One idea that was a clear breakthrough for me and many others on a similar path to self-discovery was the idea of the independent and autonomous existence of the Ego Self. Synthesised and crystallised perhaps most eloquently by Ekhart Tolle in his ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’, the idea that the ego, both individual and collective, is not just an innate aspect of the human psyche but a ‘life-force’ of its own resonated a deeper truth and awakening in many.
The idea is anything but new of course. Tolle’s work like that of many others even before him were only resounding and synthesising the same truth using different metaphors and analogies. Yet I believe that the metaphor and the analogy can make an enormous difference to our collective understanding of anything and hence why the storyteller had always such a prominent and respected role in any community because he or she could tap into the hidden memories of the collective and weave the past with the present and future.
Understanding our Ego consciousness using the right metaphors can also help us come to terms with an otherwise unresolved mystery puzzle. But here is a hint to what’s to follow….it was designed to be a mystery puzzle.
When I came across an article by Paul Levy on the idea of Mind Parasites, I couldn’t believe how much the idea resonated with so many realisations, research and experiences I had build about the subject of the Ego along the years. Paul has delved quite deeply into understanding what the Native American called the Wetiko and what he describes as the self-destructive virus of the mind. The Wetiko brings about the darkest and most destructive aspects of humans but has at the same time the potential to help us awaken to our true nature as free and creative beings. I believe that what Paul refers to as Wetiko or the mind parasites (with reference to Colin Wilson’s supernatural metaphysical cult thriller with the same name) is what others refer to as the Ego, or at least the most essential aspects of it. But the analogy to mind parasites is extremely important and telling and here I want to go through why this is so:
The Occult Program:
One of the most fascinating aspects about understanding the ego as a virus of the mind is that it was designed to be hidden or occult. The ‘program’ of our ego consciousness will try to trip us every time we come close to uncover its plot. The Ego, or Wetiko, is a self-perpetuating program and its survival very much depends on not being exposed to the light of our consciousness. It has to remain covert in its operations. The analogy to the mind virus here is quite apt because in reality the Ego rather than being just a shadow or an aspect of our psyche is a designed program to run within another program in the background without being discovered – like a trojan horse or a virus using computer related terminology.
It also has regulating and defence mechanisms that enable it to remain hidden. Distraction is one of the main ones. As soon as you start suspecting and then uncovering its mechanisms, it will spin you off another direction through distraction. In other words it will start playing with your perceived needs, priorities and urgencies thus making you believe that there is something more important and urgent to put attention to. Or it will create some kind of a drama with some painful memory or puts to your attention something that will stir up some emotion. It’s like creating a smoke screen or an illusion. The ego or Wetiko is a true master in this because it is in the design of the program. It is self-regulating, adaptive and designed to keep itself hidden because if we uncover it long enough and work on it, it will just change or die – what is in other places referred to as deep reprogramming of the self and in extreme levels, the death of the ego (although whether it is a final death is highly debatable)
The Pool of Forgetfulness:
Another of its most powerful mechanisms to keep itself from being uncovered is somehow making us forget. Forgetfulness is the overarching fundamental problem in us humans if you think hard about it. We tend to forget on both an individual and collective level. We forgot our true nature, our freedom, power, connection to nature and to the cosmos at large. We forget our lessons, our past mistakes, our histories, our triumphs and defeats. On a personal level we forget to pursue our dreams, we immediately forget the potency of an epiphany or a deep realisation. This is purely the program of the Wetiko. It is programmed to hack the system and throw you in a ‘pool of forgetfulness’ every time you are on to something precious, life-affirming, self-realisation or actualisation. This happens on an individual level but is then reflected onto the collective.
Its nature is to preserve itself by holding you back from becoming who you really are – free, creative, powerful and divine.
The Ghost in the Network
The most interesting part of talking about the Ego or Wetiko as a mind parasite or virus is its autonomy and self-organising nature as hinted in the opening lines. Now the way to really understand this is to think of your individual ego as not being any way personal to you. What do I mean? Try to see you, your friends, colleagues, family, etc as a social group, a cluster or a group within a larger group which is society or the whole human population at extreme. These are networks or social systems wherein the individuals are parts of the whole system. We communicate, share, interact and most of all reflect each other.
Niklas Luhmann had made a very interesting point when he observed that communication predates the particular individuals who are doing the communication. Sounds weird right? Well think again. The ideas, language, cultural habits, etc used to make the communication were already ‘alive’ and active before the particular communicators, let’s call them Mr.A and Mrs.B. Mr. A and Mrs.B both created the communication (through using language, ideas, consensual reference to reality,etc) and at the same time the language, norms, cultural habits, etc are ‘using’ Mr.A and Mrs.B as a medium to perpetuate and reinforce themselves within the network. In other words, the whole system is alive and is kept alive by ‘moving’ through the interactions and communications of its parts – humans!
The Ego works exactly in the same way. It is not particular to anyone – it is an independent and autonomous life force that ‘uses’ people in a social network as its host. It can flow, move and reorganise itself through that network. As mentioned by Paul Levy in his article, if you are about to reveal or uncover some life-changing realisation or truth about yourself, it will use others literally as automatons to get to you and distract you, hurt you, discourage you or disenfranchise from tapping into the life-affirming creativity that is within you.
I have always observed in fact how bigotry, hatred, racism, intolerance, etc works through people as a medium when they are unconscious. Sometime people do something insane collectively, like genocides, atrocities, voting for the wrong thing, attempt to block a creative idea that will change and open the minds of others. If in a sober moment you ask them why they did it, they will be confused or as it happens, create a ‘rational’ explanation that justifies their irrational fear or insanity. Of course this is not being true to themselves but they are not completely at fault for doing the act but of being unconscious and left to be used by the Wetiko.
The Endless Sleep
Regarding the point above of using people who are unconscious as automatons, another important part of its mission for survival is in fact to keep people unconscious. Spiritual awakening is its ultimate enemy because entails among other things to see things as they are in all their transparency and glory, including the Wetiko but most of all realising the true nature and potential of its host. Once the virus feels threatened by its host becoming conscious, it will use other hosts to infect the person again and again in an attempt to keep everything in status quo.
Fighting Back a Tougher Fight
Yet again this was another perspective from Paul Levy’s deep understanding of the Wetiko that fully converges with my observations. This is important to note and be aware of. Every time we are on to something big – that is come close to a major turning point or self-realisation, the Wetiko or Ego will start fighting harder. It puts up its fire power by a few notches. Collectively it is even more so. As we are evolving and shifting in consciousness as a species, the Wetiko is going to give one last big fight to the end just like a cornered beast. It knows that its days are counted but it will not concede defeat. It has to fight and it will.
So for those of you who are somehow upset, let down or losing hope with still seeing so much resistance to a changing world, be aware that when things get harder it only means that we are getting closer and closer to actually break through.