Inspirational Thoughts and Spiritual Quotes on the Ego and Spiritual Awakening

I would like to present you with a couple of spiritual quotes - they're also inspirational quotes, of course, but a couple of them are of the slightly harsh, somewhat provocative variety. This is at least partially because the subject is your awakening consciousness: spiritual awakening.

The implication here is that in a spiritual sense you are likely to be asleep, and so you'll need a bit of shaking (provocation) to wake up.

Now, I realize that what I am going to write here may seem to make not-too-much sense to some people. If that should happen to be you at this point, don't worry about it. Just shake your head and skip this article in favor of one of the many other self improvement articles on this website.

As mentioned, this is going to be one of those personal development articles where I use spiritual quotes, in this case from two guys, Anthony de Mello and Carlos Castaneda. 

Spiritual Quotes by Anthony de Mello

Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) was a British-Indian born American priest who, from all outward appearances, reached some kind of spiritual enlightenment at some point during his later years. In any case he had a deep understanding of the human condition and his teachings and writings (which often used anecdotes, jokes, stories and parables) have influenced many.

Much of de Mello's writing is deceptively simple, some seems to miss the point or are perhaps merely meant to entertain, and some, particularly the transcripts of his last workshops, are spot-on ... that is, they resonate with truth, at least for me. 

Read more about Anthony de Mello here, and find more quotes I have chosen here.

Spiritual Quotes by Carlos Castaneda

As for Carlos Castaneda - full name Carlos C├ęsar Salvador Arana Castaneda (1925-1998) - he was a Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author who became a shaman's apprentice. His teacher was a Yaqui Indian from northern Mexico, who in Castaneda's books is called don Juan Matus.

I have read most Carlos Castaneda's books about his experiences with his teacher, and while I experienced his books as definitely having some truth in them, my clear cut feeling was also that they were somewhat 'off' in several different ways. I'm not going to go into that right now.

But I am going to use some inspirational, spiritual quotes from Carlos Castaneda's books, because like I said, while they do seem somewhat not-exactly-right somehow, they also carry some truth. 

Carlos Castaneda on Our Ego Psychology

Let's start with Castaneda and his teacher, don Juan Matus. Many times in the course of the books don Juan chides the author and narrator for being full of himself - taking himself terribly seriously. In my experience most people do that, much to their own detriment. Here are a couple of quotes from the books:

Things don't change, only the way you look at them.
~ Carlos Castaneda ~

Well ... while that may not seem like much, as it turns out it is more than enough. Your power to look at things in different ways is pretty much ... everything, when it comes to your life and your life experience.

As long as a man feels that he is the most important thing in the world, he cannot really appreciate the world around him. He is like a horse with blinders; all he sees is himself, apart from everything else.
~ Carlos Castaneda ~ (from his book 'Journey to Ixtlan')

What don Juan Matus is talking about here is what I call the ego and thebeliefs we hold which keep us in the sad, scary, and lonely experience of identifying with our ego.

Your ego is a part of you, of course, but your ego is not you. Your ego is more like a software program (an artificial intelligence), that is focused on survival and thus, fear. Hence, you are more than your ego. You are also more than your mind, more than your body ... and more than all of those put together. Much more. You are more than your soul, too. You are consciousness, you are life. You are vaaaast!

But as long as 'all you see is yourself, apart from everything else' (i.e. separated from others and from life itself) you are going to feel sad and lonely and scared. As indeed most people do. Why?

Well, there are at least two very good answers to that.

The first and most obvious answer is that you have identified with your ego which is just a mechanism, a survival mechanism - a kind of machine really, or, more precisely, a program.

If you are identified with a simple - and totally predictable, by the way - piece of software, no wonder you don't feel good.

Add to that the fact that this software (the ego) is fear based because it is a survival mechanism, and you have got yourself a cocktail that's going to make you feel lousy if you 'ingest' it. 


Read more about Carlos Castaneda and his work here.

Anthony de Mello on the Human Ego & the Power of Belief

Next, let's switch to Anthony de Mello. Here's what he has to say about people who are identified with their ego (warning: while this is a spiritual quote, is also may seem pretty provocative):

People go through life with fixed ideas; they never change. They're just not aware of what's going on. They might as well be a block of wood, or a rock, a talking, walking, thinking machine. That's not human. They are puppets, jerked around by all kinds of things. Press a button and you get a reaction.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

Yes, press a button ... and, you might add, you get the SAME reaction every time.

Say something that an insecure but physically big and strong man can interpret as insulting and he wants to fight you. Do it again tomorrow or the day after and you get the same reaction. You get the same reaction every time.

Or take an insecure woman who is prone to jealousy. See what happens when her partner looks at another woman today. The jealous, insecure woman produces an intense, emotional reaction. If her partner looks at another woman tomorrow or the day after, the reaction is the same. Like pushing a button.

Or, take you ... I bet if your boss or your parent or someone else in authority tells you that you are the best or that something you have done is great, you feel good. If they tell you that you or something you have done sucks, you feel bad.

It affects you. Every time. Like pushing a button.

Every time someone whom you perceive to be 'important' (it could also be your partner, a sibling or a friend) says something that you think has to do with you, you react. If it is positive, you feel good and think positive thoughts about yourself; if it is negative you feel bad and think negative thoughts about yourself. Every time.

Someone is just stating their personal opinion, and you react - and in a predictable manner, too. You're not reacting because what they are saying is true or not true, you are reacting because this is what you have been programmed to do. Like a machine. 


Anthony de Mello on Awakening Consciousness and Spiritual Awakening

Let us allow Anthony de Mello to provoke us again - and give us a bit of hope this time:

Most people don't live aware lives. They live mechanical lives, mechanical thoughts - generally somebody else's - mechanical emotions, mechanical actions, mechanical reactions.

As you identify less and less with the "me," you will be more at ease with everybody and with everything. Do you know why?

Because you are no longer afraid of being hurt or not liked. You no longer desire to impress anyone. Can you imagine the relief when you don't have to impress anybody anymore? Oh, what a relief. Happiness at last!

You no longer feel the need or the compulsion to explain things anymore. It's all right. What is there to be explained?

And you don't feel the need or compulsion to apologize anymore. I'd much rather hear you say, "I've come awake," than hear you say, "I'm sorry." I'd much rather hear you say to me, "I've come awake since we last met; what I did to you won't happen again," than to hear you say, "I'm so sorry for what I did to you.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

Now, I said that there are two reasons to why you feel sad and lonely and scared when you're identified with your ego and think you are separated from others and from life itself. The second reason is even more simple than the first, but not quite as obvious, and perhaps more difficult to understand, too, but let's give it a shot.

Here's the truth: You are not separate from anyone or anything else. You just FEEL that way. The truth is you are like one cell (or if you prefer: one organ) in the body that is humanity, the body that is Earth, the body that is life itself.

Think of your bladder, or if you prefer, your spinal cord. Your bladder or your spinal cord is just one organ in the physical body that is yours. Do you think of your bladder or your spinal cord as disconnected from the rest of your body? I hope not. They are integral parts of the whole. THIS is how it really is to be you. You are like one cell, one organ in the vast organism that is life itself. Yep, you function on your own, but so does your bladder, and your spinal cord, too.

Obviously you are your own person, but just as obviously you are also part of something much bigger.

Life is inside you (or you would be dead) and you are inside that big thing we call life, too. There is no separation. There never has been, and there never can be.

The problem is, you have forgotten this simple truth. You have inherited (been programmed with) the old and erroneous belief that you are somehow separate from life. How does holding this belief feel? It feels:

Sad. Scary. Lonely.

So, what is going on is that because of some faulty cultural programming you have forgotten a vital part of yourself!

You have forgotten what you are a part of. The bigger you. The whole you.

Having forgotten this, no wonder you fell not-whole. No wonder you feel disconnected, separated, alone, frightened and depressed. 


The Good News about Your Awakening Consciousness

The good news is, you have merely forgotten the connection you have to other people, nature and all of life. The connection is not gone, just forgotten. You are still a part of all life, and all life is still a part of you.

When you remember this, as indeed I have remembered this, you no longer feel alone. You no longer feel separated. You no longer feel depressed.

I, myself, used to get depressed every time winter, darkness and Christmas came around. Every single time. I used to hate the wintertime ... and Christmas, too. No longer.

If you REALLY remember the truth about who and what you are, with life being in you and you being in life, then you don't even feel scared anymore. What is there to be scared of?

Death? You are life, you cannot die. Yes, so your physical body may expire, which is too bad, but hardly a problem since the real you is MUCH bigger than your body - and eternal.

I used to be terrified of death, I mean really, really scared. I would wake up at night, drenched in sweat and shaking so hard my teeth clattered - from fear of death.

Now? I feel no fear of death. What's the difference?

Simply that I have remembered who and what I am. That's all.

I know that I am my thoughts, my emotions, my ego, my physical body, my will, my soul and SO much more. I know that I am life itself. I know that I am consciousness. This is not something I believe, this is something I REMEMBER and EXPERIENCE.

Every living thing has been granted the power, if it so desires, to seek an opening to freedom and go through it.
~ Carlos Castaneda ~ (from his book 'The Eagle's Gift')

You, too can remember. You, too, can let go of fear and depression and loneliness and guilt and shame and negative thoughts and compulsive actions and any other thing that is bothering you about being human. Letting go and remembering is freedom. The ultimate freedom - the kind that cannot be lost (only forgotten).

For instance, you can use a self improvement technique like Stanislav Grof's 'Holothropic Breathwork', or Brandon Bay's 'The Journey', or some other form of inner journey (meditation and Chris Griscom's 'multi-incarnational sessions' and Bruce Moen's methods for exploring consciousness spring to mind, but there are lots), or you can use my own personal development technique, the Let Go Method about which I have also written an ebook (called Finding Inner Peace by Letting Go). 


You Don't Even Need Spiritual Awakening - Just Be Here Now!

In fact, you don't even have to remember at all. You don't even need to explore or use some technique for letting go or some such; you just have to be present. Be here now. Still the mind (shut your inner voice up!), even if it is just for a few seconds, and be here now.

We talk to ourselves incessantly about our world. In fact we maintain our world with our internal talk. And whenever we finish talking to ourselves about ourselves and our world, the world is always as it should be.
~ Carlos Castaneda ~ (from his book 'A Separate Reality')

Being present is, perhaps, not that easy, but it IS very, very simple. There is nothing to it. Literally. It is not something you DO, it is more like something you STOP doing.

Be here now just means that you move your consciousness to the present. Right here, right now, no thoughts, no fears and worries, nothing other that what is there with you, right now.

You can do that right now, if you like. Not for long, just for a second or so. Later, when you get more familiar with it, you can raise the bar and expand the amount of time you do it. 


How to Be Here Now

If you have a plant or a flower near you it becomes particularly easy, but you can use anything, anything at all that is present with you here and now. Tell yourself that you will only do this experiment for one full second, no longer than that.

Go to the plant or flower, or simply focus on some object near you (your computer, maybe, or the chair you are sitting in). Next pick some part of the plant or object which you don't usually look at and touch. The unfamiliarity makes it easier. (You can do this with an animal or person, but that is likely to make it more difficult, so save that for later).

Next, say to yourself, "Now, using this [plant or object] I am going to be totally present for one full second."

Then you concentrate 100 percent on reaching out really slowly (follow your hand with your eyes) and touching the plant or object in some way or place you're not used to ... while noticing everything about your movement and, most particularly, the sensation you feel as you touch whatever it is you touch.

In that moment, for just that one second, you are completely present. That's it. End of exercise. 


The Be Here Now Exercise Can Lead to Spiritual Awakening

The plant / chair was there all the time, even before you touched it, but you - you weren't. You were thinking and feeling all sorts of things, and you are probably doing the same thing right now. But for that one precious second you became present so you could meet the object where it is. And the object is here, now. The object is present. You weren't, and you probably aren't anymore, but for that one second you were present with the object.

Now, expand the notion of the book or the plant to everything around you, and expand that one second you were present to longer and longer periods of time (typically using total acceptance of what-is), and you have yourself a spiritual practice that is good for your awakening consciousness and may in fact lead to spiritual awakening.

I would recommend looking into teachers like Australian Leonard Jacobson or American Gangaji or British Arjuna Ardagh, or German-Canadian Eckhart Tolle. Or, if you prefer, looking into the subject of mindfulness and trying out some mindfulness training. 


Final Words (and Spiritual Quotes)

What you are aware of you are in control of; what you are not aware of is in control of you.
~ Anthony de Mello ~

Finally, just a friendly reminder:

You ARE already awakening consciousness, so there's no need to search for it; and no need to search for spiritual awakening, either, because it's already yours by definition.

All you have to do is STOP diverting your attention away from the fact and let life take care of the rest.

Life is a mystery, which means your thinking mind cannot make sense out of it. For that you've got to wake up and then you'll suddenly realize that reality is not problematic ...
~ Anthony de Mello ~

And please ALSO remember: You don't have to do this all at once; you can take any kind of steps you like, including baby steps. Baby steps are fine!


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