The Search for Home & Ego 101
After long searches here and there, in temples and in churches, in earths and in heavens, at last you come back, completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul …
—Swami Vivekenanda (Cope 1999, 290)
Since the childhood drama, I was prone to depression; this was my suffering to bear. I felt very alone and sad and couldn’t figure out why. Little did I know that I was probably experiencing PTSD from living in such a toxic emotional environment for so long. By this time, my parents’ fighting had stopped for the most part, but my brother, whom I loved dearly, had gone off to college. I wrote a poem at age eighteen, explaining this feeling inside of me, titled, “Abyss of Loneliness”:
Loneliness creeps into my room like smoke, quietly, but after awhile I begin to smell it and breathe it in, and it begins to choke me. But unlike smoke it won’t kill me, it will just slowly cause my body to melt into a depressing shape. My eyes search desperately for a means of escape, but then I realize I don’t want to escape. I want to become it, so I open the gateways of lonely thoughts and let them flow through my brain and around my body like a net, trapping me but enabling me to see through to the other side, the side I could be on but choose not to. The thoughts and feelings are the same ones as all the other days and nights, but they are magnified this night, bigger and more distinct. Like sharp, giant thorns burrowing into every cell of my body, piercing my nerves and pulling the corners of my mouth down hard as I sob with no clear vision of the end.
I felt very alone, very cut off from anything good or meaningful. I loved my family, but I also wanted to end the pain and suffering, the achingly deep loneliness I felt night after night. Little did I know, I had been cut off completely from what yoga calls my true nature. The ego had done what it does best in this human experience: it made me forget who I really was as one with all of creation and with God Himself. It’s interesting, though, how in this poem, I allude to my understanding that I have a choice to stay in this suffering or cross to the other side. It’s just like the ego and its thought system, to convince us to stay in the suffering, to wallow in it. It is evident here that I am deeply homesick. I am lonely for something that I cannot put my finger on, but also, on some level, I am choosing this suffering.
The Search for Home
I’m about to share two quotes. The first is from an Eastern man, Swami Vivekenanda, and the second one is from ACIM, so you can imagine that it’s Jesus speaking through this sacred text.
Both of these quotes are beautiful and seem to speak to my soul.
Swami Vivekenanda said:
After long searches here and there, in temples and in churches, in earths and in heavens, at last you come back, completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul and find that He, for whom you have been seeking all over the world, for whom you have been weeping and praying in churches and temples, on whom you were looking as the mystery of mysteries shrouded in the clouds, is nearest of the near, is your own Self, the reality of your life, body and soul. (Cope 1999, 290)
This quote gives us the sense that we are searching for God outside of ourselves. We have been convinced by our ego-self that we could never be good enough to find God within us, but once we remember that God created us in his image, then we realize that in our true nature as God created us we must be able to find God’s perfection within, God’s wholeness within, and God’s eternal nature within. If we go within, we can find (remember) what we’ve truly been searching for: our truest nature as God created us as whole, perfect, and eternal. The problem is when we are immersed in the ego thought system, the ego will convince us that this belief is egotistical (yes, the ego is manipulative enough to use itself to draw us back into its trap) and sacreligious, thus continuing to fuel our search outside of ourselves. And the cycle continues. The next quote is from ACIM:
You will undertake a journey because you are not at home in this world. And you will search for your home whether you realize where it is or not. If you believe it is outside you the search will be futile, for you will be seeking it where it is not. You do not remember how to look within for you do not believe your home is there. Yet the Holy Spirit remembers it for you, and He will guide you to your home because that is His mission. As He fulfills His mission He will teach you yours, for your mission is the same as His. (ACIM T-12.5)
Both these quotes are touching on the fact that we are homesick and we are searching far and wide for something, something that fills us up and makes us feel complete. We are searching for our true home. We are searching for God. We are searching for the remembrance of our true nature as whole, perfect, and eternal.
Everything we get or think we want in life is just a poor substitute for what we already are in abundance in our true nature, which is our true home. We have this deep memory of our true home and glimpses of it throughout life, but we don’t remember how to awaken to it or how to consciously remember it at all. For most of us, our human experience is built upon building the ego which blocks us even more from remembering our true home. It is within us, but we cannot comprehend what this means without first understanding the ego’s thought system and how to begin to undo it layer by layer.
The Ego: Constantly Building You Up or Tearing You Down
I grew up with a sister who was always told how beautiful she was; this was hard on me. I never felt pretty. I felt like I was letting my family down for my redheaded, freckle-faced looks. I actually remember my thirteenth birthday, when I opened a gift that was an ugly purse. As I opened it, this thought ran through my head: An ugly purse for an ugly girl. But I never wanted to let my mom know how I was feeling, because I felt I would just let her down.
Sometimes at night, I would sob and grab fistfuls of my belly and dig my nails into the skin as I told myself I wasn’t good enough or thin enough or pretty enough. I was experiencing the aspect of ego that likes to bash and put down and make me think I’m worthless. On the flip side, I experienced another aspect of ego that told me that one day, I would be good enough. One day, I would get the chance to make these kids see me, really see me, instead of walking right past because I wasn’t cute enough to be noticed. I realized much later that this two-faced personality/thought system going on was indicative of the ego and its goal of either tearing me down or falsely building me up. The ego’s belief system had been built so strong in me that it had totally cut me off from who I really was inside. Now I was identifying with a negative self-image, and the ego was driving me to be something more.