Monitoring the Four Identity Spheres

By George A. Boyd © 2022

Q: I find that I spend a lot of time in my ego, and it is hard for me to transcend into higher perspectives. Can you give me some guidance about this?

A: There are four spheres of identity:

  • The Sphere of the Ego and your Human Life
  • The Sphere of your Self and your field of Personality
  • The Sphere of your Soul and the field of your Superconscious Mind; this is the arena of your Soul’s Expressed Purpose
  • The Sphere of your Higher Octave Ensouling Entity and its field of ministry and service

By the time you reach the seventh stage of spiritual development and your Higher Octave ensouling entity is the Soul of the Bridge Path, you are in touch with what we call, “the Master within.” This Master Soul contains and has the capacity to express the intuitive knowledge, the love and virtues, and the abilities you have gained during your spiritual sojourn through the Subtle, Planetary, Transplanetary, Cosmic, Supracosmic, and aligned Transcendental Bands of the Continuum.

You can start the process of sorting out these four spheres through meditating on each of these four spheres in turn. [Those of you who have your cutting edge of spirituality in the Planetary or Subtle Realm should exclude the Sphere of the Higher Octave Ensouling Entity.] Notice:

  • What is my state of identity in this sphere?
  • What do I perceive from this vantage point?
  • What are my abilities in this sphere?
  • What activities do I carry out in this sphere?
  • What external or internal objects, ideas, or people lead me to function in this sphere? What draws out this activity at this level?
  • What are the parameters or limitations of my functioning in this sphere?
  • What would I need to change to enhance my functioning in this sphere?
  • What hindrances or obstacles make certain activities in this sphere difficult? What might I do to remove these hindrances or obstacles, so I can improve my functioning in this sphere?

Once you can identify what activities operate in each sphere and what draws these abilities out of you, you can simply allow these activities to engage—as they are appropriate in your life, in your personality, and in the realms of the Soul and your Higher Octave ensouling entity.

With some practice, you should be able to shift at will to your identity state in each sphere, and carry out activity from that level. For example:

At the level of the Ego, you are carrying out behavior on the environment around you. This includes chores, cleaning, repairs, and the activities of daily living. These are single actions, many of which are habit-driven.

At the level of the Self, you are making choices that impact your life. You are engaged in making commitments. You are rehearsing how you will act in a future situation. You are examining your values to see if you can say yes or no to an opportunity. You are planning, scheduling, identifying salient points, and setting goals. You are problem solving, reflecting, and evaluating options available to you. You are using intuition to check in and empathize with your experience and the experience of others. You are using your freedom of choice to act on or reject alternatives for action.

At the level of the Soul, you are communicating your expressed Soul Purpose to your personality, so you can enact aspects of this purpose in human life. This may involve you getting an education, having specific experiences, undergoing selected training, or encountering certain people who will assist you and/or act as your mentor and teacher to develop skills needed for the enactment of your Soul’s purpose.

At the level of your Higher Octave ensouling entity, you are going new love, wisdom, and abilities to extend your ministry and service beyond the Subtle and Planetary Realms—into the Transplanetary, Cosmic, Supracosmic, and Transcendental levels of the Continuum. As you evolve into these higher stages of your spiritual development, your scope of potential ministry and service expand.

We point out that unless there is something to draw your higher abilities, wisdom, or love and virtue from you, it will remain dormant. If you practice one of your spiritual gifts, it will come forth. If you do metaphysical counseling or coaching, it will emerge. If you do healing, it will express through you. If you do attunements and spiritual ministry, it will shine out in you. If you teach meditation—in structured classes or in consultations—it will operate in you. If you dedicate yourself to a charitable or compassionate project that helps others, it will flow out of you.

It is not enough to learn something, practice a skill, or have an experience. Ultimately, you will need to express your learning, training, or experience as an activity that helps others. This can be a paid activity through your profession or avocation; it can be through a volunteer endeavor. It can be a structured activity like a reading, a class, a seminar, a webinar, a podcast, a weblog, or a video; it can be unstructured, like when you encounter someone who is troubled, and you help him or her.

If you are willing to serve… if you are willing to be of service… if you call upon God and say, “let me be of service… ready me to be your instrument to help those in need…” you will receive the necessary Grace and support to become someone capable of doing ministry and service… and you will touch the lives of others and be a force for love and goodness in the world.

The Gentle Art of Slipping into an Alternate Reality

By George A. Boyd ©2022

Q: So many people today seem caught up in an alternate reality. They are lost in conspiracy theories, swept away in cults, or they just believe really strange things. Are there some markers to indicate that someone is slipping into an alternate reality?

A: Perceptual and cognitive changes mark someone entering an alternate reality. Some of these markers that you may see include:

  1. Perceptual anomaly – Things seem strange or different. Your world has changed; you may not be able to put your finger on what has changed.
  2. Derealization – The initial experience of the world seeming strange morphs into a global sense that the world around you is unreal. The actors in the world seem like robots. You may view the world as if it was a matrix-like computer animation.
  3. Depersonalization – As this trance-like migration from reality continues, you may sense your own life seems unreal. You may question the motivations to which you have dedicated your efforts—whether your education or career choices make sense anymore, or if your dreams are really worthwhile to pursue.
  4. Mindset shift – At this step in the journey into an alternate reality, you reach a state of delusional conviction. A demagogue or a cult leader may convince you that you have been lied to—and this person will then promise to tell you the truth that has been hidden from you. They will program you into believing their warped version of reality, so that you look to them to inform you about what is really going on the in world. You may begin to have spurious signs that indicate the truth of what they are saying. You may have delusional “revelations” that prove to you that they are telling you the truth.
  5. Identity shift – At this stage, you will have entered that alternate reality and identify with it. You believe alternative facts about the world you have been told. You now live in the alternate reality and have disidentified with your former life. You now orient your life with new relationships with those who belong to this group, and look to the leader of this group to guide you.
  6. Delusional contagion – When you become established in the alternate reality, you may attack others who do not believe in your new worldview. You may attempt to convert others to join you in your delusional mindset and alternate reality.
  7. Paranoia – If you stay in this state of altered awareness for long enough, you may begin to resort to magical thinking. You believe you can simply wish for what your want and it will manifest. You embrace a feeling that you are omnipotent and can simply create what you want. If people push back on your beliefs, you may feel you are under attack—that others are trying to undermine your movement and drag you back into the matrix—and you can become paranoid at this stage. Alternately, you can continue to believe you are all-powerful; you become grandiose and arrogant.

When people undergo disruptive loss or experience trauma, they may become temporarily uprooted from the established routine of their lives. This can move people into stage three—they are not sure what is true anymore. They question their lives. They question their faith.

It is these people who have had these disruptive experiences that become vulnerable to the demagogues, the cult leaders, the terrorist and hate group recruiters, or the media influencers that introduce them into the mindset, and ultimately, lead them to identification with a movement anchored in an alternate reality.

Q: You mentioned cognitive changes. Can you be more specific with what happens to people’s thinking and belief when they become caught up in an alternate reality?

A: People who are grounded and anchored in their lives have seamless integration between their ego, their Self, and their Soul. The ego is the experiencer of the events of your human life; the Self is the decision maker that decides what path to follow and what goals to pursue; and the Soul expresses its gifts and genius—its super powers—through your life. These three work together: there is little internal conflict and you make progress towards your goals.

As people begin to drift off into an alternate reality, we see a corresponding shift in their cognition—in their thinking and beliefs:

  1. Empirical – Thinking is grounded in observation and experience. Your beliefs are consensually validated; you restrict your beliefs to what you can verify.
  2. Speculative – This type of thinking introduces “what if” and “what might be” scenarios for your consideration. It extrapolates from facts and infers what might be someone’s motivation, or what might be possible if someone did things differently. Used constructively, it can promote positive change or catalyze new insights. Used destructively, it can undermine a person’s sense of identity and meaning—it can attack their ego and their sense of who they are—and this can make people more susceptible to the influence of those who seek to establish them in an alternate reality.
  3. Interpretive – This type of thinking reflects upon the meaning of symbols and events. Symbols are templates of meaning: you can attribute almost any meaning to a symbol. This private interpretation helps you make sense of your world, and enables you to construct a coherent philosophy and a set of congruent values. When you begin to adopt others’ interpretations of symbols and events, you may begin to drift into the mindset established in an alternate reality.
  4. Fixed conviction – One of the signs you have entered the world of an alternate reality is when you begin to have a belief that cannot be verified empirically, and it is not amenable to refutation or criticism. You may consider these convictions as ultimate truths, articles of faith, or sacred revelations that cannot be questioned. If these core convictions have been dictated to you by a demagogue, a cult leader, or a leader of a terrorist or hate group, you may become increasing under their control.
  5. Dissociative – At this stage, you become detached from reality and enter into a trance-like state. Your belief is based on a perception in an altered state of awareness, and may be subject to distortion. If you receive ideas while you are in an altered state of awareness, moreover, you can become extremely suggestible and believe whatever you are told.
  6. Revelatory – As detachment and dissociation with your life and reality is sustained, you may begin to receive communications from a noumenal being—a spirit, a guide, or an angel—or you might receive a purported revelation from the Divine. These types of beliefs have no rational basis and cannot be verified. The most fantastic notions can be conveyed in these encounters with Spirit World.
  7. Identity distortion – At this stage, you adopt a false identity state, divorced from your native grounding in ego, Self, and Soul. You might identify as a nucleus of identity or a spiritual essence that is not aligned with your innate being. In other cases, you might believe a grandiose delusion that you are a world savior or embodiment of another archetype.

In those who embrace conspiracy theories, we commonly see that they tap into stages four, five, and six—many demonstrate fixed conviction and dissociative trance states; some are also having revelations that confirm their delusional beliefs. Cult leaders may additionally induce identity distortion in their followers.

Those who are trying to come back from their involvement with cults and prolonged immersion in an alternate reality may find our Cult Recovery Coaching Program helpful to re-own your life, your genuine values, and your sense of life direction and purpose.

Entering the World of Ideas

By George A. Boyd ©2022

Q: If I get an idea about what I might do, does this come from the Soul?

A: Ideas arise in a band of the Subtle Realm called the Manomayakosa. These sparks of inspiration interface with the Metaconscious mind.

  • This idea can stimulate the Intellect, where we call it a concept.
  • It can provide a picture of a potential solution in the Concrete Mind, where we call it a visualized outcome or goal picture.
  • It can activate the Conscience, where we call it a precept.
  • It can inspire a potential personification for the Persona, where it suggests roles, dialog, and humor, as you might express in role-play, drama, or comedy.
  • It can stir the Desire Body to commit to a cause, to take action, or to do battle.

An idea most commonly appears at the level of the Intellect, where it appears as a conceptual representation of an object, a quality, or a category. Ideas are linked together to create models that elegantly describe a subject matter, as a conceptual framework.

The dimension of quality for an idea has several layers:

  1. Intensity – This is the relative energy of an idea from mild to compelling. The energy for design for a new lamp would not be as intense as someone framing the need to vote for one’s candidate as something that will save the country.
  2. Emotion – Ideas range from non-emotionalized or strongly emotionalized. A design for a butter dish would have little or no emotion associated with it, where as a political candidate cast as the country’s savior would be powerfully emotionalized.
  3. Desire – Ideas that becomes representations of desires are called dreams. You might have an idea of what it would be like when you graduate… when you take a vacation… when you retire… and this motivates you to want to achieve this goal image. Desire-laden ideas are typically highly energetic and strongly emotionalized.
  4. Fantasy – This is the symbolic or imaginal significance of an idea. This is the fantasy you weave or the story you tell yourself of what it will be like when you realize your dream. This fantasy component becomes more energetic and emotionalized, the more closely you identify with the outcome. Fantasizing about getting your first job as a chemist, when this is strongly connected with the way you visualize yourself in the future, is experienced more intensely than weaving a fantasy about visiting Disney World—a fantasy connected with your identity and how you see yourself in the future is more compelling than having a fun time.
  5. Reception – This layer taps how you received the idea, and whether you received the idea in a way that you could remember it. The idea can spontaneously pop into your mind through inspiration. You might encounter it through other people’s communication, in conversation, in a speech or lecture. The idea might be conveyed to you through different channels—reading, audio, or video. This layer is relevant to whether the idea makes an impression on your mind and you retain it. If you learn best through listening, you might not remember the idea if it is presented as a written article.
  6. Context – Each idea is received in a particular context that helps you understand its meaning. Ideas can be presented in an environmental, social, cultural, or religious context. For example, the word “love” has many different meanings: when you are clear in which context this idea nests, you can understand the intended meaning of the person who communicated it to you.
  7. Appropriateness – An idea must be relevant and germane to your goals and dreams, or you will reject it. At this layer, you make judgments about whether an idea is realistic or unrealistic; whether it is proven through testing and evidence or it is merely a fantasy; or whether it is doable or unattainable.

The Soul can send you an idea, but it is hard to tease out the origin of where you receive an idea. If you are unsure of the origin of the idea, you might try using Receptive Meditation, where you receive information from the Soul while you are in its presence. This lets you clearly discern that you are getting this communication from the Soul.

We teach Receptive Meditation in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program. We teach a form of this meditation in our Introduction to Meditation Program that does not require you to enter a deep state of meditational absorption.

We encourage you to train yourself to identify where particular ideas arise, and to notice the qualities with which these ideas are imbued.

The Mandala of the Ego

By George A. Boyd ©2022

Q: Many spiritual teachers regard the ego as evil and they attempt to transcend it and eradicate it. In Mudrashram®, you say the ego is a complex of functions and not all aspects of the ego are bad. Can you explain this divergence of opinions?

A: If we study the ego in situ, where it dwells in the Conscious mind, we find there are nine layers of the ego. These layers, which form the mandala of the ego, consist of the following:

  1. The wheel of integration – In this first layer of the ego, the ego appears to be a hub in which the active centers of the Conscious mind unite and are coordinated. Levels of the Conscious mind that are integrated in this center include: the waking state of consciousness, the movement awareness center, the sensory center, the deep body awareness center, the feeling center, the thinking center, the egoic octave of will, the life consciousness—the awareness of the ego embedded as the actor in human life—and the preconscious.
  2. The wheel of human activity – These are twelve categories through which people organize their lives. People may share some of these categories, such as body and health, emotions and relationships, education and career, money and finances, or ethics and spirituality; however, some may have distinctive categories, such as addiction recovery, travel, or adventure.
  3. Motivational matrix – These are the underlying desires and emotions that motivate behavior in one or more of these categories. For example, you might have a desire to lose weight (body/health category), to find a new romantic partner (emotions and relationship category), to finish your degree in computer science (education category), to find a better-paying job (career and finances category), or to practice meditation or prayer daily (ethics and spirituality category). We describe this level in our book, The Practical Applications of Meditation in Daily Life and Education, and show you how to set goals for each of these areas, so you can fulfill these desires.
  4. Egoic roles – These are the “I am statements” of the ego, which organize your behavior, feelings, and thoughts into discrete roles. Some of the roles with which you might identify might be “I am a parent,” “I am a worker,” “I am a gardener,” “I am a musician,” “I am a member of a political party,” or “I am a member of a particular religion.” We teach our students in the Introduction to Meditation Program how to monitor this inner processing for each of these roles through a targeted Vipassana-style meditation.
  5. Life narrative – This is your record of achievements in your life. When you itemize your skills and experience on your résumé, you are drawing from this level of the egoic complex. On the basis of what you have achieved—or how you may have failed at some of the things you have wanted—you develop your sense of self-esteem. You feel good about yourself if you have been largely successful in attaining your desires; if you have had a lot of failure and frustration experiences, you may feel badly about yourself and you may even feel depressed.
  6. Zone of defenses – These are the defense mechanisms through which you attempt to hide your painful and negative feelings and behavior from others. These layers of mental resistance hide behavior, feelings, and thoughts about which you may feel ashamed or guilty. This wall of diversions and prevarication block others’ knowledge of your fear, your forbidden desires, your addictive cravings, your rage, your jealousy, your envy, your greed, your arrogance and narcissism that dwell in the next layer, the Shadow. To the degree you have worked through these issues in the Shadow, your defenses attenuate.
  7. The Shadow – This is where your issues actually dwell. This level of the mind has been called the personal unconscious or the lower unconscious: it is repository of the issues you have not worked out, and integrated into your ego. These mental tendencies, in many people, function autonomously to the volition operating at the level of the ego and at the level of the Self. Spiritual teachers view the ego as complex of issues in the Shadow and the layer of defenses that protect them—they seek to transcend these issues through re-identifying with an altered state of consciousness and uprooting these tendencies of mind.
  8. Egoic seed atom – This is the “wonder child” that views the beauty and goodness of the world. This is the healthy, innocent “inner child” that lives beyond the pain and struggles of the issues of the Shadow. Psychotherapy aims to help clients reclaim this part of the their nature, instead of viewing the world through the distorted lens of fear, paranoia, anger, shame, and arrogance. This seed atom tunes up as the Soul evolves.
  9. Spiritual ego – This part of the mind identifies with a higher spiritual essence and compares its development to others. People who identify with their cosmic consciousness nucleus of identity might feel superior to those who have not awakened this aspect of their nature; they might feel jealous that another disciple seems to be able to spend more time with their Guru. This part of the mind loses touch with normal human boundaries; it can become grandiose, narcissistic, and arrogant. While disciples of some spiritual teachers transcend the layer of defenses and the Shadow with their spiritual practices, this subtlest aspect of the ego can creep in and vitiate their humility and other spiritual virtues.

In our soon-to-be-released e-Book, A Compendium of Articles on the Ego, we discuss these nine levels and show you ways you can strengthen the healthy aspects of your ego and begin to work with its negative aspects. We believe that it is important to consider the entire egoic complex, and not merely select the negative parts of the ego.

A functional ego enables you to carry out normal behavior in the environment around you. When the ego is compromised, your behavior becomes abnormal and dysfunctional. Your task is not to destroy the ego, but to domesticate it, so it can carry out the direction of your Soul—and you can be of service and enact your Soul’s Expressed Purpose in your human life.

Resolving Confusion

By George A. Boyd © 2022

When you are confused, it is difficult to make a decision… it is difficult to know what is true… it is difficult to know what to believe. Confusion stops you from moving forward in your life, because you are not clear about what you need to do.

Clarity is the antidote for confusion. You know what you need to do. You know what are your values that you hold to be true. You know what you believe about the next step for your life.

You may wish to visualize the confusion is like the surface of a turbulent storm; and clarity is like the calm eye of that storm. Your journey to clarity must pass through that turbulence to the serene center beyond it.

Let’s look at the layers of confusion:

  1. Immobility – Your action is frozen; you feel you cannot move forward. You have ideas that swirl in your head; you cannot make a decision. You don’t know what to believe; different opinions rankle in your mind, and argue with one another.
  2. Collection – You resolve to move out of confusion. You collect your attention. You get ready to take action, when you are clear what to do. You become willing to examine your values and beliefs to find out what is resonant truth.
  3. Monitoring – You simply observe the beliefs and different voices that arise in your mind, and allow them to arise and pass away. You settle down into a place of greater calm, stillness, and centeredness. You choose to be and just observe.
  4. Introspection – You ask your conscience what its truths are, and you take each value and let the conscience examine it to ascertain if it is true. If it is not true, you jettison it. You notice which beliefs you can verify: if you cannot verify a belief, you set it aside as a currently unverifiable hypothesis. You make a list of potential actions you could take: you brainstorm what you might do, without committing to do any of the options.
  5. Discernment – You identify what outcome you are seeking to achieve. You notice which of the potential actions you have listed you could take could get you that outcome. You notice if you are missing anything that you need to carry out this activity. For example, is there something your need to know? Is there a skill that you need to learn or can you hire someone who has that skill? Do you have the money to do what you need to do? If not, where might you secure these funds?
  6. Tentative plan – You get a vision of what you want to achieve and alternate pathways to reach that objective. You evaluate each plan for its pros and cons, its benefits and risks.
  7. Taking action – You decide which option you will select. You are clear about what you believe, what your values are, and what you will do to move forward. At this stage, you have the requisite clarity to change your situation and know what your next step is.

You can get out of the storm of confusion through following these steps. If it is hard to do this on your own, an experienced coach or psychotherapist can walk you through these steps. You can catalyze this process through:

  1. Notice that you are confused. Recognize what you are experiencing is confusion.
  2. Decide that you are going to resolve the confusion… that you are going to move from not knowing what to do to knowing what to do and then carrying out that action.
  3. Sit with the feelings and thoughts that are swirling in your mind and observe them. Let them settle out until you come to a place of calmness and centeredness in your mind.
  4. Take each belief that arises and ask, “Is this true?” “Do I know this to be true?” Put aside any beliefs that you cannot verify as true. Next, ask: “What is true for me?” You want to become aware of your genuine values and truths. You will act from this bedrock of your integrity.
  5. Think about what you want to achieve. Notice the rankling thoughts and beliefs that formed the storm wall of your confusion are each either (a) suggestions for potential actions you might take, or (b) considerations that might discourage you from taking certain actions. Notice if any of these proposed solutions in this cloud of thoughts and beliefs will help you achieve your goal.
  6. You begin to formulate different plans that can create movement from where you are now to what you want to achieve. You notice if anything is holding you back, and you develop a way to rectify this issue.
  7. When you know the path you will take, you take action: this will create the movement that will change your current situation. Even if it is a baby step, it is movement, and that will get you out of the place of being stuck and not knowing what to do.

We teach Vipassana meditation to assist you with step three of this process, and Dharma Yoga to facilitate moving through step four in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

You may draw upon your own resources, when you have made decisions and made changes in your life, for steps two, five, six, and seven. Notice you have made changes in the past; you can apply your decision-making power to make changes in your life now and get yourself out of confusion.

If you are currently in a state of confusion, you don’t have to stay there. There is a path to clarity and movement: may you find that path now.