really important to note. Many people are afraid that surrendering means giving up and staying inactive. This is simply not true! Only through surrender are you calm and quiet enough to get the impulse for the right action. How often have you reacted in the right way in a state of fear, anger or guilt? And how often has your (maybe illogical) gut feeling disappointed you?
Despite our soul’s amnesia, I’m pretty sure nearly everyone resonates with the idea that there’s more to life than we see and experience. Maybe our egos are yet afraid to acknowledge the truth behind it and that’s perfectly fine. Everyone walks their own unique path on this earthly plane, so there is no need to push anyone - or ourselves - into some insight which we simply don’t have yet and are not ready to accept. Everyone has their own time to come to the realization that all our fears and pain were (in the spiritual world) not justified, but were exactly what we needed in order to move forward. It contained precisely the lesson and the message that allowed us to do and possess whatever our unique soul had been longing for.
So, next time you find yourself in any negative emotion, realize that it’s okay where you are - even when you’re in your victimhood! This is the step your soul wanted you to take and your task is to accept and experience. There’s no pushing, no pulling, no controlling, no resisting, no attaching - simply sudderendering. Experiencing is best done with your body and not with your mind. Our mind is a powerful tool to change things which at this moment is not what we want. The mind will want to take control and will reinforce the story, making it more difficult to transcend the experience. Feeling our experience without resistance on the other hand, is what allows the energies to flow again which makes them transform. By embodying our experience, we slowly start to integrate our soul and our ego - and we become whole. We start to wake up the fact that we’re spiritual beings having a human experience and we can start to embrace both of these aspects of ourselves. We don’t feel the need to suppress any of the two which leads to a fulfilled life - full of blessed pain, blissful emotions and meaningful experiences.