Getting Ready for the Spiritual Path

By George A. Boyd ©2020

Q: When does someone become mature enough so they can embrace the spiritual Path?

A: If you examine what governs people’s lives, we can characterize seven major stages:

  1. Whim governs your life – You act on any idea that occurs to you. This leads to chaos and disorganization, and you seldom achieve anything worthwhile.
  2. Other people dictate what you do in your life – In this stage, other people define your life, and tell you what you should be, do, and have. This leads to a life where you feel empty and inauthentic.
  3. Passion governs your life – You pursue a primary passion: for example, making money, being famous, becoming powerful, or making love to beautiful women or men. In this life pattern, you do whatever it takes to realize your desires and dreams, regardless of how it affects you or others. You feel temporary pleasure when you realize one of your desires, but then emptiness and boredom set in. [Some people operating at this stage use alcohol and drugs and constant distraction to deaden these unpleasant, underlying feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and phoniness.]
  4. A quest for meaning governs your life – You dedicate you life to uncover your genuine values. You jettison the false values of materialism and other people’s programs for your life, and you begin to discover who you are. At this stage, a humanistic counselor, an existential therapist, or a coach can help you discover your genuine Self.
  5. You govern your life through aligning your goals to your core values – Once you know who you are as a human being, you can create a life based on what you truly want to achieve—a life that gives you real satisfaction and fulfillment. At this stage, you can also benefit from coaching, which can support you in reaching the vision of your future that you visualize for yourself.
  6. Spiritual awakening reframes who you know yourself to be – You enter this stage when you have an out of body experience, a peak experience, a psychedelic encounter with a god-like part of you, an infilling of the Holy Spirit, or the rising of your Kundalini. When this occurs, you have a glimpse of something greater than your personality. [People react to this experience in one of two ways: (a) It frightens them, and they seek to shut down the experience—they may believe they have experienced temporary insanity and they get medication from a psychiatrist. (b) They explore this experience further, and try to understand what happened to them—this openness to go deeper into this experience, we call the neophyte stage of the spiritual Path.]
  7. You dedicate your life to the spiritual quest and inner development – If you choose to explore this initial awakening experience more deeply, you begin the aspirant stage of the spiritual Path. During this phase, you discover your true spiritual essence and your Soul Purpose. Those who achieve this reorientation around this higher spiritual essence enter the next phase, discipleship. During discipleship, you develop the spiritual essence with which you identify along its track, until you reach the Other Shore of Mastery and Liberation.

Spirituality is not something you can natively integrate until you have passed through the first five stages.

At stages one to three, you are living a life that is not real, that is not authentic. You have to let go of these patterns of idle imagination, the agendas of others, and the addictive fascination with the bright shining illusions of materialism. Each of these externalizes you, and alienates you from your genuine Self.

At stages four and five, you discover your genuine Self, and begin to found your life on your real values—not the values of others. At this level, you can benefit from psychotherapy, counseling, and coaching.

At stage six and seven, you reach beyond your personality to experience your transpersonal life, and you embrace your spirituality.

Your questions about who is mature enough to enter the spiritual Path?

Those who dwell at stages one to three are not ready for spirituality—they’ve not even discovered who they are.

Those at stages four and five are building the foundation for spirituality through constructing the bedrock of character and a life established on living their genuine values.

Stages six and seven can be entered in a stable way once the personality has been made ready.

Q: How can Mudrashram® assist others in this process of embracing their spirituality in a stable way?

A: We can assist others at some of these stages; but at other stages, people are outside of our ability to assist them. For example:

At stage one, those whose lives are governed by whim follow a path that leads to madness. These need the help of a social worker, a psychiatrist, and a psychotherapist. These are outside of our purview: those at this stage are not candidates for the spiritual Path.

At stage two, those whose lives are governed by others, often experience abuse at the hands of others. Those who direct their lives might be:

  • Parents who raise them in a dysfunctional family
  • Religious, political, or terrorist groups that re-parent them to follow this group’s leader’s agenda

We can assist these ones through our dysfunctional family or cult recovery coaching programs. These programs are designed to help these people rehabilitate their lives, so they can find wholeness, and be ready to embark on their spiritual journey.

At stage three, those who are near the end of their dance with an addictive passion—and have tried to deaden their feelings with alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, or thrill seeking—can receive value from our addiction recovery program. When they have uncovered the real issues that made them pursue their addictive patterns and address them, they can re-own their genuine Self and rise to the level when they can become open to their spirituality—to pursue what 12 step groups call the 11th step.

Those at stage four and five, who are seeking an authentic life, will find our life coaching program helpful. Indeed, in each of our coaching programs, we give exercises to help those who are taking the programs explore the deep questions of stage four.

However, our true strength in Mudrashram® is guiding others through the aspirant Path, and leading them through their disciplic journey to Mastery and Liberation. We do this through our beginning, intermediate, and advanced meditation classes that teach others how to awaken spiritually and how to transform themselves to reach their highest spiritual potential.

Q: Who influences people at stage two? Who governs their lives?

A: There are several scenarios through which people come under the control of others. These include:

  1. Parenting – dysfunctional family upbringing leaves lasting issues you must work to overcome
  2. Peers – getting involved with gangs and criminality leads you into involvement with the criminal justice system and the dangerous criminal underground
  3. Politics – political cults that develop around charismatic political figures can take charge of every aspect of your life
  4. Religion – religious cults that develop around charismatic religious and spiritual leaders can dictate every aspect of your life—behavior, beliefs, values, choices, and life direction
  5. Radicalized groups – terrorist groups that form around doctrines of hate and prejudice can waylay your life and lead you to acts of violence and crime
  6. Military and police – militaristic groups can program your life to regard others as the enemy; you are ever vigilant and ready to go into battle with the enemy, forgetting about your own life in the process
  7. Media – Influential media personalities can shape your beliefs and values; this is typically a gateway to involvement to scenarios three, four, or five.

Q: How do you avoid letting others shape and govern your life?

A: Until you know who you are and what you stand for—it’s very easy for others to control you. Look beneath the surface, and you’ll discover they are manipulating you through fear, shame, and guilt to enact their agendas. They give love and approval if you do what they want; they make you afraid, shame you, threaten you, and make you feel guilty if you do not.

Q: How do you get free?

A: Well first, you have to leave: get out of the arena of their influence. You need to find a safe place where they cannot find you.

Next, you have to heal and discover through you are and what you stand for. This isn’t an easy process: it’s hard and often painful. It means you have to look at each way others used and manipulated you. A therapist or support group can help you do this.

Q: It seems like most of this process to awaken to spirituality is a personal journey.

A: Yes. You have to genuinely know who you are before you can authentically embrace your spiritual nature.

When cults get a hold of you, they can lift you into the spiritual realms, but they do so before you discover who you are as a human being.

In this case, you are readily hypnotized, manipulated, or programmed to carry out the cult leader’s agenda, instead of living your genuine human and spiritual potentials.

So instead of living the core values of your life, you’re living to bring people to Jesus or to enlist people to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. You don’t know who you are or your genuine Soul Purpose—rather, they are giving you an identity and having you carry out their purpose.

That’s why it’s important for you to reach personal maturity before you start the spiritual Path. This enables you to free yourself from other people’s thrall and start from step one—knowing who you are and knowing what you stand for.

You can achieve the first step, knowing who you are as a person through psychotherapy, coaching, and our Introduction to Meditation Course. You can learn to awaken your authentic spirituality—your attentional principle and spirit—and unfold your Soul’s spiritual potentials in our intermediate courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

The Seven Rays and Thematic Life Issues

By George A. Boyd © 2003

Human lives pass through seven stages, which are described below.

  1. Degenerate – lives marked by lack of conscience, cruelty, selfishness, harm to self, others and the community; criminal and barbaric lives
  2. Chaotic – lives marked by severe conflict, confusion, or madness, difficulty in sorting out inner priorities and interpersonal turmoil, often marked by dysfunctional family environment, struggle with addictions
  3. Thematic – lives relatively well adjusted to the ambient culture, but with repeating patterns of frustration, self-sabotage, and limitation with discrete issues
  4. Revelatory – lives devoted to pursuit of meaning, self discovery and overcoming limitation; these lives are growth-oriented, embrace experimental risk-taking to act and think in new ways, and achieve profound, life-transforming insights
  5. Steady effort – after several lifetimes of effort towards fulfilling Soul Ray purposes, these individuals enter with gifts and talents, which they steadily improve and earn their fortune and fame with these gifts
  6. Great achievement – these individuals are true luminaries, and leave lasting contributions to their culture and to humanity. These areas of achievement across the Rays are:
    • First Ray – Political/military/legal or legislative achievement
    • Second Ray – Teaching/counseling/psychotherapy achievement
    • Third Ray – Philosophical/scholarship/business management achievement
    • Fourth Ray – Artistic/musical/entertainment achievement
    • Fifth Ray – Scientific/research/technological achievement
    • Sixth Ray – Self-mastery/religious/spiritual achievement
    • Seventh Ray – Understanding of principle or truth/application/dissemination of their discovery through communication or marketing
  7. Avataric– lives of liberated, God-realized beings who incarnate Divine Love, Grace, and Power.
    Degenerate lives are ego-polarized, unchecked by the Self or spiritual influence.

Examining these lives, it appears:

  • Chaotic lives represent the transition between ego-polarization and more integrated self-directed lives.
  • Once the Self gains ascendency over the ego, the individual enters thematic lives where he or she is confronted with patterns that keep repeating, over which volition has little or no control.
  • After enduring and accepting these patterns, the individual may shift into the active questing of a revelatory life, that emphasizes overcoming these limiting patterns, and may result in profound realizations, through which they release these karmic issues and transcend them.
  • With the freeing up of energy bound in self-defeating patterns, the individual is able to make steady progress in Soul Ray areas of development, moving ahead by learning academic knowledge, acquiring experiential skill, achieving cognitive insight and understanding through creative mastery of the subject matter.
  • After several lives of progressing steadily along these lives, these individuals begin to develop refined talents and gifts of genius in these areas. This sets the stage for lives of steady effort, marked by expression of these talents and gifts. These individuals may become teachers, mentors, or coaches for others, assisting them to develop their own gifts and talents.
  • Some of these individuals press on to reach the fulfillment of development along these lines, and we see the flowering of genius in lives that inspire and move the multitudes in lives of great achievement. In some of these profoundly gifted individuals, multiple trends of genius combine to create unique hybrid combinations, thus we may see twin trends of spirituality and art give rise to poet saints, like Kabir or Rumi, or the blended politics and spirituality of a Gandhi, and other combinations.
  • When all tracks have been developed and all karmic issues worked out, the Avatar incarnates the infinite potentiality of humanity. This quickens the development of each individual and germinates new creativity within the collective mind of humanity. The reappearance of an Avatar lifts humanity onto a new plateau of cognition and ability; their perennial advent ensures that the course of growth and development of human lives will follow the overshadowing guidance of the Divine Plan.

Meditation upon these life trends will permit the disciple to identify the key strategies for maximizing the opportunities of his or her current human life. Understanding these patterns of human life will point out the subsequent work that is required to produce the fulfillment and full flowering of human life.

Thematic Lives

Thematic lives have special relevance to the work of a psychotherapist and we will explore them in greater depth here. It is these individuals suffering from personality disorders, neurotic relationship styles, and adjustment crises, when they appear in the therapist’s office are stubbornly resistant to change. The challenge for the psychotherapist is to catalyze their movement through:

  1. Guiding them into reflective thinking
  2. Having them consider the life consequences of their behavior
  3. Helping them uproot their defenses that prevent insight and the emergence of painful feeling, which leads to gradual dismantling of these self-defeating patterns and their replacement by healthier patterns of thinking, acting, and relating to others.

Thematic issues of life involve certain irrational or destructive behavior that continually repeat for an individual, so that he or she faces them again and again in different contexts.

These life themes range from pathological intensity, where they destroy relationships, sabotage career success, and dash hopes and dreams to simply annoying personality traits.

These annoying personality traits appear only occasionally, arising only in certain contexts that are novel or stressful, or where opportunities for indulgence of the trait exist.

More severe thematic issues appear as personality disorder, and severe adjustment issues to the clinician; however, few of these individuals recognize they have these character flaws.

When confronted about these flaws, individuals typically rationalize or justify them, or deny them out of shame.

These traits are often ego-syntonic, meaning that these individuals accept them as a characteristic of the personality without criticism or complaint.

It is only when the individual recognizes they cause problems and pain for self and others that he or she may begin to attempt to change them. This can spur the individual to enter a reformative lifestyle where he or she begins to work on changing the self.

On the other hand, when these patterns worsen and begin to consume the individual, they can lead him or her downward into chaotic and degenerate lifestyles. For example:

  • The con-man may degrade into a thief and criminal
  • The seductive person may become a prostitute or sexual addict
  • The person with issues about assuming power may change into a dictator or tyrant
  • Bully/victim dyads may degenerate into battering and abuse
  • The immoderate user of alcohol and drugs may degenerate into a full-blown addict.

It may be noted these patterns occupy a good deal of an individual’s time and energy. While severe problems can consume up to 90% of a person’s active waking life, annoying personality traits may only be present as little as 10% of the time. To the degree that the individual exhibits these traits do they become disruptive and self-sabotaging, causing pain and misery for self and others.

Over 90%, these patterns typically transform into chaotic and degenerate expressions. Under 10%, they typically do not cause enough problems to warrant notice or correction, and tend to be situation-based and not persistent.

Meditating across the Rays, these 49 thematic issues are as follows:

Ray 1

  1. Superiority/inferiority issues; issues with attracting bully/victim dyads in relationships, at work, and other areas of life
  2. Warrior: pride/guilt issues over killing others while protecting one’s country
  3. Courage vs. fear in making life choices
  4. Accidental or unintentional injury to others/remorse and retribution
  5. Assumption of power issues, decisions that must harm others for the good of the community; the choice whether to enrich oneself by utilizing the privileges of power and misusing community funds
  6. Control vs. letting go issues in relationships, difficulties with trusting the partner to be responsible and reliable
  7. The will to conquer others/the pain of loss and failure when one loses a battle or does not win over others in competition

Ray 2

  1. Inability to learn certain subjects or skills
  2. Resisting influence of others to become individualized/integrity issues over following others advise instead of one’s own, may be overly dependent on the advice of others and become continually dependent
  3. Losing oneself in others (codependency) and neglecting one’s own needs (martyr)
  4. Issues with collective ignorance, racial or ethnic discrimination, prejudice, either as perpetrator or as victim
  5. Issues with incompletion of education or training, difficulty obtaining and keeping employment, leading to an impoverished lifestyle
  6. Promiscuity, patterns of infatuation then abandonment, difficulty in sustaining relationships, compulsive sexuality
  7. Fear of success/failure to complete goals and intentions

Ray 3

  1. Dogmatism, insistence that others believe the same as oneself
  2. Perfectionism, obsession with accuracy and detail
  3. Greed, loss of perspective in acquisition of wealth and possessions
  4. Infidelity, failure to keep commitments to others in relationships
  5. Lack of judgment or reality testing, eschewing of responsibility by taking refuge in reverie or fantasy
  6. Lack of discernment, extreme gullibility—becoming seduced by salesmen or con-men, buying things that one doesn’t really need due to wishes to please sales people
  7. Loss of freedom by involvement with charismatic individuals, embracing fanaticism and cultism

Ray 4

  1. Life is ruled by superstition and myths, lack of discernment or objective, empirical knowledge
  2. Grandiosity and narcissism, believing the world revolves around oneself
  3. Gender identity issues, issues with homosexuality [or alternative sexual identity] in a heterosexual culture
  4. Dedication of life to artistic pursuits, failure to achieve material security
  5. Insistence that art follow certain standards, criticism of others’ artistic efforts, tolerance of only certain fashions, designs, musical styles; may persecute others who express that deprecated form of art
  6. Obsession with achieving a certain look, sound, texture, quality that requires continual reworking and revision of artwork—one is never satisfied with one’s productions
  7. Failure to express or develop artistic talents because of fear, shame, necessity to earn a living; failure to express the Soul

Ray 5

  1. Rebellion, refusal to follow rules or procedures or obey authority, that leads to continual confrontation with others, leading to loss of jobs, fighting, even incarceration. Besides willful defiance and insubordination, this can also take the form of passive aggression.
  2. Problems controlling temper, raging at others when things don’t go one’s own way
  3. Overbearing jealousy, obsession with the behavior and whereabouts of one’s sexual partner
  4. Gossip and backbiting, absorption in the intimate affairs of others, talking negatively about others, spreading tales about others
  5. Destructive criticism of others, holding that only one’s own views and beliefs are correct
  6. Continual dissatisfaction with one’s appearance, housing, possessions, income, and success; envy of others who are doing better, with continual drive to emulate them; ‘keeping up with the Jones’ syndrome
  7. Forgetting important information resulting in accidents, poor performance on tests, inconvenience, and interpersonal embarrassment

Ray 6

  1. Inability to find a life mate or sexual partner, loneliness and lovelessness
  2. Vanity, overvaluing of one’s beauty and abilities, leading to rejection by others
  3. Issues of being continually ridiculed, put down, or embarrassed because of one’s looks or one’s behavior over which one has no control
  4. Isolation, fear and mistrust of others, becoming an eccentric recluse
  5. Obsession over weight and slimness, and over achieving an ideal body look; may also involve repeated plastic surgeries to retain an ideal youthful appearance
  6. Packrat syndrome, obsession with collecting information or possession, inability to let go of them
  7. Laziness and sloth, failure to motivate oneself to make constructive actions when opportunities exist; this may take the form of willful avoidance of effort

Ray 7

  1. Need for others’ approval and attention, show off syndrome, seeking to be flamboyant, sexy, daring with an aim to make others’ envious or jealous
  2. Not thinking through ideas for business enterprise, leading to continual business failure and loss of investment
  3. Con-man syndrome, using others gullibility or lack of knowledge to enrich oneself despite bringing pain and misery to others, rationalization of one’s acts
  4. Absorption in occult thinking and arcane symbols of pseudo sciences, use of astrological or scriptural predictions to guide all life decisions
  5. Using one’s beauty and seductiveness to get what one wants, thinking about oneself as a sexual object wanted or rejected by others, obsession with sexual performance and enhancing pleasure; for men, may appear as the Don Juan syndrome, using the seduction of women as a self-esteem booster
  6. Immoderate use of alcohol or drugs leading to difficulty in relationships and at work
  7. Thrill seeking, dangerous risk taking for excitement; may take the form of compulsive gambling or wagering, leading to repeated personal injury or loss of money

Therapists have been trained to recognize the clinically significant expressions of these 49 thematic patterns. Where a therapist truly begins to make a difference, I believe, is when he or she can help the individual shift from lives of mechanical repetition of these destructive patterns to lives of self awareness of the power to change and grow. If each therapist could catalyze 1,000 such individuals over the course of his or her career, the results would transform society.

More realistically though, these individuals typically resist all attempts at intervention and do their best to evade discovery and capture like wary insects. They are perhaps a therapist’s toughest challenge, yet when the therapist is able to succeed in catalyzing growth, it is probably one of the most rewarding experiences a therapist can have.

Those therapists who wish to learn more about the role of using meditation to catalyze insight and therapeutic movement, will like our book, “Meditation for Therapy: Theory and Application”. Those who wish to take a deeper dive into applying meditation in therapy will benefit from taking our Meditation for Therapists Practitioner Certification Course.

Filters on Perception Revisited

By George A. Boyd © 2020

Q: What makes people’s perceptions of the world so different?

A: There are seven major filters that operate in the mind. These are:

  1. Neurological filter – Neurons grow and interconnect based on your experiences and learning.
  2. Subconscious memory filter – You sift perception through what you have experienced, and relate the events of your lives to what you already know.
  3. Intellectual filter – You learn certain things about the world through your education and study. Those who learn different things make different models of the world.
  4. Philosophical filter – When you inquire about life’s deep mysteries in your quest for meaning, your intuition may give you answers unique to you.
  5. Veil of the causal body (Karmic filter) – These are the patterns of your karma that give rise to the issues and challenges that color your perception of what is possible to attain and achieve.
  6. Focal point of meditation (attentional filter) – The content you experience in meditation depends on where you focus your attention. For example, you experience different content if you focus your attention on the Moon Soul nucleus of identity than when you focus on the Supracosmic seed atom of a Supracosmic Path.
  7. Cosmological contextual filter – Depending on the personal or spiritual essence with which you identify, the level of the Continuum of Consciousness in which you appear to dwell conditions what archetypes or dimensional strata of the mind you perceive. The possibilities of knowledge (what you can know), love and virtue (how you relate to others), and ability (what you can do in that perspective) vary between different cosmological contexts.

These seven filters make you an individual unlike anyone else. But despite your individuality, there are things that you do share with others.

For example, sometimes you will share common experiences and learning with others, or your intuition gives you the same answers that others hold. Perhaps you are meditating on the same spiritual Path as someone else, and identify with the same spiritual essence.

While you do have these shared, overlapping experiences, there are many aspects that are unique to you.

We suggest that you contemplate each of these filters to notice how it influences your perception. Then consider, what would you experience if that filter weren’t there? [For number six, consider what you might behold if you placed your attention on another level of the Great Continuum of Consciousness, on another spiritual Path than the one you currently know.]

In one of the modules of our intermediate mediation programs, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program, we have our students do chants from different spiritual traditions, so they can glimpse alternate zones of the Great Continuum of Consciousness, where different groups perform their spiritual practices.

If you are an open-minded explorer of your inner worlds, you may be able to discover how others perceive the world as they do—and how this perspective may be startlingly different than the one you embrace. You also then discover how their perception colors their values, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior, and makes them the unique individuals they are.

As you behold them embedded within their contexts of relationships, the groups to which they belong, and the worldview that they embrace, you can begin to grasp the complex filters through which they orient themselves to reality—and create a vision of the world so very different than your own.

Reflections on the Ego

What Is the Ego?

By George A. Boyd ©2019

Excerpted from A Compendium of Articles on the Ego

We can consider the ego in seven different contexts:

  1. Function – the ego’s activity as the integration center of the Conscious mind
  2. Motivation – the ego’s nexus of desires arranged in 12 areas
  3. Life story – the history of your significant life events and achievements
  4. Psychological armoring – the layer of defenses that protect you from experiencing painful or shameful memories
  5. Core psychic wounds – these are the painful and shameful unresolved issues that make up your shadow
  6. Wonder child – the aspect of your ego that is in touch with the Soul, and expresses wonder and delight
  7. Spiritualized ego – this aspect of your ego identifies with a spiritual essence, and then compares you to others’ development in this area—this aspect of the ego may generate feelings of superiority or inferiority to others through comparison of spiritual attainment, acquisition of spiritual powers

These layers of the ego are described in greater depth in our article, “Reflections on Eckhart Tolle.”

“When Tolle speaks of the ego, he paints a picture of this essence as malevolent, devious, manipulative, and the source of all human ignorance, misery, and pain. This is an accurate portrayal of the ego as many people experience it in one of its postures, the Shadow, but does not capture the other six postures of the ego—which are not entirely evil as Tolle depicts.”

“These seven postures of the ego are described below.”

  1. The Embodied Ego – This is the structure or chakra system of the ego in expression. These chakras include the waking state of awareness (feet), movement awareness (base of spine), sensory awareness (navel), deep body awareness (solar plexus), emotional awareness (heart), rational mind awareness (throat), “egoic will” (point between the eyebrows), and the sense of identity surrounded by the 12 areas of human life (brain). The egoic will in this context is the ability to initiate individual units of behavior—for example, tie your shoes, stand up straight, walk over to the counter and pour a glass of water. The 12 areas of human life comprise the zone of the Operational Ego, which is the second posture of the ego. At the level of the Embodied Ego, you intuitively experience the present time at each of these centers.
  2. The Operational Ego – This is the constellation of identity that captures the roles the ego plays in your life. These are mapped into 12 different areas—while each individual may label these categories and organize their contents differently, the general structure of 12 areas appears to be a stable component of the Operational Ego.
    1. Physical body
    2. Vitality and health
    3. Emotions and relationships
    4. Home and family
    5. Education and mental development
    6. Career and avocation
    7. Finances
    8. Social life (recreation and social activities with friends and family)
    9. Civic engagement and community involvement
    10. Cultural experiences and travel
    11. Ethical foundation and values
    12. Spiritual, religious, or philosophical life

In the Operational Ego, you experience the ambition to improve yourself and to attain what you desire, and to strive for what you want.

  1. The Developmental Ego – this is the state of identity that develops over time, and progressively integrates and identifies with a broader range of capabilities and abilities. These range from the highly dependent infant, to the capable, independent adult, to the caring parent, to the individual who can look out for the welfare and issues of the entire world. This is the experience of where you are in your life right now, and the capabilities you have developed. You draw upon this level when you summarize your educational and work experiences on a curriculum vita or résumé.
  2. The Defensive Ego – At this level, you attempt to maintain a positive image of yourself. This might be construed as keeping up a positive self-concept, to preserve your reputation and honor, or to adhere to an ideal image of your self (ego ideal). When you are criticized, attacked, or belittled, this defensive ego generates excuses, rationalizations, arguments, and a series of defenses to protect your self-concept. This defensive armor can be stirred to protect any area in which you feel weak or vulnerable, and may be extended to defend not only your reputation, but also to your possessions, your family, your job, your membership in different groups, and your values and faith.
  3. The Shadow – this is the unconscious level of the ego, and comprises the unconscious defenses that keep these painful and shameful aspects of the mind out of awareness. These unconscious mental patterns drive human obsession, craving, and suffering, and may appear to act autonomously, outside the control of your volition and intention. Many spiritual teachers, Tolle included, target this aspect of the ego and promote spiritual practices, such as mindfulness, “being present,” and remaining in “the present time” to overcome this suffering. When you tap this level, you experience identification with your suffering, fear, shame, anxiety, or depression.
  4. Egoic Seed Atom – This aspect of the human mind is tuned up as the Soul evolves. It is a state of wonder, of delight, of a joyful inner child that sees the beauty of everything around you. Perhaps Jesus was referring to this state when he said, “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you,” and “you must become as a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” You experience a heavenly world of magic and wonder when you are in this state of awareness.
  5. Subtle Egoic Identification – This aspect of the ego enables you to identify with a spiritual essence, and then to form certain beliefs, attitudes, and judgments about self and others when you are in this state of identification. For some, it gives then a sense of superiority, of specialness, of being a member of an elite group. For others, this takes the form of comparing their progress with others, and being dissatisfied with the rate and quality of their spiritual progress. For others, it is a belief that they are flawed; that they are demented and blind worms that can never gain enlightenment or receive the blessings of God. For others, it can become a sense of narcissism and grandiosity—that they are a Divine Being incarnate, and they are entitled to special treatment, and the worship and obedience of others.

“The belief that one has been born again and has adopted a new state of identity carries along with it this subtle egoic identification. When people say, for example, they are Christians, Yogis, Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists; they are activating this subtle form of identification.”

“This new state of identification can become a pseudo-personality, as UCLA researcher Dr. Jolyon West called it, and take on a life of its own—divorced from the genuine feelings and issues of human life.

“When people dwell in pseudo-personality, they live a spiritual agenda instead of their authentic lives. They adhere to a sense of purpose that a spiritual teacher defines; or a lifestyle that a Divinely inspired scripture commands, or that is revealed through inner communion with an advanced spiritual being through inner visions, revelations, and channeled or prophetic messages. When they are so “inspired and guided,” they no longer inhabit their own lives; they are committed instead to follow a spiritual path, whose precepts inculcate what they should choose, think, and believe, and how they should act.”

Methods to Transcend the Ego

“There are a variety of inner centers on which you can focus your attention that allow you to transcend your ego. Here is a partial list:”

  • The atom of eternity (vehicular seed atom)
  • The attentional principle
  • The Self (personal integration center)
  • The spirit
  • The wave of the present time on the Akashic Ether
  • The Star Seed in the Psychic Realm (vehicular seed atom)
  • The Moon Soul or Christ Child (nucleus of identity)
  • The Solar Angel (nucleus of identity)
  • The Soul Spark or Soul (ensouling entity)
  • Cosmic consciousness (nucleus of identity)
  • Cosmic soul awareness (nucleus of identity)
  • Astral Soul (ensouling entity)
  • Supracosmic seed atom (nucleus of identity)
  • Supracosmic Soul (ensouling entity)
  • The spirit on one of the Transcendental Paths
  • The ensouling entity on one of the Transcendental Paths

“Transcending the ego allows you to view it from a detached viewpoint, and to dis-identify with it. This shift is from being the actor in your life to a passive spectator of your life.”

“Like a trance state in hypnosis, when you enter these internal focal points, you passively view the content of the mind that makes up the ego, but you don’t interact with it. You retain the ability to objectively observe your ego from this detached standpoint, as long as you remain in this altered state of awareness. When you return your attention to its ground state in the waking state of awareness, your experience of the ego returns…”

Reflections on Worthiness and Self Image

By George A. Boyd © 2018

Q: From an early age, I have always felt unworthy. I have always felt inferior when I compared myself to others. Now that I’ve begun to do spiritual work, I believe this is holding me back. Can you shed some light on this issue?

A: Worthiness is a judgment people make when they are going to give a gift to someone, offer someone a job, or allow their son or daughter to marry someone. It carries with it the connotation that whoever is receiving their bestowal of kindness, money, or permission must have the requisite positive qualities, good character, or responsibility, so their gift will not be misused or squandered.

When you internalize the judgments people make about you as to whether or not you are worthy shapes your beliefs about your worthiness. It colors whether you believe you are worthy of receiving what you want in life, or whether you see yourself as qualified enough, experienced enough, or responsible enough to work in a career or to care for a spouse and family.

This internal judgment you internalize shapes your sense of what you can, be, and have. It has been called narcissistic entitlement.

If parents, relatives, friends, and teachers love you unconditionally and reward you for simply being and participating, you might get a sense that you are entitled to whatever you want—because people have continually given you this message.

If on the other hand, your parents, relatives, friends, and teachers made you work hard for their rewards and praise, you may internalize a belief that your worthiness is conferred based on your performance, your attainment of standards of excellence, and demonstrating noble qualities and good character.

Alternately, if parents, relatives, friends, and teachers continually abused you and bullied you—told you that you were worthless, inferior, you didn’t measure up, you were deficient, or you were flawed or unlovable—you might internalize these harsh judgments and conclude you are unworthy of love, money, happiness, and the other good things in life.

These internal judgments about worthiness appear to lie upon a continuum that ranges from antisocial to grandiose.

  1. Sadistic or antisocial people believe they deserve whatever they desire, and they force others to give them what they want. If they don’t get what they want, they may make the other person suffer for not giving them what they want—showing others abuse, cruelty, and even torture.
  2. Depressed people believe they are undeserving and unworthy of receiving anything they want. People who have been abused may feel this way.
  3. Self-reformers believe they might not currently deserve to achieve what they want, but believe they can prepare themselves to receive the good things of this world by changing themselves through education and training, working on their issues, or improving their habits and character.
  4. Passive aggressive people believe that they deserve to get ahead, but the world is unfair. They perceive Fate gives unworthy people the good things in life, while they are denied. These people harbor resentment, anger, and envy towards those who have what they want, but can’t seem to achieve.
  5. Those who perceive they live in a just and moral universe believe that they deserve what they experience in their lives, and they receive what is just and fair. They are grateful for what they receive.
  6. Those perceive they are in touch with their spiritual core believe they have the ability to manifest or create whatever they desire, and they are worthy of anything they desire. If their magical beliefs do not manifest what they desire, they may blame others or continually look for some flaws in themselves that purportedly block their manifestation.
  7. Those who become grandiose and develop pathological narcissism believe they inherently deserve what they want, because they are a superior or god-like being; that others should recognize their greatness, and obey, serve, and worship them.

If you are dealing with issues of feeling unworthy, it may be helpful if you can begin to adopt the mindset of a self-reformer. Instead of believing you are inherently unworthy and undeserving and that there is no way out—a belief that will paralyze your forward movement with depression, apathy, and hopelessness—you can begin to see that if you can improve yourself, you can prepare yourself to have what you want. This will give you motivation to begin to work on yourself and start improving your lot.

I’m reminded of the story of Jack LaLanne, an exercise aficionado, who was shamed as a teenager, because he was a “97 pound weakling.” This spurred him to become a body builder and world-renowned exercise coach. Those that shamed him came around to admire him and emulate him.

Q: I also believe that my self-image is damaged. Can this be rehabilitated?

A: Self-image is the ego’s inner picture of who and what you are. Like worthiness, there is a continuum of self-image states. These can be broken into personal self-image states and transpersonal or archetypal self-image states.

Personal self-image states are based on your identity with the roles you play in the world.

Transpersonal self-image states appear to arise when your Soul migrates through the Psychic Realm, and you are caught up in the cascade of visions and inspirations that flood the Soul.

Examples of personal self-image states include the following:

  1. Psychotic self-image – At this level of self-image, you feel your world has fallen apart and you are subject to gross distortions of perception (hallucinations), belief (delusions), and mood.
  2. Demonic, criminal, or sadistic self-image – if you have this type of self-image, your sense of entitlement makes you rationalize it is all right to harm or abuse others to get what you want.
  3. Neurotic or anxiety-laden self-image – when this self-image state is present, you may act out self-defeating patterns of behavior that sabotage your happiness and success, or your anxiety and self-doubt may hinder you doing what you want to do. You may be conflicted and confused, and it is difficult for you to make decisions.
  4. Normal or realistic self-image – when your self-image enters this zone, you become adjusted to life and you believe that can get what you need. You are able to secure a job and find a life partner, and you plan for your future. You are realistic and hard working.
  5. Successful self-image – when your self-image migrates into this level, you may be able to get extra education or training that qualifies you for a good-paying job. You accrue some wealth and you can begin to enjoy the good things in life.
  6. Highly successful self-image – those who reach this level of self-image typically are millionaires with abundant wealth, and can get whatever they desire in the world.
  7. Celebrity or leader self-image – those who ascend to the summit of the mountain of personal self-image become the role models for others, and typically have the accoutrements of power and wealth to influence the world around them.

Those that embark on the Path of spiritual development may sometimes have an ego-death experience that makes them identify with a spiritualized self-image. They die from their role in the world, and they come to regard themselves as an archetypal self that has non-ordinary powers and enhanced intuitive knowledge. Some examples of these forms of archetypal self-image that appear when the Soul crosses the Psychic Realm include:

  1. Reality creator self-image – those whose self-image has polarized at this level believe they can influence reality through their intention and thought. They may believe in the operation of the Law of Attraction.
  2. Psychic powers self-image – those whose self-image operates at this level may be engaged in developing their psychic powers, and experimenting with using them.
  3. Metaphysical practitioner self-image – after much study of the intuitive sciences or non-empirical healing systems, they may become a metaphysical counselor or alternative healing practitioner. They may function as healers and professional psychics.
  4. Channeler and spiritualist self-image – Those whose self-image reaches this zone may believe they can commune with the dead, with spirits, angels, and Ascended Masters. They behold entities that are not in the room, as a matter of course, and may receive odd information from these sources.
  5. Star being self-image – Those whose self-image becomes established at this level may believe in alien abductions, the presence of aliens among us, and might report that they regularly commune with an extraterrestrial intelligence.
  6. Library of all-knowledge self-image – Those whose self-image migrates into this realm believe that they can access the stored experience of the Akashic Records and commune with any person who has ever lived.
  7. Glorified self-image – those who move their self-image close to the top of the Psychic Realm may come to think of themselves as a Master or Christ-like being.

Those whose Souls evolve beyond the top of the Psychic Realm typically identify with their spiritual essences—their Soul, a nucleus of identity, or their spiritual heart. This spiritualized self-image that emerges in the Psychic Realm disappears; grounding in this higher “essence of being” replaces it.

Most people who are struggling with a “damaged self-image” are working out issues from the neurotic or anxiety-laden zone of the personal self-image. You can find help for these issues from a competent psychotherapist or counselor, who has learned methods to help you uncover and eliminate these issues. Your task is to retire enough of these issues, so that you can function normally in life, and begin to work on actualizing your dreams.