We are limiting the intellectual abstraction of mind as being nothing more than an autonomous sense of self. That line of thinking would posit the brain generates mind. In actuality the brain generates or perhaps I should say it enables ego mind, which is a byproduct of conscious awareness or to look at it another way the flip side of mind, using a coin as a symbol of pervasive duality. The intellect and the ego are two sides of this mind coin. They are brothers, the Horus and Set of ancient Egypt. The triumph of one over the other is cyclical - you can't have a Christ without the anti-Christ. Taking another intellectual step further into the abyss of duality, the all encompassing mind at large is splintered off and reduced into a vehicular body via compartmentalizing itself into a brain, ergo the brain is in this respect a limited mechanical model of the mind at large. Through specialized sense perception the mind operates very narrow in scope in what we call the material world, a world of low vibrational forms. At this point the mind we are familiar with in this constrained mode of awareness is faced with the prospect that it is indeed a separate entity because its true origins are concealed by the handicap of not knowing how crippled it really is perceptually. We all then suffer from this misplaced sense of self. What we don't realize is we all are of the same mind by reasoning this origin is common to all. By biologically propagating itself the mind at large diversifies and learns about its infinitely varied nature, though its offspring are tragically ignorant of their provenience.
With this knowledge it's interesting to speculate on the ubiquitous eyes that many experience in the psychedelic trance being the eyes of mind at large examining itself from many perspectives. It is essentially what consciousness is all about - the one becoming the many in order to gain further understanding of itself. The one is aware but not from the perspective of inside its own creation, therefore wishing to be cognizant of itself from within, the mind at large's solution was the genius of what we call consciousness that presents itself in many varied forms. As an example humans see the world with stereoscopic vision and our brains crunch this data along with other external sensory input perceived with our other senses to give us a view of the world. Well imagine this on an unimaginable scale! Total consciousness for the mind at large is the sense and knowing of the all, ongoing feedback from billions and billions of forms.
Before going further, it would be a mistake to declare this mind at large all there is, instead it is one half of the equation of oneness. What we call the godhead, totality, source, the all, and so on is the ecstatic sexual embrace of the feminine and masculine energetic polarities that when separated allow creation to flourish. Life that is flourishing begins at the cosmic orgasm, the metaphorical 'big bang' of physicists being an apt way of describing how the universe, in essence creation, came into existence. This model answers the question that as children comes naturally to all upon hearing of the big bang: "But what came before the big bang?" Well junior, the feminine and masculine energies, the eternal Grandmother and Grandfather, were locked in a passionate embrace and until they separated, all remained as one.
If we can trace everything back to the 'one' then at some point we have to come to terms with what are perceived as negative influences or entities are aspects of the all as well. It is a progression in thought that eventually strikes you hard on the head. I have spent the last year trying to come to grips with ego. What is its origin? Who controls the ego? Why does it wish to exert total control over us? I returned to Peru to go through another cycle of plant medicine use to further come to an understanding of ego and to try and corral this ego by altering my consciousness and facing this slippery concept through intention. I feel I was somewhat successful in this endeavour and at one point I tried to puke it out but it came back. I realized after one particular ceremony upon deep reflection that my dependence on the ego had affected negatively all the relationships in my life that I hold near and dear. I learned that in order to have peace of mind you need to silence the mind thereby disabling the machinations of ego. I was shown how much choice is at play in how our lives are shaped and how we allow the ego to control how we act and react to daily situations. When I became a jaguar full of strength and power it was instrumental in showing me how mastery over our environment and self can negate the need for ego. I was also able to play the observer and see how we choose the identities we wish to cultivate and present to the outside world. This was in the form of a dressing room where different identities were available to choose from as a mask to lay over the blank slate which I had become at the time. The theme was once again choice. Ultimately it is all choice. The ego will always remain and we have free will and choice on how we allow it to influence us.
Upon commencing this journey eight years ago where I was seeking my origins and answers to questions about my part in all of this, my ego has been along for the ride and being crafty has tried to stay one step ahead. To be honest though I have been searching for answers and was never actively searching for enlightenment. I happened upon enlightenment as a form of remembering - we all are enlightened, we have just forgotten that, so I have never fallen prey to the ego trap laid out for the seeker of enlightenment but I have definitely been aware of the ego's desire to lay claim to the higher spiritual knowledge that I have attained and a push towards taking a bit of a trip based on those spiritual revelations. For the most part I have successfully shut up about it and gone on with my usual inner superior knowing which has kept the ego somewhat satisfied (if that sounds egotistical it is supposed to be - I'm not immune to ego). I eventually came to the realization that the ego is ultimately a tool of the one who uses the ego to force us to come to terms with it in order to become self aware. In this way it can be thought of as an adversary, yes even Satan himself. It's duality at work and I want to say the divine mind as personified by the Logos/Jesus has a brother and that brother is the Ego/Devil. Both allow for us individual sparks of the divine to become self aware and that is the nature of our existence. Perhaps a meaning of life is for mind at large as consciousness to become self aware and to ultimately be presented with choice. It seeks knowledge of self and this is the construct by which source has created to come to terms with all aspects of self. Humans embody the combination of the intellect and wisdom and from our interactions in our world the all comes to a realization that given the level of intellect the human creature has been given what is the probability for different actions and outcomes to occur? How separated from ultimate knowledge of origin can source divide into and still maintain a probability that the creation will operate under the auspices and guidance of love? I submit humans stand on that edge.
For example as I write this the US 2016 Presidential elections are in full swing. The Hillary and Trump news cycle are a major example of this daily circus that presents itself to our consciousness and these distractions take you away from understanding the nature of reality and our place in it that is seemingly achieved through self reflection with the conundrum being that everything is ultimately one but we can only grasp that reality through this illusion of being separate that we all feel. Having the ability to self reflect and feel separate allows us to peer into the all from inside its creation with the byproduct of this ability resulting in ego. This collective ego then helps create the circus and round and round it goes.
Let me see if I can articulate this in a reasonable amount of words. In order to fully understand the universe and all there is you have to stand apart of it. But the whole seeking thing will reveal to you that we are all one so it is impossible to really achieve an understanding of self because you cannot separate yourself into the independent observer. However humans have this curious ability for self reflection where they do feel separate thanks to ego. Whether ego was given to us so we could find transcendence through being able to look upon creation in a delusory but ultimately instructive manner is quite a question to ponder! This brings up the question about whether Eastern methods of quieting the mind and transcending ego to find wholeness and inner peace is bypassing maybe the whole reason we are here in the first place and that is as a way for source to become consciously self aware of itself. That being said I would assert that before you can effectively use the ego as a tool for self reflection you need to have the discipline to be able to effectively quiet the mind in order to reset the mind when the ego once again attempts to dominate your thought processes. The ego will perpetually play the adversary however it should never be allowed to be ruler.
At some point a wrench might be thrown into the process of breaking down self and discovering the ego and how tricky and slippery it can be. I have engaged in the discovery, acknowledgement, and suppression of aspects of myself and this suppression allowed for a deeper understanding of self without this strong sense of distraction. I knew I had put it in a box hidden away for the time being and I came to an understanding of ego and an awareness of what it does to us and the reason I could do this was that I eliminated a major source of distraction. But I have temporarily let this dark side thing back out of the box and it is presenting me with many questions. It is another distinct construct of my making, an 'alter ego' perhaps? So I should have pluralized who I think I really am all along. How many of these aspects of self do I have? This one is strong and well developed but I must have many more. What's my true self? Is it only the part of me I like? Is it just another in a list of who I can be but a performer that I like to pretend is really me? It seems clear I have multiple alter egos; I'm okay with that but I have to re-evaluate things now. What do I do with this strong dark side that I can suppress but remains? Do I acknowledge it and occasionally feed it? It feels like a dangerous animal that is the flip side of the side of the me I like. It fits in with my whole concept and understanding of duality and everything having an opposite. I have as aspects of self - seeker me, shadow me, solitary me, sarcastic and cynical me, selfish me, loving and caring me. It's like a hodgepodge of transient behaviours and constructs that combine to form self. Is the answer then that self doesn't exist? That always seemed to be the existential truth behind all this seeking. We all come from the same source and are fundamentally all brothers and sisters in arms. We are all the one expressing itself in this waking dream state, this illusory hallucination that we all participate in. So my quest to pin down my self is ultimately futile. It doesn't exist. It is just layer after layer of constructs, some which I really like so I designate that as myself and consign the parts I don't like to a deviant construct of ego that needs to be corralled and in extreme cases vanquished. Weird. So fucking strange. And the best part is that mind at large is asking itself the same questions but on a grand scale! It has become the many in order to experience self; I am constantly testing the waters of existence by presenting different versions of myself in order to receive back data on how what I perceive as the external world will react. I liken it to peering into the foundation of our material world and peeling back layer after layer and never getting to the base material understanding of what constitutes creation. You are a cosmic onion. To try to understand yourself by peeling away layers of self, personality, and ego delusion only reveals more of the same. There are many iterations of myself, so many I can't reasonably ascertain which one is really me. The logical conclusion is there is no self; I just tell myself I'm a self in order to prevent an existential crisis. However if I view the concept of self from a different viewpoint in that I am the product of the separation of the totality of feminine and masculine energy then I have some hope of finding an origin of wholeness.
The ability of the one to separate into many forms suggests that the idea of multiple personalities is not a disorder or pathological behaviour of the mind but instead is what could be called a default mode. What would lead to pathology would be an inability to realize when you have donned a different hat. In my day to day existence I seamlessly shift between different personalities with each one being utilized in a carefully constructed manner utilized for gain or positive outcomes concerning the self. What I propose here is that the division of the godhead into the many enables many forms of consciousness that are giving feedback which in turn describes the state of creation. What we have here is the all exhibiting multiple personalities and that ability manifests in higher forms of consciousness as well. Perhaps then my conception of ego needs to be clarified. I understand personality as projections of self that I display openly to those around me. I definitely have multiple personalities that are used depending on the situation and context. That's a given with everyone. Does ego as a construct then refer to just the side of you that makes you think in terms of being separate and is always judging others to establish a constant comparative action that reinforces the false feelings of separation and individualism? Then I'd have the idea of an ego side versus the higher self side that feels the wholeness and connection to all; these two sides being the pre-eminent example in our lives representing duality at work. So my dark side is then not necessarily ego based. Well I kind of know that. I realize my dark side's roots are instinctual impulses that have been allowed to become addictive and unhealthy by being mixed into a combination of hedonism and novelty. These behaviours do pull me into a spiral of selfishness so ultimately I do think they are aided and abetted by the ego principle. So ego is behind the aggrandizement of the dark side as it fulfills its goal of separation. A byproduct of this is distraction, these constant diversions keeping you away from any attempts at contemplation or silent meditation where you would have a fighting chance at discovering the higher self.
The self needs an internal and external observer to perpetuate the illusion. As long as you think you are a self you will be a self. The path home is through the heart. When you let go of the attachment of self then you return home. There's no self but there is what some would call a higher self or access to the mind at large that is present in our islands of ego. That seems to be the fount of intellect and conscious awareness. In my experience that seems to be masculine. Also in my experience that I've come across multiple times is a feminine other that is love and gives me a feeling of warmth in my heart. She can be mother, lover, and intuitive wisdom. She also feels like she is a part of me. The soul is the heart who is the mother. We talk of a soul as if it is a separate piece of us unique to each individual. The soul that we can experience is common to all as the mother. This is no more startling revealed then when drinking Ayahuasca and encountering a feminine presence that is collectively called Mother Ayahuasca. The unveiling of the mother would reveal that she is your soul and the same lady that appears in your visions and talks to you is the same who appears to another psychic traveller. Thus a clue into the investigation of who you really are. You are the expression of your parents, the child of the mother and father. The mother takes on many forms and the father as the spirit or mind at large intellectually engages the created form birthed by the mother to create the human which is the crowning achievement of evolution. But once again an enquiry into self will ultimately reveal we are a child of the soul and the spirit and as that child our identity is forever entwined and a direct result of that parentage and to the divine couple we shall return.
All emotions come from the heart. The mind is given free reign to create our world but it is the heart that pays the emotional price for the mistakes and conflict the mind and its brother ego introduces into creation. When the mind gets out of control or is bypassed it slips into ego. Ego locks away the heart. The heart as the princess is imprisoned in a castle made of gold by the dragon, the dragon being the ego. The heart - the soul - is the mother of the dualistic human mind. As such, it is supportive of mind to her determent. When the mind slips into personal aggrandizement and turns on the mother the mother suffers yet does not unleash righteous fury upon this resultant monster.
As an aside let me just state that abstract language, and by abstract I mean that our alphabets are disconnected from image and symbol (think hieroglyphics) and are instead just shapes that have lost meaning for the most part, is the language of the ego mind. Its roots are in the intellectual mind but language has been absconded by the ego to reinforce the idea of nouns as concrete objects, the idea of a separate self and individualism, and is used to capture the imagination of people - the spell aspect of language is very apropos. It enabled the voice in the head to begin a non stop drivel of communication within you. An interesting thought experiment is to pay attention to a voice that comes through to you on a loudspeaker or the radio. It feels like another ego mind vying for attention and control of your thought processes. It then becomes instructive and a necessary step to enter into practices that can turn off this inner voice and allow for communication with aspects of the self that have been obfuscated by this voice.
Exploration of the mind seems like an eternal quest. Psychedelics are a catalyst for exploration but not the be all and end all nor do they provide all the answers you are searching for. They have definitely made me very curious and ready to engage higher faculties of thought and perception in order to try and grasp who I am. They have been very impressive at revealing aspects of my psyche that have been hidden away. Ego, dark sides, tricksters, the lover, the princess in the castle, the soul, the light, the divine feminine and masculine, the mother and the father. It has been post use in the integration period where insights have been quite revealing and rewarding. The symbolic and metaphorical language of the psyche creates riddles and puzzles to be ruminated on and starts the process of introspection and the search for answers. It is a very rewarding experience. I'd say that the primary reason why when I am using them I feel like I am done with them for a long time is because they can be upsetting and very challenging. But then upon returning home and to a sense of normalcy you start to process and integrate the experiences and it is so fascinating, rewarding, and insightful that you get the pull and requisite courage to go through the whole process again. I really appreciate a place like SpiritQuest in that regard because it has structure, it considers it work, is non judgmental, and it is very supportive of the undertaking. It is also valuable because it takes an effort and commitment to make the trip to Peru. If I were to obtain psychedelics closer to home and use them on a regular basis I don't think I would get nearly the same benefit out of the process. They would become habitual and recreational with none of the insights that draw me towards them and I would lose interest.