Overcoming Ego and Transforming Self in Confucianism & Taoism

(This is the continuation of a series exploring the nature of the human ego in the world’s religions and science, beginning with this post.)

Confucianism and Taoism are two similar philosophies or religions mainly found in China. They also have a history of teachings about the “self” and overcoming this entity in order to realize a greater union with reality. Continue reading “Overcoming Ego and Transforming Self in Confucianism & Taoism”

The Neuroscience of Ego Dissolution and Transcendence

(This is the continuation of a series exploring the nature of the human ego in the world’s religions and science, beginning with this post.)

“To me, mystical or spiritual experience is what happens when your ego is put aside. Spiritual experience is about a sense of merging with something larger than you. And it’s your ego that stands in the way. To the extent that you can subdue it, or just put it off to the side for a few hours, amazing things happen, and you realize that you are part of a larger energy…”

—Michael Pollan, bestselling author and journalist, from a 2-hour long interview with Tim Ferriss

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Sacrificing Ego-Self in Judaism and Christianity

(This is the continuation of a series exploring the nature of the human ego in the world’s religions and science, beginning with this post.)

In this post I’ll explore the sacrifice of ego or “self” in the traditions of Judaism and Christianity, and how the transcendence of this “self” led one back to God.

Judaism has a lengthy tradition of sacrifice, of sacrificial offerings made to God, called korban. This traces back to the Israelites and Moses, particularly as outlined in the Book of Leviticus. The most common forms of sacrifice were of animals. It is said that God commanded the Israelites to make sacrifices or “offerings,” on altars designated for that purpose, usually in a sacred place such as the Tabernacle, or Temple. Continue reading “Sacrificing Ego-Self in Judaism and Christianity”

Einstein’s Misquote on the Illusion of Feeling Separate from the Whole

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Albert Einstein

This morning I came across a quote in an excellent essay by Daniel Christian Wahl, frequently attributed to the renowned modern theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. Wahl did not misquote him, but it seems to be often misquoted when cited in full. It is this:

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

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Video: Harvard Buddhist Psychologist on the Constructed “Self”

I thought this short video was a beautiful summary and illustration of Buddhist philosophy from Dr. Daniel Brown, a Harvard Psychologist and Tibetan Buddhism scholar. I believe this philosophy may similarly be found in most of the world’s religions, framed in a multitude of different symbols. This is perennial wisdom. I’ll describe some of these further down. (Transcript under video.) Continue reading “Video: Harvard Buddhist Psychologist on the Constructed “Self””

Is Spiritual Purification like Polishing the Tile of the Mind?

I saw a quote on Facebook today:

There is no such thing as “samskaric burdens” except in the imaginings of the mind. When the mind drops away, so does that which imagines itself to be burdened with karma. It is instantaneous. “Cleaning the container” is certainly good for reinforcing the illusion of a more peaceful ego, but it has nothing to do with awakening. You can polish a tile until hell freezes over and you will never turn it into a mirror.

(author unknown)

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Joseph Smith’s “Sinking” Into the Darkest Abyss to Commune with God

A recent quote I saw shared was from the nondual spiritual teacher Rupert Spira, in which he said this:

…just as the beam of light from a flashlight can be directed towards an object but cannot be directed towards the bulb from which it emanates, so awareness, in the form of attention or mind, can direct the light of its knowing towards objective experience but cannot direct itself towards itself.

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