Some of us have worked hard to change our world; some of us have worked hard to change ourselves. And yet, for many of us, no matter how hard we have worked and no matter how much we've progressed, something is still eluding us.
It's not an illusion. Something is still eluding us. It is the experience of oneness, the experience of thriving in a thriving world, the experience of going beyond our own narrow self-concerns and living from a place of inspiration and connection, from the place of safety that can come only from knowing that others, too, are seeking the highest good of all, including us.
As humans, we long for this experience, but the only way we will get it is if we change and so does our world. We can do it. We can change ourselves. But how? By going beyond the domination of the ego: the instinct that causes us to protect ourselves, promote ourselves and pit ourselves against others; the instinct that causes us to feel shame, isolation, competition and alienation; the instinct that causes those around us to do the same, which only gives us even more reason to protect "ourselves" against "them."
Can we overcome the domination of the ego? Yes, we can. But first, let me address the issue of disappointment. Whether through direct political action or through charitable work or volunteering, we may have given our all and still experienced disillusionment -- not only about the results of all that work, but about the timidity or narrow self-interests that blocked the bold changes required. On a personal level, too, we may have experienced disappointment. We may have committed to sobriety from one addiction, yet find ourselves consumed by another. We may have reaped the rewards of exercise or meditation, yet continue to be anxious or irritable in daily life. We may have understood certain of our dynamics, yet still feel baffled about our underlying sense of dissatisfaction about ourselves, our relationships and our lives. We may have taken many chances on love, yet are left feeling resentful or resigned.
All right. So we have been disappointed. We've been disappointed by ourselves, by others, by movements, even by spirituality. The question is: What have we done with these disappointments? Have they discouraged us? Have we kept using the same tactics despite encountering the same results? Or have we utilized the gains that we have already achieved and been motivated to dig deeper, to look for the underlying cause of our alienation from ourselves, alienation from others, alienation from faith?
Those of us dedicated to digging into the underlying cause of our political, social and personal pain have frequently come to the same conclusion: It's the domination of the ego, the me-based perspective that keeps us in shame, fear and alienation. Now what can we do about that?
A lot. We can retrain ourselves and our egos, and we can open ourselves up to a better way of being, a way that allows us to see our interests as connected, rather than opposing; a way that opens us to the flood of divine energies that help us feel better, more whole, more connected and more relaxed, the divine energies that can also inspire us to solutions that we could not see before.
In order for us to retrain our egos, to leave the "I" universe for the "we" universe, we need three elements: awareness, intention and support. Awareness: catching on to the ego's games and acknowledging the needless pain it has caused us and others. Intention: dedicating ourselves to self-awareness and giving up all the excuses for engaging in behaviors that destroy our bodies, minds and spirits. Support: human help -- a mutually supportive environment that helps us see ourselves and heal ourselves, so that we can truly transform; divine help -- a steady stream of divine energies that increase our sense of well-being and open us to higher consciousness.
Overcoming the domination of the ego is not easy. It takes work and dedication. It takes engagement at the level of a boot camp, a boot camp for higher consciousness. Why boot camp? Because boot camps are intensive training experiences that allow us to respond almost instinctively to the challenges that confront us. And the response they encourage is that we automatically function as part of a mutually supportive team, freed from the attachment to our individuality, so that we may achieve our goal and find ourselves in the oneness. For centuries, humans have used boot camps to prepare us for war. Why not now use boot camp to prepare us for transformation?
We need a boot camp for consciousness, a boot camp that helps us instinctively respond to life's challenges in a way that is self-aware, mutually supportive and inspired. And for such a boot camp, we need programs that challenge and enable us: to see ourselves clearly; to disassociate from the identification between us and the ego; to understand the ego and help it evolve; and to heal from the traumas and life patterning that have kept us enslaved by the unconscious drives that cause us to hurt ourselves and one another.
Let us dedicate our lives to transforming our bodies, minds and spirits, so that, together, we may feel more whole, more happy and more able to solve our common problems. And let us turn our discouragement into inspiration.