The Ego and Integralism


#1

I’m curious about the community’s thoughts on the ego our relationship with it in Integralism. My own work with my ego has always been difficult (and I suspect I’m not alone): how much is necessary as a filter to interact with reality? How much is fluff trying to keep me “safe”?

Moreover, I’m really fascinated by the almost pathological emphasis on ego death in a number of spiritual traditions… especially in some of the more recent spiritual traditions that seem to make ego death an end goal (which is not the end, according to many religious traditions that entertain the concept). With the resurgence of psychedelics in the mainstream conversation, such as psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca ceremonies (both which offer some kind of deep ego analysis / death), it would seem that this trend is increasing.

I think some of my questions are: can the ego actually die (one might argue that it takes an ego to want to kill an ego)? If so, how would a person interact with the world? And would we actually want such a thing?

Or, is the goal to cultivate an awareness of ego and to take it off of “autopilot” in favor of some higher expression of consciousness? If so, how might we define that higher expression of consciousness?


#2

Hi Russ,

Great topic. First of all, we all need a healthy sense of self, or I (ego). So for myself, I have to take care of myself and my responsibilities and make sure I have a healthy me. I also have learned that I need to learn practices to transcend the ego, or my lower case s self so I can experience the Self.
I know what you mean about the ego death, but this is just not the move. I know Ken has talked about this in his books. We need a healthy self, a healthy relationship to the self-not a smashing of who we are.
I also think with the rise of psychedelics (just as with any practice) be care of your guides and what the goal is. Hopefully they are integrally informed so the focus is on transcendence.


#3

Hi Russ,

I think where some of the confusion comes in is that the ego is viewed differently in Western psychology, where it’s considered an essential and “positive” aspect of consciousness, an “I” or “self-identify” that develops or matures through stages, than it is in Eastern spiritual traditions/philosophy, where it’s considered largely as the “I, me, and mine” that is responsible for our experience of separation (from “God,” the Whole, one another, nature, the kosmos, etc.). Integralism of course focuses on, well, integrating them.

One way of considering ego death is in the context of states of consciousness, using Eastern descriptions–gross, subtle, causal, witnessing, and nondual. The egoic self-sense is typically associated with identification with the gross body/state/realm (physical, material reality). So someone who through spiritual practice/activity (or use of pschoactive plants, drugs, entheogens) experiences the subtle body/state/realm, associated with soul, can be said to have undergone an ego death (i.e. transcended identification with the egoic self-sense and gross reality, to identify with the soul self-sense and subtle reality). Whether the “death” is lasting or not, is another question.

If you have a copy of “The Religion of Tomorrow,” Chapters 12 and 13, which cover dysfunctions in moving/progressing through the states of consciousness, has great information on dying to each of the self-senses-- gross-ego, soul-self, what Wilber calls the “higher self” associated with the causal state, and the Witness self-sense, which he calls the True or Real Self. Highly recommended. (As you say, ego death is not the end in spiritual development.)

Also, in the same book, pages 443-447 discuss “the need for a soul culture,” his point being that subtle states of consciousness are already prevalent in the culture, having been jump-started in the 60s, but that identification with interior soul has been resisted or projected or otherwise not effected; hence we continue as a gross-ego or gross-reflecting culture (and individuals). You might find this subject interesting; I did, and hope to hear more about it–what exactly would a soul-culture look like? (Akin to your question about how a person would interact with the world, assuming they had experienced ego death.)


#4

That is a beautiful summary.


#5

That’s a great question and one I would like to explore. It seems there was a huge movement from the early 90s all the way to current culture with Oprah books that discuss the soul. I find his comment on the Millenials "who have made slobbering over the famous-and they are famous for only being famous a character trait (why on earth does anybody know who the Kardashians are?) to be interesting. (My opinion: It’s a symptom of the problem but certainly not the cause.) He goes on to say that millenials rank being famous over “having a good job and this indicates the soul’s vertical depth, not any horizontal skill or talent, is what is driving this allure. Projecting their depth, they see it everywhere and make following the famous a (almost literally) religious pursuit.” Basically, the culture is worshipping ego driven values. He does make the point that this ego addiction goes back to the Sixties.
I guess it doesn’t come as shock to me that the majority of millenials aren’t rejecting the Kardashians or demonstrating egocentric addictions.


#6

Hi Matt,
Let’s get this conversation going!

For people who may want to join in but who haven’t read “The Religion of Tomorrow,” my understanding of Wilber’s speculations as to why we remain an ego-oriented culture rather than a soul-oriented one are (1) that while the subtle state of consciousness, with which the soul is associated, has been and is trying to emerge in culture, it is being actively resisted, repressed, disowned, and as such, is a part of the “repressed emergent unconscious,” and from there, is projected. (So the example given of millennials idealizing famous people such as the Kardashians with a religious-like fervor can be seen as millennials (and anyone else who does the same) denying/repressing/disowning their own emerging subtle soul-self, and the depth of consciousness that indicates, and projecting it onto “hyperidealized” people (a near form of ‘hero-worship.’) So what is actually being idealized is “the greatness of a projected subtle-soul.”); and

(2) (page 446) “Another possibility is that the soul realm has actually already emerged in a fair number of people, but they have an enormous degree of ego addiction, so that the larger consciousness of the soul is being funneled (and narrowed downwardly) into merely gross egoic desires, wants, needs, and values. …(Even as Eros pressure toward interior growth and evolution continued)…the extraordinary growth in technology made the gross realm continue to yield up…more and more material things that the ego craves–a highly technologized world is an ego’s ultimate heaven.” He goes on to say that technology is the “single most exorbitant realm of substitute gratifications in today’s world…substitutes exactly for a conscious soul and Higher Self.”

So in summary, either the subtle-soul-self is being repressed/disowned by people and projected onto hyperidealized individuals, AND/OR, the subtle-soul-self has already emerged in some/many people, but they remain (secretly, perhaps even to themselves) addicted to the egoic-gross realm, with its emphasis on the sensorimotor realm, exteriors and materialism, and specifically these days, technology.

I personally have known or do know people who seem to me to “fit” each description. Some that I’ve known who dissociate or otherwise cast the subtle soul-self into a “lock box” and then project it onto others, have sometimes had a trauma history or a fear of subtle states and the subtle energy body that accompanies it, and/or have had a partially magical-mythical belief system sanctioned by their particular cultures or religions that tells them, essentially, that to get too close to (their own souls) is either dangerous or “against the rules.” (Coincidentally, Oprah has been the recipient/target of many of their projections.)

I’ll stop here for now; looking forward to this conversation continuing!


#7

Very interesting topic.
I would first be very interested in getting clear on the definition of “ego” that we are talking about, because I find that the concept is rarely clearly defined and I can think of at least 3 definitions that are all somewhat related, but not identical:

  1. “ego” as a psychological term (alongside superego, id, etc.) which seems to be similar to (3) but much more narrowly defined
  2. “ego” as it seems to be used in some spiritual traditions without being clearly defined, and having a somewhat moralistic meaning: In the narrowest definition it has something to do with selfishness, but even the way LaWanna uses it seems to fit somewhat into this category, where it is associated with gross-physical states or “desires”, all of which are labled in one way or another as “bad” or “less evolved”, etc.
  3. “ego” could also just be a very technical term, simply denoting any kind of concept of self: Any idea we hold about who we are.
    It is this last definition of “ego” that I find most interesting. Here, it doesn’t matter if we think of ourselves as “gross-physical” or “subtle” or “soul”. Every idea that we form of ourselves is ego. If our action has its root in an idea of our self (in relation to the world we act upon) then it comes from ego.
    It is clear then, that “ego” is an extremely important step in our evolution, because the only actions I can easily think of , which are not coming from ego, are those of babies and toddlers, who have clearly not developed that sense of self yet. (In fact, a lot of branches of science seem to define this type of awareness as consciousness itself–in my opinion mistakenly so, as it’s more useful to think of consciousness as the basic awareness of internality–possibly synonymous with the witness–which does not require ego or any mental concept of self.)
    So, in relation to states, I would say: if I’m sitting in meditation and experience myself dissolving and merging with everything around me, then this experience is beyond ego, but if I later build a concept of myself around this experience (“I am one with everything”) then this concept is simply a part of my ego, and this applies to all the “non-dual” concepts just as much as anything else.

So, then: Is it possible to be in this world and act upon it without an ego as defined in (3)? Would we even want such a thing?

In regards to the second question, my own answer is: yes. Ego is always limiting, as it says “I am THIS” …and therefore it says “I am NOT THAT”, and wouldn’t it be much more liberating to be this, that and the other thing, either all at the same time or as the situation requires?

In regards to the first question it seems that this would then require us to have some other place where our agency comes from–something NOT based on our idea of who we are and yet somehow allowing us to make conscious choices (otherwise it is simply pre-egoic, not post-egoic). Here the idea of “surrender” or of being an instrument of something Higher comes in, but in all my spiritual searching I have not yet found something like this in myself*, something that would take over and replace my mental decision-making instrument.
Sure: Almost every spiritual philosophy that I followed, has suggested something like that, but in my experience, each time it turned out to be one of 2 things:

  1. Just another “idea” of self from which one was supposed to act (and therefore just a modification of the specifics of ego), or…
  2. The suggestion to “surrender” to God, the Highest, etc. which then usually turned out to be a suggestion to follow the leader or the tenets of the specific philosophy without questioning; so, to replace the agency of one’s own ego with that of another ego–of course that other ego was supposed to be a pure channel of something Higher, but really? :wink: Even if that was true it would only have been a very indirect way of experiencing “beyond ego”.

I still have this vision of how liberating it could be to, if not completely be without ego, to be so unattached to the specifics of my self-concept that I could switch them like clothes: I’m a conservative. I’m a liberal. I’m whatever I want to be in the moment (not just superficially, but truly in depth, through and through)–but in this case WHO decides what I will be in the moment? I have not found another stable ground that is truly behind (or above) my regular sense of self and yet has agency and decision making power and is permanent as well. (Whenever I thought I did, it always turned out to be just a more subtle modified version of regular, good old “ego”)
I wonder what anyone else’s experience is with this?

*) To be fair, I have experienced agency from something other than ego temporarily, many times. It’s probably best described as what many call “flow states”–but these were never lasting and never completely able to take over permanently, and only in the most intense moments did they allow me to rise beyond the more subtle and ingrained aspects of my ego-sense of self. (And this usually required something quite extreme to break my attachment to these deeper aspects of ego: A spiritual process that confronted my ego head-on, or even a traumatic event–or an event that my ego would otherwise have experienced as traumatic, had it not been able to let go…never without a fight, though!)


#8

I guess I am not sure if it is accurate that we are not at some level of a soul culture. Maybe, Oprah’s super soul sunday isn’t rocketing up the nielsen ratings but there was enough of a dent made with her previous work to show there was a hunger for this “soul” culture.
@Mbohu Hi Markus- I have recently asked friends of mine if they actually can distinguish an egoic voice from a higher self voice-and some have expressed that there is no separation that it’s just one voice.


#9

There are lots of ways to have soul…


#10

Hi Matt. Yes, my problem is identifying what is actually meant by “egoic voice” and “Higher Self Voice” (or even “Higher Self”). I think these concepts aren’t really meaningful, unless we can identify what they represent in ourselves (and then communicate them to someone else in a way that that person can also relate it to something inside themselves.) Otherwise they are just concepts taken on from some religious/spiritual/new age tradition or another. The way I was defining “ego” above, I’m not sure if it has “a voice” as such. Did your friends know what you meant by the question? Do you know what they would understand as “higher self-voice”? It’s hard to talk about these things. I think there are a ton of concepts “flying around” in our culture around those things, and I am quite unsure that everyone is talking about the same things.
Without that definition, I think what many may hear is simply “egoic voice=BAD/WRONG/UNEVOLVED”, “higher self voice=GOOD/RIGHT/SPIRITUAL”

As a healer/counselor, when most people ask me “how do I know if something is coming from my higher self”, it is usually clear that what they are asking is: “how do I know that what I’m thinking is correct or good?” It’s as simple as that. And WHO wants to know that?! :wink:

And without knowing your friends, this may be incorrect, but it sounds like it may simply be that they believe in “non-duality” (as a concept) and therefore believe “separation=BAD/FALSE” and “There is only one thing=GOOD/CORRECT”. But WHO is believing that? It would STILL be the ego. They would simply have a self-concept that sees itself as a “non-dualist” and their answer would be coming from that place.


#11

So can you distinguish the voices or do you think it’s all one?


#12

Hmmm…let me try:

Going by the way I define “ego” (as the structure of “self” that exists as a concept in my mind–or probably more accurately as the root of all concepts in my mind), my first try at answering your question would simply be:
Any kind of “voice”–since it is something “speaking” in my mind–would necessarily HAVE to be the voice of my ego.
As for “higher self”: Let’s just define that as some kind of intelligence or consciousness that is not limited by the ego. So, as I have written before: While I have experienced states that seemed not to be coming from that self-definition, I have NOT been able to find something that has a consistent power of agency and decision making power (which we could call a “voice”) inside myself to replace that “voice of the ego”.

So, I guess that would mean, that for myself: I really haven’t found something that I would call “the Voice of the Higher Self”. So, it’s not that I would say they are the same, it’s just that I don’t really know anything about the latter.

Maybe what I could say for myself is: The Higher Self (what I believe you may be meaning by that term) is something that I experience more as the background of my being. It doesn’t really insert itself into my life as “a voice” in any way. The ego is the structure which holds my “I” in place and therefore would be the only thing that expresses itself as “a voice”.

Does that answer your question?

PS: I do want to say again, though, that I have the strong feeling that when most people talk about “The Higher Self” they actually are talking about an idea that exists in their minds (of a better, purer self, etc.) and as such, THAT “Higher Self” is just a component of their self-concept. Therefore it is a part of their ego. It is not something independent, much less something “higher”. I hope that makes some sense too.


#13

OK…and now let me have another try: :wink:

What I wrote above refers primarily to my day-to-day life. Like I said, I can’t say that there is a consistent presence in my consciousness that is independent from my mental structures and has the same decision-making power. That is why I wrote that I don’t think there is a voice other than the voice of ego inside myself. (now, note that to me “ego” isn’t something bad. It is simply a technical term denoting the structure upon which all my ideas and mental concepts are predicated upon)

There are however moments of inspiration, deep meditations, and some (not all!) altered states that at least seem to be completely independent of this “ego structure”. They never last and they usually do not have any long-term decision-making power in my life–but they do exist.
Maybe a simple example would be: If I do a certain type of meditation, I can go up into certain experiences of white or golden light above my head and these experiences are more or less repeatable. They do come with a tremendous sense of silence and depth and peace, and this sense can flood my being. Maybe I could call this a “voice”, even if it isn’t at all like any other “voice”. Maybe it does even have an effect on my life, that goes beyond the time of the experience itself, and so in some way it changes my life. So: If that is what we call “the voice of the higher self” (or of some level above my mental being, where I believe my ego lives) then we could say that YES. Definitely I can tell the difference because one is nothing like the other. But then this “voice” really works completely differently, and if I have an idea that I think is coming from “my higher self”, I can be certain that this was not coming from my higher self, as any idea would by definition be coming from the ego (as it is of the substance of mind.)


#14

It all sounds very confusing lol. I tend to think of ego as it’s all about me and a higher self involves surrender to uncertainty, a bigger picture, empathy towards others…


#15

Yes, there are sooooo many definitions and ideas of what ego is. Google “Freud’s 3-part structure of the psyche” (id, ego, superego) and there is the ground from which most of Western psychology takes off in order for individual developmental theorists to posit their own definitions and stages of development of this structure.

My own orientation to Eastern traditions’ idea of the ego comes from the 34 Principles of Creation (tattvas) in the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. The tattvas describe the process of involution, from the "Pure Unmanifest’ to gross manifestations such as the elements of earth, water, air, fire. The ego is part of a “3-fold psychic instrument” which includes the intellect (buddhi), the ego (ahamcara), and the thinking mind (manas). The psychic instrument is said to be “birthed” from the subject-object relations principle (Perusa/Prakrti*). The ego reinforces and is reinforced by the three malas or “impurities” which are beliefs: I am separate, I am different, I am the doer. The ego is the “I, me, and mine” that is built upon and sustained through particular identifications; to identify with something means to regard it as identical or the same as oneself. Some of these identifications are: name; the physical body and its sensations and external appearance, including race and gender; the mind’s contents (thoughts, feelings, habits, opinions, beliefs, perspectives, attitudes); personal history; possessions/things; job and other social roles; social class, status, and power; other people (spouse, friend, etc.) and role models (celebrities, athletes, leaders, etc.); nationality/flag; “causes” and political persuasions/parties; religion, As a form of spiritual practice/discipline, the idea is to witness the operations of the ego as objects of perception in one’s field of awareness, so that one’s “I” can begin to identify with the Self (i.e True Self/Witness).

As a separate-self-sense (separate from “God”), identified with such things as I named, which are all mainly exterior/right-hand phenomena, observable in the physical/material world, the ego is not “bad,” and I don’t mean to be overly moralistic in talking about it. And yet, I do associate it with the gross realm and gross body/state of consciousness, as I associate soul-self with the subtle body and state of consciousness. Wilber in “The Religion of Tomorrow,” uses the term “Higher Self” in association with the causal body and causal state of consciousness; he has in the past associated the causal body and causal state with Spirit. He calls the Witness the True Self, and the non-dual experience/self, the Real Self. I have no trouble with these terms, as I understand the bodies/states of consciousness in similar ways as he presents them, as related to ordinary waking consciousness (ego, gross body/state/realm); dreaming (soul, subtle body/state/realm), and deep dreamless sleep (higher self, causal body/state/realm).

As I’ve said in other posts, I do not think the idea is to get rid of the ego. Rather, we break the death-grip identification with it, we transcend-and-include, and the ego evolves as well.

But I do subscribe to the idea that awakening to and having a stable sense of interior soul-self is a step in state-stage development.

I agree with you that building a concept of oneself around a particular meditation experience is the work of the ego.

The main point of the discussion about our culture being mostly ego-oriented and less soul-oriented is to point to the focus we have on things outside ourselves–to exteriors, to right-hand quadrants, to physical and material phenomena–at the expense perhaps of interiors, left-hand quadrants, subtle phenomena and “the wisdom and virtue” (Wilber’s term, with which I agree) that might accompany greater soul-orientation.


#16

That is great LaWanna. I think your definition of “ego” very much matches mine.

But first, I have one question in regards to the 3 malas (by the way:“impurities” already seems a bit “moralizing” to me and most traditions are):

The way I understand these 3 would be that they are all different parts of a larger whole, which I would simply call “the mind”. Do you agree? Can you experience intellect, ego and “thinking mind” really as 3 separate things? Would you be able to describe them in your own words? What is your experience of “thinking mind” as opposed to “intellect”?
As for “ego”; the way I once drew this out for myself is somewhat like an org-chart or family-tree:
At the top you have the first originating thought: “I am (separate from everything else)”-from that then spring more specific thoughts such as “I am the body”, “I am a man”, and so on, branching off and getting more and more specific and while it keeps defining us more and more it also keeps limiting us more and more (“I am an American” and therefore not a European, African, Asian, etc.)

But here comes my point of contention: “I am a soul and not the body” is just as much part of this ego-tree as anything else; and for many this “sophisticated” thought, is actually much further down the tree, as the thought “I am the body” actually refers to a very concrete experience of “the body”, while most people do not have a clear experience of “the soul”, so this thought comes as a pure mental concept, a belief-system, if you will. The “tree” could go something like this: “I am a man”–“I am a man who studied Shaivism”-"I believe “Shaivism”-“I am a spiritual person”-“Therefore I believe I am the soul”-“I am the soul”…
To me, this is ALL part of the ego.

Now: The experience of soul is a different matter. But what is that? What is it to you? Is there an internal experience that you can pinpoint as “the soul” (an upper-left-quadrant object)? You said that you use the term to denote the dream state (and I assume meditative states that are akin to it?), and then you use “Higher Self” for the Witness or dreamless sleep (and meditative states that are like it). That is something I can understand. These are somewhat different definitions than many other people use though, I think (I doubt that Christians think of the dream state as “the soul”).

In any case, regarding “ego”, to me the interesting potential has always been the possibility to not just “evolve the ego” but to radically change, replace, dissolve and recreate it at will: If you think that the specifics of your ego are somewhat arbitrary (“I am an American” “I am a liberal” “I am an Integralist” “I am a Writer”, and on and on)…shouldn’t it be possible to detach yourself to such an extent from these limiting self-definitions that you would be able to take on a different one just as easily? (Carlos Castaneda’s “shifting the assemblage point” points in that direction and some western mystics have also described this possibility–I am certain it’s not something foreign to eastern mysticism either.)


#17

Yes, the word impurities sounds a bit quaint, perhaps, but consider that one of the definitions of ‘pure’ is “clear and true.” So the opposite of that is…well, you can see. And think of it like this: Flint, Michigan had lead in the water. That is an impurity, yes? No moralizing, just fact. Belief systems can also have impurities–“The Earth is flat.” A lot of “lead” in that statement, obviously not true. Hence, we could say there can be impure beliefs, like “I am separate from the Whole” and such.

Rather than call them “the mind” (which I’m sure I have and do), I really do think of them, in Western terms, as the ‘mental-ego complex.’ In the Tattvas again, they are 3 parts (3-fold) synthesized as the ‘psychic instrument.’ But just as they can be synthesized, brought together as a whole, they can also, as parts, be singularly analyzed.

“Thinking mind” or manas refers to the internal dialogue that tends to run on automatic. Intellect is a higher form of thought, that employs discriminatory power and discernment. I am using intellect to respond to your questions here; if I allowed the thinking mind to take over, it would go something like this: “my God, it’s later in the day than I thought. Did I pay that bill already? What am I going to serve Susan for lunch? Wonder if she has any dietary restrictions? I have so much office work to do. Glad the neighbors finally cut their weeds, wish they’d do mine. Oh my god, the sunset is so beautiful…” Ad infinitum.

Yes to that.

Yes, the actual experience of soul is of course different than having a concept of being a soul (although having a concept of what soul is may help one have the actual experience).

Subtle state of conscious and soul are UL, subtle body (having mass and energy) is UR quadrant. Dreaming is associated with subtle states of consciousness which are associated with soul, and yes, certain meditative states and other subtle states such as shamanic states of consciousness are associated with the soul. There are many interior experiences that I can identify as soul-self experience. My spiritual grounding is in the shamanic-yogic traditions, so you can extrapolate from that as to what kinds of subtle-soul experiences I may have had. One of the terms for shamanic journeying is “soul flight.” Different shamanic cultures/traditions have different explanations around soul. Iroquoian tribes, for instance, believed/believe in two souls: the physical soul which is vital essence that keeps the body alive, and the free soul, which is the soul that dreams and travels out-of-body. I know of one culture that believes in people having 4 or 5 souls, each of them with a specific purpose.

Actually, I said that Wilber in TRoT uses the term Higher Self, not for the Witness, but for the causal state of consciousness associated with deep dreamless sleep (and meditative states akin to it). These terms are not unusual for people with a foot in Eastern traditions. Some of them actually come from Eastern philosophical and spiritual texts. Some Integralist Christians resonate with some of these terms as well, but Christians on the whole, probably not.

To detach oneself from limiting self-definitions, one would practice the discipline of “stalking” in the Castaneda system, which means executing novel behavior while in heightened awareness. To move or shift the assemblage point is to change how and what one is able to perceive (the assemblage point refers to how perception is assembled)…


#18

Yes, and just to clarify: I do see that differently. Lead in the water really is an impurity. It does not belong there (ok, in some bigger sense, who knows what belongs where, but from the human perspective, it clearly is a mistake that the lead is in the water and it’s actually quite deadly)

I did not always see it that way, but it seems to me much more useful to look at the ego as an instrument that has a specific purpose and allows us to do certain things. For example, it would be completely impossible for the two of us to have this discussion, if we did not have an ego and use it to allow us to make these statements and judgements (based on each of our studies and lives, etc.)
In fact, it seems to me that our very existence on this physical plane is predicated on the existence of the ego and that ego will not truly disappear until we are done here (probably not just with this lifetime.)

So, I really see it as an instrument where nothing as such is wrong with it. It’s just limiting. Just as if we were sitting in a car and driving this same car all our life. The car works (some more than others, of course) It allows us to get from A to B. But wouldn’t it be so much more liberating if we could switch into any car we want to? Or even leave the car entirely and just wander around for a while (as a “naked” soul?)

I do very much understand how much of Eastern Spirituality sees the ego. I spent 10 years of my life as a spiritual monk in a community based on teachings having their origin in the Hindu Yoga tradition (somewhat related to Sri Aurobindo’s teachings) There is much wisdom there, but I now do feel it is similarly colored by moralistic viewpoints as much Western religions; viewpoints that have their origin more in cultural roots than in experienced truth. Of course, that is only my opinion, so comes from my own ego, in a sense.

I find it interesting that you relate the soul to dream states and shamanic states, as the words I am used to using in this regard would be more “astral world”, subtle energy bodies, etc. I always thought that most people meant by “soul” something more like the "in-dwelling spirit, Purusha, etc.
But it’s a clear definition, so it’s helpful in understanding each other better!
Your explanation of “thinking mind” as the internal dialog also clears this concept up. To me it seems like manas and ego are very intertwined. As one ceases, so does the other, in my experience, and as one changes the other one does as well (So: As my self-concept shifts significantly, I find that my internal dialog has also shifted.) Intellect, on the other hand seems more independent of this. I think in Aurobindo’s system it is an aspect of higher mind, right underneath over-mind (which is below super-mind)…but then again, these are mostly concepts for me, having no clear experience of what he meant by these latter terms. (clearly they seem to be neither subtle soul-stuff nor quite the causal)


#19

On page 540 of Religion of Tomorrow, in explaining aperspectival madness, Wilber discusses how in 1966 teenagers were asked whom they most admire" JFK, Lincoln, Washington, LBJ and Helen Keller. In 2016 it was: Obama, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Selena Gomez tied with Lincoln (pretty funny actually). My question to the 1966 generation is how come the Beatles didn’t make your list?!


#20

Ha! I find it so interesting that any presidents are on that list at all. This speaks to what a powerful myth the US has created around its political system. I was a teenager in Austria in the 70s and 80s and I cannot possibly imagine that ANY teenager would have said that “Bruno Kreisky” (the Austrian prime minister at that time) was their most admired person. That any teenager would put a political leader on that list is somewhat surprising to me (if anything I’d have suspected more someone like Che Guevara–after all many had posters of him around at that time) But again, America is so unique in democratic countries, being able to make their president into more than a political leader, more of a hero (or villain, depending on your persuasion). Usually that position is reserved for Kings or dictators, not democratically elected servants of the people.