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The Economy of the Self


We can follow the most complex, richest, and most poetic plans to meet our goals of a thinner, happier, and more productive self, but until we make an appointment with our highest Self, the other stuff is just stuff.   Think about it like this – when we collect too much material stuff our physical space feels crowded and unorganized. Perhaps it even feels a bit suffocating if we start collecting so much stuff we cannot even move in our own physical space.   So, when we get new stuff to put into our homes, it is always a good idea to remove as many old items for the new items we are bringing into the space.

Now, here is some clarity on what I mean by “highest Self”. Carl Jung used self and Self to differentiate the different parts of our psychological and mystical states. Many notorious religious and spiritual writers also use self/Self to differentiate our ego from our essence. So for clarification in this piece, I refer to “highest Self” as our ultimate essence, our soul, the formless energy that never dies. It is the piece of us that connects us to all other living things. If you are a religious or spiritual skeptic, I say to you that this is not hokey pokey talk. The nature of who we are, the formless energy embodied in human form is substantiated in quantum physics. Where I may differ with you dear skeptics is who is responsible for the formless energy. You say no God or question God’s presence and I say God is all things.

So, regardless if you are a skeptic in a spiritual or religious sense, putting God aside, I believe most of us that ascribe to religion, spirituality, or no religion or no spirituality or somewhere in-between will agree that we have a self and a Self. We may ascribe different meanings to those words, but I think we will find some common patterns in our ascriptions. The ego represents the self and our best self represents the Self. That is a pretty basic definition I think most people will agree on.

So let’s break down the Self. Before we do, I must start with a quick note on mindfulness. Mindfulness quiets the chatter in our churning minds. That chatter in our minds can be extremely toxic to not only our mind – mentally, but, emotionally, physically, and for us spiritualists and religionists, spiritually. Why do we have to deal with the chatter in the first place? Well, there are only thousands upon thousands of books and articles and studies out there to tell us why, but I am going to focus on just a couple of those “whys”.

The first is that quieting our chatter is not something that we are just born to do. We have to learn how to do it. Just like we have to learn how to read and write, we must learn how to quite the chatter. It is a skill. With any skill, if we are going to get really good at it, we have to practice and practice a lot. However, this skill is different. Some skills we can pick and choose to focus our mental energy on like playing an instrument or advancing in math or research. At some point as we grow up, we know what we like, what are strengths are, and where to focus on honing our skills in that regard. Mindfulness, however, is a skill that is a life-skill. It is a skill we all require no matter what other skills we decide to develop in our life. It is a foundational skill that will enhance all of our other skills.

The second point I will be focusing on is our relationships. We are social beings. Sure, some of us are more social than others and others of us need more quiet time so that is why most of us are familiar with whether we are an introvert or extrovert. Regardless of which category we fall in, we have both aspects within us; typically we just have one that is stronger than the other. The point is we love relationships. We love relationships with people, animals, environments, and things – the form kind and the formless kind.

We evolved as a human race through our relationships with all these things. We evolved and continue to evolve by mating and reproducing. In our modern life, we are concerned about survival on a different level. In our places of industrialized living, if we are not living below the poverty line, our basic needs are being met, so our concerns for survival stem from worldly matters such as environmental disasters, wars, and diseases of affluence. If we are living below the poverty line, we are still concerned about our basic needs being met.

This second point has to be broken down into a subcategory to go a bit deeper here. We have become a two-tier society in our American life and the gap is growing. You are either on the upper side of the economic tier or the lower end. Depending where we are on this tier, our relationship needs and concerns are quite different with some varying similarities.

If we are in the upper tier of the economy, our relationship concerns are about networking, prestige, growing our families not necessarily by numbers, but growing our families by sustenance that contributes to the making of our Self. And yes, many of us in this tier are still growing our families with toxic sustenance that contributes to the making of the self, burying any form or expression of the Self. The point to take away from this very general distinction is that when we find ourselves in this tier, we realize we have the resources, not just financially, but because we are more educated in this tier as well, our sense of Self becomes more relevant to the conversation of our lives.

If we are on the lower tier of the economy, our relationship concerns are marred by dysfunctional survival. Again, this is a very general distinction. Because most of the people that fall in this tier are struggling to survive – I mean keeping a stable job, house, and food – education is not a big concern, and consequently neither is the uncovering of the Self. Religious institutions certainly play a pivotal role in uplifting this sector of the population, but without contours around the Self, the self will continue to act like a volcano, ready to explode at any crisis that crosses the path. Explosions are damaging.

We deal with the chatter in the mind through mindfulness because it helps us experience silence and stillness. Silence and stillness contour the Self. When we steep our selves in the Self, we expand the consciousness of the world and in that we find a purity of joy and being that fosters a life of purpose.

Relationships are a conduit to sacred experiences. It can be a relationship within our selves of self and Self or between other humans, animals, or between things in our environment. It is also a major artery in which we can know the Self. If we are lacking silence and stillness in our lives, we are erupting in too many explosions and the turmoil from that damage makes it quite difficult to see the beauty in connecting with other beings and other things, and to ultimately know the Self.

We have to lose our self to know our Self. Silence and stillness in relationship are the keys to the Economy of the Self. How we approach them, depending on which tier governs our day-to-day lives, will differ.

Those on the upper end of the economic latter will discover the Self as we clean off the layers of affluence that distract us from the real of the Real. Those on the lower end will discover the Self when the fires of basic survival are dimmed.

Those on the upper end of this tier have a moral obligation to do as much as we can to serve those on the lower end of the tier. But what exactly are we serving? Our services can be many, but at the foundation of our service is to dim the fires.

As we clean layers and dim fires, we will both meet on a terrain where we find stillness and silence, not just alone, but together, in relationship. It is in that sacred space that we expand the consciousness of the world, and continually find and experience a joy infused with purpose.

Om Shanti Om ~ Athea


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