A follow up to Monday night’s post on the relationship between life purpose, ego and higher essence.
Q: “How do you suggest one finds their life purpose and identifies their higher essence?”
A: I’ve come to understand and offer a variety of methodologies to support people in finding their higher essence, which is achieved by piercing the veil of the Self-contracted ego.
Roughly these methodologies may be summarized as Waking Up, Cleaning Up, & Growing Up (aka Structuralism).
The primary methodology here is is the perennial meditative path, which across traditions and schools within traditions, invariantly looks like a “state-stage” progression through Gross, Subtle, Causal and Non-dual.
This meditative stage stage path begins with stabilizing concentration, which means being able to tame the mind, which is likened to a wild monkey or wild elephant. Most people who have not trained extensively in meditation find when they start, that their mind is full racing thoughts and chatter. They may or may not be aware of how incessant this mental chatter is, as they move about through daily life.
Once one has tamed the monkey mind, once can move to awareness practice or insight meditation, where one learns to dissolve the conventional notions of self, body, thoughts, emotions and time. Through this process one comes to have a direct experience of deeper layers of reality previous imperceptible to them. This state is reported by many like “experiencing reality anew”, where it is now saturated with qualities like love, light, interconnectedness and oneness.
Psychedelics can accelerate one down the Waking Up path if one has proper guidance. But without proper guidance or meditative training, most people interpret psychedelic experiences in a way that reinforces the self-contracted ego, rather than liberating them from the ego into aspects of their higher essence, which is one of the primary points of meditation and the Waking Up path.
On psychedelics people will often peak into many of the same insights they would find on the meditative path, but they are not able to stabilize these insights or integrate them into their life, because they don’t have the necessary foundations which are acquired through meditation.
One of my favorite quotes from Ken Wilber here is, “states can come for free, but structure is earned”. (Psychedelics are the state, meditation builds the structure). Given how powerful psychedelic experience can be, you might even see meditation as training or preparation for psychedelic experiences. Meditation is like going to the gym to lifts weights so you are strong enough to handle the energy that comes barreling through your consciousness from psychedelic intake.
If you progress along the awakening path, but do not do Clean Up, by healing past wounds, becoming complete with your past, releasing limiting beliefs, reclaiming split off parts of yourself in all their dark and light, then you will be significantly subjugated to what is often called your “shadow”.
No amount of meditation can heal your shadow. In fact, counter-intuitively, meditation actually reinforces your shadow and makes it worse. Meditation enables one to release previously held attachments, but if there is a part of your consciousness that is hidden in your shadow through disassociation, meditation will only further the disassociation of that unclaimed part of your self. The uncleaned, unkempt shadow is particularly damaging for those who progressive far along the Waking Up path, for they experience legitimate spiritual insights, which by the time they brought into social reality through words or action, are already deeply subconsciously tarnished by the hidden shadow. This dynamic is how most gurus have fallen from grace.
Particular forms of psychotherapy are the primary methods of Cleaning UP. The Landmark Forum is a quite popular and effective beginner’s clean up methodology. It is however in my opinion, an inadequate and counter-productive advanced practice, primarily because it misses a number of key integral perspectives. So it’s important to graduate from the planet known as Landmartian.
You can also perceive your higher essence through understanding many of the structural elements that have made and make you, “you”. Your higher essence can begin to be understood by seeing how your first person felt experience is accurately described by many different models of consciousness. Such as when many people discover their Myers Briggs type and exclaim, “I’m totally a ENFP”. That a pattern like ENFP can describe core aspects of someone’s self-identity demonstrates the ways in which you are similar to other people, rather than your “differentiation” or “uniquneness”. In that system it shows you are a very different from 15 other types of people but very similar to 1 type of people.
The most important structures for perceiving essence are probably your personality type (enneagram, Myers Briggs) and the developmental levels (or stages) of various lines of your psyche (or in technical terms the Integral Psychograph). Once you understand how other people with similar types and stages are similar to you, but also very different, you can begin to perceive the uniqueness of your essence. You might see essence as the negative space of your psychic structure. Other important structures in addition to the psychological ones I’ve mentioned are Biological and Sociological structures, i.e. how you’re a product of your genetics and your culture.
From this structural perspective, higher essence can be seen to be like a subtle energetic force that flows through a particular, identifiable psychological vehicle. Or like sunlight flowing into a glass prism, refracted into the unique Rainbow of colors that is you and your life. The sunlight is your essence, the prism is your human body/mind, the light is your effect on the world. By understanding all that science has to say about the patterns of your glass prism you can begin to parse out your unique higher essence.
After higher essence is found and deepened through Waking Up, Cleaning Up, & Growing Up the next step is Showing Up, which means demonstrating through embodied action all of the results attained through the practice of Wake Up, Clean Up, Grow up. And if you can consistently Show Up over weeks, months and years, the natural progression is an accumulation of positive Karma resulting in Blow Up, which is the positive transformational effect of your life on society at large.
The best public distillation of the framework I’ve outlined here of Wake Up, Clean Up, Grow Up, Show Up, Blow Up, is from my friends at the recently launched Human Program (https://thehumanprogram.com/)
May this post stimulate the discovery and deepening of the higher essence that is always already just beneath your conventional notion of self, waiting to be discovered and channeled,
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.