“I can only be of service to others if I work on myself”. – Ram Dass
From a very young age we developed a very strong sense of identity, what psychologist would call an ego. This sense of who we are is often very solid, deeply inflexible and it creates a strong sense of self that directs our life and behaviour.
This sense of self, the feeling of identity is created by the world around us, by the people we interact with and by our genetic make-up. Our identity develops over time and is constructed from these elements as well as from other more subtle factors. It would appear that all of these influences are beyond our control.
Identity from a very young age becomes an overarching element that drives us to do what we do, be who we are, inform our outward identify and trigger how we respond to the world around us.
The problem with self-identity or ego, as some would call it, is that via ‘thinking’ we believe that the ego is rigid and we become trapped in a cycle of fixed behaviour and thought. The ego becomes the driver, and our own true nature becomes the passenger. We are the ‘subject’ to the masters demands.
This cycle can lead us into responses whereby we either see the ego as something that positively pushes us forward in the world and onto greater things OR it can become the cage by which we lock ourselves away from the world. Both viewpoints inhibit personal growth and wellness and stops us being able to fully connect with the world around us especially other people.
The ego becomes a gilded cage through which we see the world. We start to observe what is going on around through opaque and seemingly impenetrable bars. With this obscured sense of who we ‘think’ we are and what it means to be human we truly dis-connect. We start to take a deficient perspective of interconnectedness and are neither helpful to others or ourselves. We are truly trapped.
This self created cell and trapped perspective detaches you from others and from those around. Ego simply becomes a role that you play out and for me this raises a couple of questions….
If I am in a cage, trapped behind a role and concept of ‘me’, how can I help others that are around me? How can I be of service to others if I am trapped behind bars that are seemingly impenetrable? How can I step out of a small sense of self into a much wider and broader sense of who I am, and how can I use the cage that I occupy to be the person who I truly can be?
The place to start is by not seeing your ego as something that is rigid and fixed or that you are trapped behind solid walls. The ego or the self, are all mental constructs that if seen as totally solid can restrict personal growth. Ego however, as an aspect of being human, is neither fixed nor actually completely true. The ego, as a construct, is pliable like soft steel and can be shaped and moulded through personal work and self-reflection.
The ego, if you observe it from the position of observer and not of prisoner, you start to see that it is something that can change. Therefore the ‘bars’ that stand in the way are also not solid and they no longer have the power to stop you moving through them. If you accept this position then can approach the ego constructs, the ‘I am a…’ position and test their validity. You can test whether they will bend and flex, open and allow safe passage onto a greater and more open sense of self.
You will see that you are trapped behind the notion of the bars, the notion of who you think you are and in that realisation you will be able to liberate yourself.
This takes courage and a preparedness to look at everything, warts and all. If you are prepared to get close to the barrier that stops you from seeing the world in all its glory, then you will be able to approach the self-identities and test what stands in your way. You will be able to see your Own True Nature (OTN) and the glory of pure connection to the world, the people who share this world with you and yourself. It is in that pure open response to who you are that you will be able to help others.
Simply by helping yourself, through freeing who you truly are from the cage of ego-self, you are free to connect with the world, face to face. You will be from the roles that you have carried for so long and you can be of service to others from a newly liberated position.