The Soul Is Not Nearly As Rational As The Ego
I took today’s post subject line from Thomas Moore’s book which uses it as the title of one of the chapter-like entries. I am finding this book very, very interesting; and part of that interest is sparked by the composition style of the book which reminds me of blog posts. Each section is self-contained but also at the same time, a part of the whole. In this particular entry, Moore talks about ego and about our social problems.
“It is essential in modern life to adore the ego, to think that our social problems and our personal struggles will be resolved one we understand the situation and gain control over it. The current idea of a well-adjusted person is one who is unusually conscious and in charge. It is assumed that the purpose of life is to be more of an ego, successful in the eyes of the world and sanctioned by a swelling egotistical bank account.” [p. 59]
Well, to be honest, I have subscribed to this basic notion for a long, long time, especially the part about being unusually conscious and in charge. I have made a life-long process of learning as much as I could as I have always believed that in knowing, in being conscious and aware of as much as possible, I would be protected from harm and would avoid becoming a victim of the power of others. To be fair, growing through childhood and living with physical, emotional and sexual abuse, I learned early that the world was not kind to the naive. I built up my barriers of protection using degrees, certificates, big words and a study of human psychology and communication – all of these things so that I could be in charge – in charge of myself. I had it all – a career, a family and high social standing in the community with a bit of money in the bank and all of my bills paid. I was, in a word, successful.
Thankfully a midlife crisis took charge and taught me otherwise. Knocked down, I found myself a victim again, but this time a victim of my ego which had worked overtime to convince me of the lie of my belief in the supremacy of my ego. I was knocked down low enough to catch a glimpse of my soul.
“When we live from a deeper, we become palpably aware that life is fundamentally mysterious and is ultimately incomprehensible to our rational ways of thinking . . . As we move closer to a soulful life, we learn to live with unruly passions and unpredictable fantasies.” [p. 60]
But I was a slow learner and not so willing to give up my control and my carefully crafted identity. I made a project out of my entrance into psychoanalysis, that of mastering the process so that I could direct the analysis to meet me ego’s ends, to return back to business as if nothing had happened. But my night dreams and the wakened and stirred contents of the soul protested and continued to try and knock some sense into me. But I held my ground and made it to retirement with my reputation intact and my economic future secure. Now, I have the time and luxury of a life of relative ease. Well, the soul had other plans for me.