posted on March 4, 2016
By Dr Matt James
“Man is important in one sense only. He was made in the image of God: That is his importance. He is not important for his body, ego, or personality. His constant affirmation of ego-consciousness is the source of all his problems.
When I was younger, I spent a summer with Uncle George Na’ope who was one of my kumu (“teachers”).
Every day when I entered his school of Hula, I saw a phrase above the entrance:
A ohe pau ko ike i kou halau. In English, this means: “Think not that all wisdom is in your school.”
For decades, this phrase has been my constant reminder that my way is not the only way of thinking, being or doing.
I have chosen Huna as my spiritual path and still have a deep respect for other paths that lead to the light.
That said, one particular aspect of many spiritual paths has always bugged me:
The idea that you need to destroy the ego in order to know God or Higher Self. Basically, this perspective wants us to obliterate the conscious mind to let Higher Conscious take control. But in Huna, the indigenous spiritual and psychological practice of the Hawaiian Islands, the ego is a necessary and important part of our development.
First, let’s clear up our terminology. Popular usage of the word “ego” is misleading. When people talk about “leaving your ego at the door” or that “her ego got in the way of her judgment,” they’re referring to a sense of self that is out of whack.
Someone with a “big ego” is typically mistaking “persona”—the mask we show to others—for who they really are. They base their decisions and actions on preserving and aggrandizing this persona. But technically speaking, ego is not persona.
The ego is your conscious mind and it has an important part to play. The conscious mind’s main role is to be the conductor of your orchestra.
An orchestra has musicians and instruments (the unconscious mind) who actually make the music (the Higher Self). These musicians have to work in synch, all playing the same music in the same tempo and with the same feeling.
If they don’t, the result can be pretty ugly. So it’s the conductor’s job is to lead the orchestra, setting the tempo and the dynamics of the piece.
The conductor can’t perform alone. The sound of his or her arms flapping in the air is pretty lame compared to the power of the full orchestra!
What happens if we remove or ignore the conductor (the ego)? The musicians are left without direction. Energy and effort get scattered. Without the leadership of the conductor, the music itself (Higher Self) still exists but it never gets expressed clearly in the world.
The ego acts as the conductor or the director. The unconscious mind and the Higher Self look for direction from the conscious mind.
That might sound odd. We’ve been taught that the Higher Self should be prominent over the ego.
Many of us think that the Higher Self wants to fix us and run our lives. According to Huna, it doesn’t.
The Higher Self doesn’t want to fix us, but it also doesn’t want to not fix us. The Higher Self is totally non-judgmental and non-interfering—but non–interfering is different than non–responsive.
When we pay attention, the Higher Self will point out aspects of the path that are important to us. It will assist but it will not interfere with the conscious mind’s decisions.
Students have said to me, “I’ll just leave it all to Higher Self.” But your Higher Self doesn’t care whether the marketing piece for your upcoming event gets mailed or whether you pick the kids up from school on time.
From a Huna perspective, the Higher Self is non-judgmental and loves you just as much whether you get your assignments in on time or miss your deadlines, whether you eat healthy meals or pig out on Haagen Dazs every chance you get.
It’s your conscious mind—your ego—that makes those choices and decisions. It’s your ego that decides whether to embark on a spiritual journey or camp out on the couch watching reruns of Matlock.
Your ego is the part of you who says, “We have to get this ship going in the right direction.” The Higher Self will assist in your efforts to restore balance but the Higher Self will not initiate the process.
Say for example, I (my ego) decide it’s time to resolve a problem within my business. I’ll clear my mind and focus in: “Okay, this is the issue I want resolved and I want the solution to come through Higher Self in the best way possible for all concerned.” In this way, my conscious mind is directing my unconscious mind and Higher Self to get on board and offer their wisdom.
You can’t eliminate the ego if you plan to stay connected to the rest of the world. You need your ego.
You need to be able to work with and communicate with others. In fact, the idea of destroying the ego is, in my humble opinion, dangerous and crazy!
We have a consciousness for a reason.
Huna teaches that rather than eliminating your ego, the point is to make it pono and aligned with your unconscious mind and your Higher Self.
To become truly empowered, Huna teaches that you need understand the roles of conscious mind, unconscious mind and Higher Self and their relationship to one another.
Rather than killing the ego, let it play its role to the fullest!
To your TOTAL empowerment!
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