I’m not one to debate theism. I find the argument uninteresting and unavailing. However, I am interested in understanding how spirituality can be worthwhile to one’s life.
I can enjoy some occasional yoga while I listen to Kesha’s Praying and pretend for a moment that I am one with the universe. But I’m not very spiritual. I don’t chant or meditate. I don’t fast. I don’t crawl a hundred miles on my knees with penitents. I don’t take ecstasy or go to EDC or dance all night at raves.
In all due respect, it’s likely that people who do take part in those activities have their shit together much more than I do. Reason being: they’re seeking the Self.
Today I finished re-reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. In addition to writing about overcoming fear and resistance, he discusses two identity-centers that are at home in each of us: the Ego and the Self.
The Ego believes in material existence: death is real, time and space are real, there is no god, and humans’ predominant impulse is self-preservation and we act out of fear and practicality. The Ego guides our day-to-day business in the real world. It’s an important job.
The Self believes death, time, and space are illusions. The soul endures infinite manifestations. “All beings are one. If I hurt you, I hurt myself.” Love is the supreme emotion and God is all there is. God sustains all planes of reality.
When I read these excerpts from Pressfield, it immediately reminded me of a song (which is actually more of a dialogue) called Waiting Room by the rapper Logic. Logic isn’t normally my jam, but he’s my ex-boyfriend’s jam, and he made me listen to this in my car one day while I groaned and whined and rolled my eyes until I got to the end and realized how great it was.
This dialogue is between God and a human who has just arrived to heaven, AKA a “waiting room.”
Here’s a condensed version:
God: I created this place for you, Atom. This entire place was made for you. Every time I send you back, every life you live, you grow and mature and understand the grand meaning behind all of this just a little more each time.
Atom: Just me? Wait, what about everybody else?
God: Atom, there is no one else.
Atom: I don’t understand.
God: Atom, you are every human being who has ever existed since the dawn of your kind on earth.
Atom: Wait, I’m everyone?! So I’m like, everyone that ever existed on Earth, ever? I’m every human being that ever lived.
God: Or ever will live, yes.
Atom: I’m Jesus?
God: And all of his disciples.
Atom: I’m Hitler?
God: And the millions he murdered.
Atom: That’s deep.
God: You see Atom, every act of hatred and violence you committed against another, you were committing against yourself and every act of love and hand of kindness, you also extended unto yourself.
Atom: God, why do all this?
God: Someday, long from now, you will become like me. You will mature to become what I am.
Atom: I’m a god?
God: No, not yet. You see, I was once where you stand right now. It is not until you have lived every human life inside of your universe that I may take you from this place. Once you have walked in the shoes of every race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, loving and hateful person, it is only then that you will understand how precious life truly is.
For me, the point of all of this isn’t whether or not there is a god. It doesn’t matter if reincarnation is real. We can’t prove it one way or another. However, I think the Ego and the Self will both always live in us, and when trying to understand ourselves and who we are, we need to act on the Self.
I think the Ego and the Self are both important parts of our psyche. Steven Pressfield describes it this way: The Self is our deepest being. Our dreams, ideas, intuitions, and true aspirations come from the Self. The Ego is “I want” and the Self is “I love.” The Ego doesn’t want us to evolve. It attacks our soul and thrives on resistance.
When we sit down to paint, or crack our knuckles before churning out a screenplay, or embark on a business endeavor, or take the first step towards running a marathon, that’s the Self at work. It’s a means to self-transformation. When we’re trying to beat fear or low self-esteem or falsehood or an enemy, it’s a discipline of the soul. It’s not just a materialistic contest, but a spiritual one too.
“The clash is epic and internal, between the Ego and Self, and the stakes are our lives.”
When we act on the Self, we’re betting on ourselves. We’re acting out of love and truth, as if death and time are illusions. As if our creative contributions are a gift to the world and superficial concerns fall away. We’re more in touch with the divine ground.
Whew. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go recover from this spiritual awakening with some SNL and sleep.
Pages read today: 60
Books this month: 2
Chipotle burritos this year: 6