External Power, Fear and the Ego
External achievement is a part of our longstanding evolutionary inheritance. The “survival of the fittest” has been the backbone of evolutionary science, and its core concept is rooted in competition, which is fueled by fear. Gary Zukav, in The Seat of the Soul, explains the pitfalls of external achievement as a consequence of the “five sensory” personality. For him, the five sensory personality uses the five senses, of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch and hearing to experience the world. It is limited to, impressed with or repulsed by what it experiences through its senses. It is opposite of those who have a multisensory personality who recognizes what happens through the senses, but is guided by the force within known as the “inner-self”, or the soul.
Through the insatiable desire to become more, we remain trapped in a five-sensory existence, where we define ourselves and others by what we see, touch, smell, taste and hear. In this way, we focus on the external selves. We work to perfect ourselves so that we can either achieve more power, so that we can feel a greater sense of control of our environment and our lives. This power is not ours. It comes from external sources. It can be bought, sold or stolen. A Course in Miracles says, “Nothing real can be threatened.” We crave power, because we want security. The need for tangible security is fueled by the ego.
The ego, is a psychological term that is defined as the center of the field of consciousness, the part of the psyche where our conscious awareness resides. For many, it provides them their sense of identity and existence. The ego can be seen as a kind of command center or headquarters for our psyche. According to analytical psychologists, it organizes our thoughts, feelings, senses, and intuition. It regulates access to our memory. For many, it is the part that links their inner and outer worlds together, forming how they relate to that which is external to them. It is the conscious way we experience the world. It is the part of our psyche with which we most readily align our personality. It leads us into desire, which is a powerful tool we use to manifest what we want.
The ego, in our childhood though young adulthood, helps us develop into individuals. It makes many of our decisions for us. Most of us were not contemplative teenagers or young adults. Instead, many of us sought definition by attempting to attain the physical things we saw other people have. We applied for the job, married the spouse and bought the house according to what we thought these physical things would add to our lives. We invested in superficial things like clothes, shoes, cars and even people to demonstrate a certain level of success so that we could be socially acceptable.
We were looking outside of ourselves to establish ourselves. We were creating our purpose and living within our own power. We sacrificed a lot to get what we have, and once we attained it, we saw it lacked its original luster. We gained suffering. Buddhism, an eastern philosophy, (not a religion) suggests that the desire is the root of suffering. One of its primary messages is, “The root of suffering is attachment”. When we cease to desire what is outside of us and focus on what is within us, we will find greater fulfillment and peace.
The bible warns,
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Jesus said it like this,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”
Andy Cohen, A Course in Miracles teacher writes, “The ego is a severely limited idea about who and what you are. It defines you as a body only, confined within the boundaries of your flesh, subject to all the laws and experiences which affect bodies” (Cohen 84). According to A Course in Miracles, the ego is a part of the human mind, and it is not controlled by the human spirit.
The desires of the ego produce emptiness, because fulfillment starts from within. We are carrying the spirit of God within us, and we have to find fulfillment internally without being led so easily by the ego. He will lead into dry places.