04/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Facing Ego: Finding The Authentic Self

Albert Clayton Gaulden put himself through the wringer in this lifetime. He lived not only to tell the tale, but to write about it in his You're Not Who You Think You Are: A Breakthrough Guide to Discovering the Authentic You. I'm very grateful I read his book.

A student of Vedanta, Gaulden is the founder of the well-known Sedona Intensive, an alternative therapy program that people from all walks of life swear by. I've not taken the training, but if his book is any indication, it's tough, and it works.

The authentic self is a bugaboo for a lot of folks in the spiritual life. Gaulden grabs it by the horns and wrestles it into clarity. He proposes eight stages of development for those of us who seek to be authentic in this crazy world.

I so appreciated his take on the ego that I wrote "Bravo!" in the margin. Ego, he says, is to be integrated into the person through love. Hallelujah! A spiritual teacher who does not vilify that sorely rejected aspect of self, the ego. Ego, dear one, means simply "I am," and without one, life here would be unbearable.

Ego is to be loved, and guided, and poked and prodded and investigated to bring light to its shadow. That's all. It's not some monster that lives inside one--unless we make it a monster. Then, it can kill us with one glance, like a basilisk.

Ego must be led by the Divine in each of us. "Embrace your ego," Gaulden writes, and begin a conscious relationship with him/her (and we all have both inside us!). "Stop blaming your ego, and sit down and talk." Develop a dialogue so that High Self can guide ego.

This is actually how the human structure was originally designed, according to Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity. Ego was meant to be a follower, not a leader.

"The ego can either be fed or faced." We get to choose, and once we choose to face the ego, a whole, new, inner world opens to us. "The unredeemed ego is what keeps us connected to the never-ending karmic cycles." Playing out the same scenes over and over again simply with different characters, until we, ourselves, get the learning. Or, as Gaulden would have it, "remembering."

His stage two suggests that we have to decide if there's a god or not. Once we do, and he highly recommends the choice that there is a god, then we get to interact with It. Stage three is coming out of the darkness into the light. Stage Four takes us into the world of Karmic Mirrors. We have to accept our karma in order to change it. "Change starts with forgiving yourself and the making of amends with those you have hurt."

His further stages take us deeper and deeper into knowledge of self and the action of service. He asks the question: Am I my brother's keeper? And he answers it, "Yes." Through love and service, we live into our authentic selves, which is what we're all doing here anyway.

Finally, he takes us where we all need to end up. All you need is love. He writes, "I experience so many different kinds of love: courtly love, erotic love, familial love, free love, platonic love, puppy love, religious love, romantic love, unrequited love. Then there is the love of God."

Earlier, Gaulden writes, "Every soul has a resonance with God. The divine frequency is reactivated initially by remembering what harmony and peace feel like." And that's the key. No matter how much travail, no matter how much pain, no matter how much recovery, it's all worth it because harmony and peace are the result.

Read Albert Clayton Gaulden's book, but be forewarned. If you take it to heart, you will change and your world will change with you.

For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso's website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook.