As William and Charmaine walked toward the bridge late the next afternoon, he spotted a fast food place.
“Mmmm. That looks like my dinner calling out to me.”
They stopped and William decided to get a small salad to go in-stead of his usual fried foods. Normally, he would really pack it away. But today he ate more peacefully, only eating what he needed to ease his hunger. He actually took the time to enjoy the texture and flavor of each mouthful.
“You know, I guess I’ve been on auto-pilot so much I’ve never re-ally paid much attention to the food I eat. I just get it in my mouth and swallow it as fast as I can so I can shove some more in. These vegetables are actually pretty tasty. I guess that’s the point, isn’t it, to feel and be more aware of everything each moment?”
“There’s a lot to be found in those moments of now when we are more fully aware, William.” Charmaine nodded as she bent down to smell a fragrant flower. “Imagine how staying in the moment might aﬀect all the diﬃcult situations at your job. You might notice that you listen better. You would be more able to set boundaries - to say ‘no’ to things that don’t feel right, and be able to let go of things that don’t really matter. You might notice how others react no longer has the power to determine how you feel. You might become a more creative problem-solver. Your intuition will better guide you about when and how to bring things up to your boss. There’s no end to the kind of positive changes you might see.”
They continued their walk to the bridge, marveling at the constant movement of the city, filled with delicious scents of flowers and freshly cut grass. William noticed the vibrant colors and all the various sounds. He admired the eﬀects of the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the skyline of buildings. Charmaine noticed her ankle was still sore from her tendency to see how fast she could take a corner . She did like to roller blade on the ‘edge’.
As they reached the bridge, William turned to Charmaine. “Tell me about the third Clue - about the soul and the ego.” They sat down together on a bench and gazed at the beginning
of what would become a glorious sunset over the distant mountains beyond the city. They were quiet for a while.
“This is truly a special place,William. Thank you for bringing me here.”
“It’s nice to have a friend to share it with, Charmaine.”
The Soul (Love)
“William, I invite you to consider how we are all ‘wired up’. Imagine looking at it this way. You have a mind and you have a body. But you are not your mind and you are not your body. There is a bigger, deeper you that has your mind and body. This deeper you is what I call the soul. When I speak of the soul I am referring to that aspect of our being, in fact, the very essence of our being, which connects us to all of life, each other, the earth and all its creatures and to the Source. I refer to the soul by many words and phrases such as spirit, inner or higher self, deeper self, our big mind, the loving witness within, the open heart. I consider it to be our access point to the Divine, the Source. The soul is beyond the realm of the intellect and the mind/body. It is beyond finite definition. Our words can only point to it. It is not measurable in the science of physical reality. It is bigger than that. In fact, physical reality only exists in the context of the Divine.”
“We all have access to a shared and very real experience of this Source. We may or may not be consciously aware of this connectedness but it is very real. It is, and we are part of, the Mystery. This deeper awareness is never caught up in the future or the past. It is totally present. There is no fear in this place because there is nothing to be afraid of. There is no loneliness because there is nothing from which the soul is separate. This is not a physical place in your body. It is the essence of every cell that has ever been in your body. You can experience this place when your heart is open to life and you are fully present. It is possible to learn how to cultivate a deeper and more frequent awareness of this Divine presence.”
“At any given moment of now, it all depends on whether you identify with your ego, your mind/body or whether you identify with your soul, the loving witness deep within.
Each moment of now is a totally new opportunity to either open your heart and live from your soul or to close oﬀ and remain stuck in your ego with all its symptoms. Getting to inner peace is not about creating peacefulness. It is about learning how to choose to go to the place where your natural peacefulness is always waiting.”
“And where is that?”
“Your soul, William. Being fully present in a moment of now feels like falling in love – with life.”
The Ego (Fear )
“I think of the ego as our mind/body in physical reality. It’s the part of us that thinks it is us. I think of the ego as our conditioned mind, our little mind, as diﬀerentiated from our big mind, our universal mind - our soul,” Charmaine continued.
“Our ego is always based in fear, scarcity and separation. Our ego, in its innocent but misguided way, only knows to look out in the world of physical reality or at itself for all the problems and their solutions. It’s wrong on both counts. Always, the problems - or suffering - come when we identify with our ego rather than our soul. All our suﬀering comes from the attachments our ego has formed out in the world.”
“Do you mean that our ego always thinks the problems and solutions in life are either out in the world or with itself, like if it would just grow up or not be so clumsy or get this amount of money or that relationship, whatever... then everything would be okay?” William asked.
“That’s right. But remember, our ego is not the enemy. It is completely innocent and yet totally misguided in its commitment to the notion that its survival depends on staying in control. Our ego thinks that control is necessary for it to find happiness out in the world, the only place it knows to look.”
“Charmaine, so what good is the ego? It sounds like it’s the source of all my problems.”
“The value of the ego is that it is the mechanism by which the Source creates the unique and inescapable opportunities for each of us to do the healing work we came here to do. There is a purpose to life, William. Think of life as a healing journey. Each of us is infinitely unique, like each grain of sand, each leaf, each snowflake. The ego is the predetermined pallet from which we exercise our free will to paint the living picture that is our life. The usefulness of the ego is that it can’t help but lead us to the joys and the suﬀerings of our life, depending on how we exercise our free will. We either learn through joy or we learn through suﬀering. That expression of free will forms our life’s healing journey.”
The Illusion of Control and Fear
“Actually, control is an illusion. We have never been in control for a moment in our entire lives. Control is a mechanism designed by our ego for its own survival. Our ego thinks its survival depends on it being and staying in control. One of the ways our ego does this is by holding on to its evidence and being right. It would generally rather be right than get what it said it wanted in the first place - to be happy.”
“The mechanism our ego uses to try to stay in control is by our fear-based thoughts. Its favorite strategy for staying in control, therefore, is to avoid certain intense or unpleasant feelings. That’s because from our ego’s point of view, if we are feeling intense feelings we are not going to be in control. And isn’t it interesting that it’s these very thoughts that actually cause us to feel our fearful, insecure feelings?”
“You mean, if we were in an intensive care unit, brain dead, no cerebral activity, flat-lined, we would not be feeling any feelings?”
“Exactly. For us to have a feeling we need to have a thought. The feelings that come from fearful thoughts include anger, greed, resentment, guilt, vindictiveness, spite, jealousy, arrogance, boredom, impatience and criticalness of ourselves and others. They also include many kinds of anxieties, depressions, phobias and obsessions. The list goes on and on and on. And if you chase these fearful thoughts down, you will find they always take you to the same place: a fear of loss of love. It is fear of being alone, abandoned, not seen, not safe and not connected to anything or anyone.”
“Another of our ego’s favorite strategies for staying in control is to try to figure out why we are feeling a specific feeling. It thinks that if it could figure out why we are feeling something it would not actually have to feel it, thereby losing control.”
“And here is an interesting little irony, William. The ego’s desire to stay in control comes out of its desire to finally feel safe, secure and free. The irony is that when it finally is willing to surrender the illusion of control and allow the soul’s Divine love into its awareness, we feel a natural sense of being safe, secure and free.”
“So,” said William, “when I let go, I feel the very love my ego was looking for in the first place. Geez, my ego must be very afraid. It really is totally misguided.”
“William, it sounds like you’re experiencing compassion for your ego right now, aren’t you?”
“I guess I am.”
“While we’re on the subject of control, here’s a concept you might want to think about William: all fear is illusion.”
“Fear is an illusion, too?” he asked, amazed. “Fear feels pretty real to me!”
Charmaine smiled. “Have you ever had a bad dream – a real nightmare?”
“Well, sure. Lots of them, especially lately. Why?”
“What makes it a bad dream is that first, you don’t know you are dreaming. It seems very real. Second, you can never seem to get away from the boogieman or the boogie situation. But what works when you’re having a bad dream?”
“Waking up,” he answered.
“And when you wake up what do you say to yourself?” “Thank God it was just a bad dream!”
“You are really saying it had no reality at all. It was all inside your head – just thoughts originating in your mind. When you are strug-gling in your life, William, you are eﬀectively just having a bad dream. You simply think you are awake.”
“It’s all in your head. They are just thoughts coming from your fear-full, insecure mind. This is true even though those fearful thoughts can seem very real.”
“Hmmm, I need to think about that,” he said. “If fear is an illusion... what’s all the fuss? Why do we put so much energy into worrying about stuﬀ that’s not real?”
Charmaine laughed. “The stuﬀ is real – but your reaction to it, the meaning you bring to it, creates peace or pain. Your choice. So, the less fear you call up, the more energy you will have for living well and the more free you will feel.”
“Here’s another interesting thing, speaking of freedom. An in-teresting definition of freedom is being in a moment of now in which there is no feeling you are afraid to experience.”
“That’s another good one. Where do you get all these little ditties?” “The reason that some of these ditties, as you call them, resonate
with you is that it’s only on the surface that we’re all diﬀerent. At the core of our being we all share the same spiritual knowing. But to answer your question, I think these little ditties simply come from spontaneous thoughts over many years of practicing the Clues.”
“There are two kinds of power, William. There is soulful power and there is egoic power. The ego’s power is always based in scarcity. It only exists in the finite and closed system of the ego. For you to have more, someone else always has to have less. Soulful power is based in an infinite and open system of abundance. It doesn’t require anyone else to have less for you to have more. In fact, the more everyone has the better.
“Gee, it sounds like our ego is afraid of not ever finding what we already have inside us.” William said.
“That’s really the heart of the matter,”Charmaine agreed. “And the implications of that moment-to-moment dance between the soul and ego is what makes up the quality of our experience of everything and everyone in our life. Finding your soul occurs when the ego allows the soul’s love into the moment. It happens as our ego begins to see that surrendering is a safe thing to do. The kind of surrendering we are talking about here is not surrendering to anything or anyone out in the physical world. It is the ego momentarily releasing its grip on the illusion of control. It is the ego surrendering to the soul.”
“So, there is a soulful, spirit-based place inside each of us where we’re always at peace, safe, secure, clear, strong, gentle and wise. I like the sound of that.”
“If we are not experiencing those things in our life, William, it’s not because they’re not there. It’s because we’re not where they are. It’s an inward journey and there are tools of both understanding the mechanisms and tools of practice that can help us spend more of our life coming from that place. It’s the dance between the soul and the ego. And it happens in every moment of now in our entire lives, whether we are aware of it or not. It’s what determines the quality of our life, moment-to-moment. We naturally already experience more time in this loving space than you might guess. It’s just that when our hearts close and our ego’s fear-based thoughts take over, life is so unpleasant that we just think it’s most of the time.”
“It sounds like our ego’s intention is to find the love it’s looking for in every place except where it really is.” William said.
“Yes. It’s an inward journey to the soul rather than an outward one somewhere in the world. Scarcity and loneliness are illusions. They are only thoughts from the ego’s fearful and insecure perspective. In the soul there is no experience of loneliness because there is nothing from which you are separate. An open heart is the safest place in the world, William. All we will see is each other’s innocence. By innocence I mean the soul’s natural and absolute love, acceptance and compassion for everything including our ego. The soul sees the innocence of our ego’s intentions.”
“I’ve always thought of what you call the soul as my inner self,” said William shyly, “but I have a hard time describing it or figuring out what it really means.”
“Don’t be confused or distracted by all the words I use to describe this essence. By its very nature, all the words in all the languages are inadequate to fully describe it. The words just point to it.”
“You know, Charmaine, I think if I could just understand the nature of my soul and how to relate to it, my life would be smoother.” “Here’s some good news for you, then,” she said. “Can you now see that your soul is also your personal access point to the source of all life – the Infinite, the Divine, to what many people refer to as
“My soul is my access point to God,” he repeated thoughtfully. “Think of it this way. We are spiritual beings who take birth into physical reality. We thereby enter into the illusion of separateness from the Divine, the source of infinite love. We naturally identify with our new physical world and our ego - our mind/body. The illusion of separateness is what happens every time we identify with our ego and physical reality rather than with our spiritual essence, our soul.”
“When we innocently identify with our ego we inevitably experience a deep need to feel loved, safe, special and whole. We need an absolute guarantee of totally unconditional love in every moment of now for our whole lives. And from our ego’s point of view we only see one direction to look for it - out in the world.”
“But none of us ever get that kind of love for very long if at all, do we?”
“No, we don’t, William. The problem is that we have taken birth into a world of physical reality that does not make the love we need in the size package we need it. That is, of course, except for every once in a while just long enough to suck our ego into thinking it re-ally could find it out in the world. But then that source of love goes away, has to go to work, or is in a bad mood, or gets a better oﬀer - or even dies. Now this may sound like a nasty little cosmic trick. We suﬀer at our inability to find the love we truly need and want. That suﬀering is trying to tell us something. It is telling us stop struggling out in the world. When we have finally suﬀered enough and finally do let go, we discover that through our soul we have access to the infinite and unconditional love that our ego was misguidedly looking for out in the world.”
“Now imagine that at every moment ...” “...of now,” William interjected cheerfully.
“...yes, every moment of now,” Charmaine smiled encouragingly, “there are only two possible experiences you can have. There is love, or there is fear. Another way to put it: there is soul or there is ego, open-heartedness or closed-heartedness. There is the big mind or the little mind. Living in balance or in a reactive state. Being centered or oﬀ-centered.
“Sounds like there are a lot of ways to describe it,” said William. “Actually, these are really several ways to say one thing – soul or ego.”
“Is it really that simple?”
“Yes. This is one of life’s great paradoxes. At the level of the ego and physical reality, life is so infinitely complex that you could never figure it out. At the level of the soul it is as simple as this: at every moment of now we are either coming from our soul or our ego. It can alternate between varying degrees of one or the other, but at each moment of now, it will always be either soul or ego taking the lead. And that is what determines the quality of our lives, from moment to moment.”
“Think of it this way: at every moment of now we are either coming from love or we are coming from fear in terms of how we see our-selves, how we relate to each other and how we experience the world around us. You see, the quality of your life is not determined by what happens in the world, not by what we have or don’t have or even by how others do or do not behave. Remember, the quality of your life, William, is totally determined by whether you identify with your ego or with your soul in each moment of now.”
“Even if I completely mess up in one moment, I don’t have to be discouraged, do I? Because I have the next moment to make a choice that works better for me!”
“Right,” Charmaine agreed. “You’re not obligated to stick with a choice that doesn’t work for you. One moment of now doesn’t define you any more than one frame in a movie makes an entire story.”
“Now I understand what being a work in progress means,” said William. “If I live with awareness, I am creating and re-creating my-self each moment, aren’t I?”
“Yes. And all the things in life that work come from that state of love, soul, or open-heartedness. What works are compassion, patience, forgiveness, mercy, tenderness, clarity, intuition, creativity, playfulness and wisdom. And our soul is also where we find not only our gentleness but our strength. Herein lies our real power. It is not power over anybody or anything, but a power that comes from a groundedness, a centeredness, a clarity that has its own power.”
“The things that come from fear are not bad or evil. It’s just that when we get stuck in them, our life doesn’t work very well. Fear breeds anger, greed, resentment, guilt, vindictiveness, shame, spite, jealousy, arrogance, boredom, anxieties, phobias, obsessions and de-pression.”
“Sounds like a description of my life,” muttered William.
“Most people’s lives. Anger, for example, is a very common experience. Think of a moment when you were angry at your boss...”
“I can think of dozens of moments like that! My jaws get tight just thinking about them!”
“You know, the anger isn’t the primary or even secondary emotion.”
“No. Any time you’re angry or see someone else who is angry, be-neath that anger you will always find hurt. The anger can be so ugly, toxic or even lethal that it’s sometimes hard to see the hurt under the anger. Yet, if you could clearly see the hurt, you would also see a kind of innocence about it.”
“Like an injured lion cub who strikes at anything that comes near,” William nodded.
“Look under the hurt and you will find fear.” “Always?”
“Always...and here’s the kicker. If you look under the fear, you will find that it always takes us to the same place - fear of loss of love. We humans fear being rejected and abandoned. We fear not being seen or respected and appreciated because we need to be included and held as special. All the negative stuﬀ that comes from our ego’s fear-based angry thoughts are part of an innocent but misguided strategy for love or survival.”
“So the angriest among us are really just very hurt and afraid.” “That’s true. And here’s the point. Until we realize that the love and security we all long for only comes through an inward journey, we are bound to be stuck in our suﬀering.”
“Where do I buy a ticket, then? I need to take this journey!” “You already have a ticket. Once you learn to tap into your inner access to love, you will discover an amazing thing. Now pay attention my friend. If you remember nothing else we’ve talked about, remember this: you bring that love and security to your life, to all of your activities and relationships instead of trying desperately to find it in them.”
“That is amazing! If that’s true, I really do get to write my own ticket to happiness without looking for it in some one or some thing else! So tell me more about how to write my own ticket.”
“Ok, let’s get practical,” Charmaine said. “It’s important to understand how we are wired up. It’s possible to develop your awareness so you can begin to notice when your heart is open and when it is not.”
“Like a sign that says ‘Open’ or ‘Closed’?”
“Just like that. Although it’s relatively easy to see in others, it’s a little trickier to see in ourselves. To have awareness, it’s necessary to take a step back. That’s why practices that help develop our ability and inclination to lovingly observe our own thoughts, feelings and physical sensations are so important.”
“Practices like meditation?”
“That’s what is most helpful to me. It helps me learn to open my heart.”
“So opening my heart is a learnable skill?”
“Absolutely. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Once you begin to notice when your heart is open and when it’s not, you can begin to choose, in some moments of now, to come from love rather than fear. I’m not suggesting that you can always do this in every single moment of now, but I assure you it is possible in more moments than you would ever imagine.”
“Just increasing the percentage of time I live in moments of now would be worth it,” William said hopefully.
“That is my goal,” Charmaine said. “But it’s important to under-stand that I’m not implying you would be a better person if you do this. It’s just that everything in your life works better when you live from your soul rather than your ego. Remember, your ego is not the enemy. This is about opening your heart even to your own closed-hardheartedness.”
“You mean, to be kind to that part of myself that believes in fear, control and scarcity?”
“Yes. Your ego isn’t bad - it’s part of who you are. This is where the experience of loving yourself, holding your ego with tenderness and mercy, can truly nourish and re-energize your life.”
“If my heart is open - which sounds like another way to say vulnerable - and I’m coming from my soul, won’t others see me as weak and try to take advantage of my gentleness?” asked William anxiously. “That could be a real problem where I work. It’s so competitive there. Upper management even seems to pit us against each other!”
“That’s a fair question.” said Charmaine. “And the answer is no. That is just what it looks like to your ego as it anticipates letting go of its struggle. Nobody can cause you to feel pitted against anybody if you are coming from your center. Feeling pitted against someone can only come from your own ego’s fearful, insecure thoughts.”
“When you live and work from soulfulness, William, you are most eﬀective in all the things you do. In this centered place you have access to your backbone as well as your gentleness. This is where you can temporarily set aside your own point of view to really hear others, because an open heart is free of your ego’s attachments out in the world. You have access to your clarity and your wisdom. This is true in any crisis. It is true in any confrontation or dispute.”
“From this open-hearted stance, you’ll know when to let go of things that don’t really matter and when to stand tall on the things that do. An open heart is not at all weak, but neither is it mean-spirited. Your soul is also where you will find your sense of timing and balance, your discernment and compassion, your intuition and your creativity. And how do you suppose you can get to this open-hearted place?”
“Let me guess. I already have the ticket to get there,” William said, grinning.
“Good guess. You’re getting it. All you have to do is take a breath and connect with that loving witness within.”
The two friends sat quietly for a few more minutes as the sherbet orange of the sky turned to soft twilight blue. A single star pierced the transparent dome, as the moon rose to light their silhouettes on the bridge.
Clue # 3: “Learn to Choose Soul Over Ego, Love Over Fear.”
We can learn to choose our soul rather than ego, love over fear, an open heart over a closed one, our ‘big mind’ over our ‘little mind’. Which one you live your life from in each moment is ultimately what determines the quality of your life. The soul is your access point to the Source and all its gifts. The value of the ego is that it is the predetermined mechanism by which the Source creates the unique and inescapable opportunities for each of us to exercise our free will to do the growing and expanding work we came here to do. Understanding and consciously participating in the dance between the soul and ego and learning to choose between them is the key to soulful living.
• Our soul is who we really are, the very essence of our being.
• Our soul connects us to all of life and the Source.
• Our soul is the deeper, bigger us that contains within it our mind and our body – our ego.
• You can experience your soul when your heart is open to life and you are fully present.
• It is in our soul that we will find access to our clarity, intuition, tim-ing, balance, wisdom, patience, discernment, creativity, gentleness and our backbone, our soulful power.
• Our ego is our mind/body in physical reality.
• The value of the ego is that it is the mechanism by which the Source creates the unique and inescapable opportunities for each of us to do the growing and expanding work we came here to do.
• Our ego thinks it is us.
• Our ego is our conditioned mind, our little mind, our reactive mind.
• Our ego is always based in fear, scarcity and separation.
• Our ego is completely innocent but totally misguided.
• Our ego believes in the notion that its survival depends on staying in control.
• Our suﬀering comes when we identify with our ego rather than with our soul.
• All our suﬀering comes from the attachments our ego has formed out in the world.
• Our ego’s fear-based thoughts are the source of all our fear-based feelings such as hurt, anger, guilt, resentment, vindictiveness, spite, jealousy and boredom.
• Our ego’s fearful thoughts are basically the fear of loss of love.
• Practice opening your heart to your own closed-heartedness.
The Illusion of Control and Fear
• Control is an illusion. We have never been in control for a moment in our entire lives.
• Control is a mechanism designed by our ego for its own survival. Our ego thinks it is us and that its survival depends on being and staying in control. And it does this by way of fear-based thoughts. It is these thoughts that actually cause us to have fearful, insecure feelings.
• One of our ego’s favorite strategies for staying in control is to avoid certain intense or unpleasant feelings. That is because from our ego’s point of view, if we are feeling intense feelings we are not going to be in control.
• Another of our ego’s favorite strategies for staying in control is to try and figure out why we are feeling a specific feeling. It thinks that if it could actually figure out why we are feeling something it would not actually have to feel it, thereby losing control.
• All fear is an illusion, just thoughts from our fearful, insecure ‘little mind’, like a bad dream.
• If you chase these fearful thoughts down you will find they always take you to the same place. It is a fear of loss of love. It is fear of being alone, abandoned, not seen, not safe and not connected to any-thing or anyone.
There are two kinds of power in the world:
• There is soulful power which is based in an infinite and open system of Divine love. It does not require anyone else to have less for you to have more. In fact, the more everyone has, the better.
• There is ego power which is based in a finite and closed system of scarcity and separation. For anyone to have more somebody else has to have less.
• We are spiritual beings who have taken birth into physical reality.
• We thereby enter into the illusion of separation from the Divine. This happens in every moment in which we identify with our ego rather than our soul.
• We all have a need for an absolute guarantee of totally unconditional love. When we innocently identify with our ego and physical reality we can only see one place to look for that love - out in the world.
• We have taken birth into a world that does not oﬀer the love we need in the size package we need it.
• When we have suﬀered enough in our inability to find the love we need out in the world, we can learn to surrender the illusion of control and begin the inward journey to our access point to the infinite love from which we came.
• The quality of our lives is determined by whether we identify with our soul or our ego in each moment of now.
• Finding the love, safey and freedom for which we long is an inward journey to the soul rather than an outward journey somewhere in the world.
• Our ability and inclination to lovingly observe our own thoughts, feelings and physical sensations is a passage way to the soul.
• ‘Awareness’ is the most powerful agent of change.
• When you live from your soul at work you are most eﬀective in all the things you do.
Understanding the Benefits of Learning to Choose Soul over Ego
Our ego breeds anger, greed, resentment, guilt, vindictiveness, shame, spite, jealousy, arrogance, boredom, anxieties, phobias, obsessions and depression.
Our soul is where we find our compassion, forgiveness, mercy, tenderness, clarity, intuition, creativity, playfulness, wisdom, gentleness and power.