There is something else beyond the conscious Ego
The limits of the conscious Ego
In this site the conscious Ego has always been considered as the central, fundamental core of the inner experience of each human being. However, a clear distinction has been made – and repeatedly confirmed – between the conscious Ego and the psychic experiences in which it is involved during the life, highlighting how – especially in our culture – this distinction is almost never taken into account, and the psychic experiences, not the conscious Ego, are considered as the quintessence of the human experience and personality of an individual. Actually the conscious Ego, deprived of the psychic experience that involves it, seems like an empty shell, a sort of indefinite self-consciousness lost in the void, a fish that, pulled out of the sea of the psyche in which it lives, ends up gasping in vain, until it dies. Therefore there seems to be an inseparable bond between the conscious Ego and the psychic experience, and consequently the individuality of the body-mind system represents the tuning element of the psychic experiences that involve a conscious Ego in the course of life.
However, the separation – made at least at a conceptual level – between the conscious Ego and its own psychic experiences has a reason of being, precisely because, in seeking the meaning of human life, we cannot ignore the enormous complex of variants that the psychic experience produces, of which – as we have noted many times – each person experiences a minimal band during his life. For each of us the other can represent something completely alien, because his psychic experiences are very different from ours, especially in the socio-cultural systems that – as is currently the case of the one in which we live – tend to enhance individual experiences, presenting them as values of freedom. But precisely because the conscious Ego tends to be completely dominated by psychic dynamics, the differences between individuals can become unbridgeable, and instead of recognizing in the other a conscious nucleus very similar to ours, even if subject to different psychic tunings, in interpersonal relationships the conflicts that characterize the human psyche as a whole end up prevailing. Therefore the first and most evident limit of the conscious Ego is given by its subordination to the psychic experiences that involve and dominate it, and the recognition of its own autonomy represents the first (fundamental) step towards the liberation from such domination.
We have also highlighted how, in relation to the psychic experiences in which it is involved, the conscious Ego can manifest its volitional intent, aimed at adopting strategies that can be very different from one person to another. Faced with what appear to be analogous or very similar psychic experiences, two individuals can react in a very different way: for example, when faced with a situation that endangers the safety of the body, a person can withdraw while becoming safe, while another can take on an attitude of challenge, even risking his/her life. However, in these cases, while the real situation is objectively perceptible, with regard to the psychic reactions experienced by the conscious Ego of the two subjects we can only rely on the descriptions provided by them, without any possibility of being able to arrive at a direct and objective experimental evaluation: the fear of the person who retreats could be much more intense than that experienced by the other subject, but also the so-called willpower, as we know, is a resource of which people are gifted to a very different degree.
In any case, the level of involvement of the conscious Ego in psychic experiences is determined above all by their emotional tonality, and the strategies adopted by the Ego in a more or less instinctive way tend to do so that it can experience positive or neutral emotional states, avoiding as much as possible the negative ones. However, in most human lives, the succession of experienced emotional states over time seems to have its own inevitability (destiny) that goes far beyond the control capacity of the conscious Ego: the strategies adopted are almost always improvised, amateurish, and determined by programs of low value and not very effective, acquired through interactions with the socio-cultural environment. It is for these reasons that the conscious Ego, instead of being the lord and the governor of the mind, is its prisoner, and the behavior of human beings, instead of being governed by a conscious ruler able to make the best use of its superior resources, appears unpredictable, destructive or self-destructive, and often absurd. Obviously, all this can be attributed to natural, genetic and physiological causes: after all, in accordance with our age's prevailing cultural trend, we are nothing more than (more or less) evolved animals, still produced by natural evolution. Therefore the individual destiny cannot be anything else other than the aleatory and temporary result of the variables in play in nature's dynamics.
The limits of the conscious Ego are determined first of all by its poor ability to react to the psychic experiences that involve it and to defend its autonomy in relation to them, be they positive or negative in terms of emotions. Moreover, the fact of being part of a social environment composed of millions of individuals, each with its own Ego – in turn subjected to other psychic tunings – with all the cultural dynamics, the conditionings and the programs deriving from it, represents another very strong limit to the liberating evolution of the conscious Ego: the possibilities of isolating oneself in a positive environment for this evolution are today very limited. For all these reasons so many human beings end up behaving like automata – not in the sense of mechanical robots but, indeed, human automata – whose conscious Ego, prisoner of its reference psychophysical system, is continually overwhelmed by psychic reactions of all kinds, towards which it has no other defense resources than the poor programs transmitted to him/her by the cultural environment in which he/she lives. The behavior of these human automata can be unpredictable and bizarre: often the consequences of their actions are negative for others and for themselves. As far as their inner life is concerned, the conscious Ego undergoes defenseless, in the course of a lifetime, psychic experiences of every kind, mainly negative, and in many cases it even fails to become aware of its own independent existence.
The liberating desire to exist of the conscious Ego
But it is precisely in this context, so little encouraging for the future of humanity, that the presence of something that exercises a call upon the conscious Ego is inserted, as if wanted to awaken it from the state of helpless passivity towards the human psyche in which it stays throughout life. We could also consider this call as originating from some particular psychic tuning, given that everything which the Ego consciously experiences can be considered psyche, but in this case it is a liberating psychic experience, which presents characteristics substantially different from the usual tunings of the human psyche. These tend to have a coercive and dominant, or deceptive and illusory, effect on the conscious Ego, whether they debase it through negative emotions or sensations such as fear, pain or punishment, or that they conquer it with positive and tempting, even if illusory, allurements like pleasure, ambition, power and the desire for happiness through wealth. All these aspects, however important and convincing they may seem to the conscious Ego, are limited to human life and its duration, while the desire to exist of the Ego goes beyond time, so that the human psyche reinterprets it in the (illusory) terms of limitless elongation of the duration of earthly life (except then having to find also the resources to counteract the deterioration of mental faculties due to age).
A separate discourse must be made for those mental states that show, merged with the characteristic tunings of the human psyche, other psychic experiences that are connected to a different kind of existence, such as mystical experiences, achieved through ecstasy or through the assumption of psychoactive substances, or some NDEs, as we have seen in the section devoted to them, or the condition of happiness sometimes experienced by the conscious Ego of people in reciprocated love. Even if these experiences have a temporal character, in the sense that after some time the mind of the experimenter comes back to the ordinary tunings of the human psyche, in the course of the experience the perception of time can be suspended or replaced by an indefinable feeling of eternity.
The strong reality and the conscious Ego
The progress made by scientific research, and the knowledge derived from it, confirm that all psychic experiences are determined by the functioning of our brain. Not only that, but in the context of strong objective reality, as it appears in our age and in our culture, what exists in time is the brain and its activity, and the same conscious Ego is nothing but a product of such activity. This topic has been dealt with in the page on human consciousness. Consequently, also the conscious Ego should be annihilated when brain activity ceases definitively, due to the process we call death. There is nothing strange in this position, because the human brain is destined to deteriorate and die: up to now, at least, it has always been so. Therefore the brain of a living organism cannot in any way escape the certainty of its own temporary state and death (expressed by the saying: who was born must die) and it is no wonder if this form of awareness is reflected on the conscious Ego.
Faced with this knowledge, which is also well founded in the context of strong reality, people's psychic reactions vary greatly. There are those who accept this fact serenely, considering the strong reality as inevitable and therefore incontestable, and useless and illusory any form of faith in the continuation of our existence in another dimension. Then there are those who, believing that the continuation of existence after death is impossible, are seized by a feeling of discouragement or despair that induces indifference towards life itself, up to the point of making them perform negative actions for others, but even for themselves. There is also the multitude of those who adhere to one of the various fideistic programs that provide for the continuation of individual existence in the afterlife, without explaining how this transition can take place.
It should be well understood that, while remaining within the limits of the strong reality and the scientific knowledge that refers to it, even I (my body, my brain, my psyche), like billions of human beings, am nothing but a particular fragment of an evolutionary process that transcends me, going far beyond the comprehension and control abilities of which I am endowed. At the same time, my conscious Ego – whatever be the cause that created it – has assumed a role of knowledge and a peculiar dignity in front of this process, which give it the right, if not to make judgments, at least to defend the self-affirmation of its own conscious activity. Since I consciously go through the vicissitudes of life, assimilating and digesting both positive and negative psychic experiences, I acquire the right to make a meaning out of my individual existence, something that represents an advantage, an achievement or a merit for me as a conscious Ego, beyond the possible advantage for the evolutionary process that transcends me, in which I am temporarily involved as an actor. And since this meaning is not revealed to me satisfactorily in the course of this life, I can at least defend my right to a more complete existence, and more in harmony with my spiritual needs.
The weak reality and the spirit
Precisely because at the end of my life I will still have to cross, in one way or another, the threshold of death, I cannot and I must not delude myself that my conscious Ego can continue to exist as a product of the brain's activity. The psychic experiences that it will eventually encounter in the afterlife should be allowed by an energy structure of a different nature. The weak reality shows us a particular representation of this energetic structure, which is commonly called spirit. In the context of the strong reality the nature of the spirit escapes us completely, so much so that even its very existence can be questioned. The phenomena and events of the weak reality do not give us an adequate knowledge of the characteristics of the spirit, but present us with a complex (and controversial) picture of the operative possibilities at its disposal. The most important fact for us is that, as we cross the threshold of death, our conscious Ego – freeing itself from the body and brain – would be associated with the spirit and perhaps would also be assimilated by it. The possible relations between the conscious Ego and the spirit in the course of human life have been examined in the page dedicated to the theories about the spirit. Here it is opportune to remember that, even in the context of the strong reality, when one tries to investigate the psyche one must come to terms with that ambiguous and misleading factor which is called with the term of the unconscious.
Besides the mental events that can certainly be attributed to the unconscious activity of the brain (among which the same creativity, whose results can become conscious almost suddenly, after a more or less long period of unconscious elaboration), attempts have been made to attribute to the unconscious also phenomena typical of the weak reality, and in particular of the mediumistic activity. But in this case we encounter an insurmountable difficulty: in fact, the unconscious activity of the brain is exclusively subjective, while many physical phenomena of mediumism can be framed in the objective reality. Therefore it becomes necessary to identify some instrument – distinct from the brain-body psychophysical system – through which the unconscious activity of the brain can exert a physical action on objective reality, although in the context of the weak reality. But, at least until today, this instrument has eluded our capacity for recognition and investigation based on the strong reality, while – in the light of the weak reality – it can be legitimate to attribute to it a spiritual existence (that is, not physical, but not for this reason devoid of its own energy, even if of a nature unknown to us) and call it spirit. In the above mentioned page dedicated to the theories about the spirit, we have also dealt with the possible relationships, interferences and influences that can intervene between the spirit and the conscious Ego of a person, leaving open the question whether the spirit should be considered as a personal entity, connected with the individuality of a single human being, or as an autonomous entity, which can enter into relationship with different people, now with one and now with the other.
What can be said, in any case, is that if the conscious Ego were to cross the threshold of death without being annihilated, it would be received and incorporated into the structure of a spirit, going through a process of transformation characterized by the detachment from the psychophysical structure which encloses it in the course of human life, and from the access to a different order of psychic experiences, on the nature of which some clues are offered to us by many NDEs and by some mediumistic communications. As we had already occasion to notice, in this new dimension the psychic nature of what is perceived as real would be much more evident, even though these psychic experiences would be certainly different from those to which we are accustomed in this life. For example, the desires to which the conscious Ego is particularly sensitive during this life - so much so as to induce many people to imagine as paradise a dimension in which such desires would be fulfilled – could be replaced by completely different desires, precisely of a spiritual kind. It is not to be excluded, however, that the conscious Ego passes through a transitory phase, characterized by the simultaneous presence both of desires of earthly origin and others of a spiritual nature.
The conscious Ego and the spirit
The spiritual existence of the conscious Ego, linked to that alien energy structure (with respect to the body-brain structure with which we temporarily live human life) that we have called spirit, will probably involve a progressive evanescence of the earthly experience. We are not even able to know through which instrument the Ego, once separated from the brain, could still access the memories of its earthly life. It could be objected that without memory there cannot be a continuity of individual existence, and therefore of the Ego's sense of identity, but it does not seem to me that it must necessarily be so: the perception of our identity, as well as the perception of reality, can be independent of memory, even though memory undoubtedly enriches and stabilizes our personal identity. However, in the eventual transition to the spiritual dimension, the Ego could bring with it many memories of its own human experience. But if these memories progressively lose their importance, until they become completely irrelevant in the context of the psychic experiences of the spiritual dimension, what meaning could we attribute to human life?
One possible answer could be this: based on cosmic laws whose origin, at least for now, escapes us, human life (and – why not? – life on other worlds other than the Earth), and the psychic experiences that it entails, could be indispensable for the creation, growth and evolution of the conscious Ego, so that it can then be associated with a spirit in another dimension. In fact, the transformations which the conscious Ego goes through in the course of this life could be interpreted as a preparation and a training for a different type of existence. I wish I could say that this operation will be successful for the conscious Ego of every human being, but I'm not sure, and it certainly doesn't depend on me. If we observe the natural processes, we see that of many eggs produced by an organism only a few develop a new born, the others are assimilated by other organisms or deteriorate due to environmental causes. And even among the new born, few reach maturity. Among higher animals, and in particular among humans, the number of new individuals born at each generation is reduced, parental care is more assiduous and the chances of survival are greater, but – even in this case – only a percentage (more or less high) reaches maturity.
As for the evolution of the conscious Ego, as we have observed, for most human beings, the conditioning, the socio-cultural programs, and above all those psychic tunings whose power of involvement and command on the Ego derives from their widespread diffusion and sharing (and from the weakness of the individual Ego towards the mass), end up prevailing, inhibiting the evolutionary process of the Ego, which can remain blocked at the level that I have called the human automaton. At this stage the energies of the human being can be employed in the best way within the productive, organizational and cultural social system of which a person is a part. However, the doubt remains that in this way the metaphorical human eggs, instead of giving life to chicks, become in effect a beautiful omelette. But it may well be that I am wrong, and that the conscious Ego of every human being can then be associated with a spirit, regardless of its evolution in the course of earthly life. Mine are only particularly insidious psychic lucubrations, about which it is not permissible to proclaim any certainty.
However, the fact remains that the mental activity of some people registers psychic instances whose origin can be defined as spiritual, given that they cannot be attributed either to body instincts of animal origin, or to the most widespread cultural programs and conditionings in our society; indeed, they often come into conflict with both these and those. It is as if the conscious Ego underwent the fascination of a call from something alien to this world and this life. This call can lead to the search for isolation, hermitage, mystical asceticism, up to a complete indifference towards the body and its needs, to the search – already in the course of this life – for a liberation from the bonds that bind the Ego to the body-brain system. Obviously, by attributing every psychic experience to brain activity, it can be objected that these are phenomena determined by anomalies (perhaps also pathological) of a normal brain functioning, but – as we have seen – not all the phenomena of the weak objective reality can be explained in terms of mental activity. It can therefore be reasonably hypothesized that the brain of some people has a special sensitivity and a better receptive capacity towards signals coming from a different dimension than the physical one.
The call of the spirit
If we want to consider the spirit as the source of this signal (which manifests in any case as a psychic experience that – as or more than others – involves the conscious Ego), many questions arise which we are unable to answer: there is a link between this spirit and the conscious Ego? Is the spirit endowed with its own individuality, its own personality, its own consciousness? why does the Ego feel attracted by this spiritual call? It seems to me useless to try to give answers, which would still be free and imaginative, to these questions. But even these psychic instances are in all respects part of the dynamics of the human psyche, and it is important to remember and reiterate how these dynamics – although manifesting in our mind through brain activity – have an origin that remains for us (that is, for our conscious Ego) unknown. We can hypothesize their source, recognize it, call it with one or the other name, but not know it and, less than ever, control it. The psyche is a process that controls and uses us human beings, not vice versa.
The call of the spirit has a particular value because it induces the Ego to become aware of its own autonomy and its neutrality, if so can I express myself, against the dynamics of the human psyche in which it is ensnared, for better or for worse, in the course of earthly life. The spirit shows the Ego the possibility of experiencing psychic tunings different from the human ones, and the Ego begins to awaken from the sleep in which it was under the illusion of being the center of control and command of the psyche. The conscious Ego begins to observe with wonder, but also with serene detachment, the long, complex and unfathomable chain of events that – through the development of the first single-celled organisms, the subsequent evolution of multicellular plants and animals, the organization of the nervous system up to the complexity of the human brain – has led to the birth and growth of that single psychophysical structure constituted by the body and the brain from which its conscious individuality originated. It realizes that, beyond the role played in the evolutionary process of human societies by the intelligence, the will, the creativity and the capacity for action and organization at its disposal, there exists a need that requires its separation with respect to the body and the brain to which it is bound (and of which it is a hostage), and must be aware, if destiny allows it to go through the whole route of human existence, of the deterioration to which may be subject, in the final phase of life, both the body and the mind.
The Ego's awakening is translated into a connection with the spirit, which can occur already in the course of human life: it is as if a channel were opened, allowing the spirit to communicate directly with the Ego, and the Ego to connect with the spirit. The Ego then finds itself in a better balanced condition even with respect to the tunings of the human psyche, which previously had an almost absolute power of involvement over him. The progressive detachment from human psychic experiences no longer frightens it because, instead of fearing the emptiness of non-existence determined by the absence of emotions, feelings, thoughts, desires, and other mental states, all of an inevitably human nature, he feels – and sometimes even arrives to experiment – the existence of bundles of psychic tunings of different origins that, based on the evolution of its essence determined by the passing of time, prove to be pleasant, beautiful and more in harmony with its needs.
If the conscious Ego succeeds in feeling and following the call of the spirit, a connection can be opened through which the Ego gets help in facing life's difficulties, and in particular the human psychic tunings characterized by negative emotions, and can prepare to cross serenely the threshold of death. Otherwise a person will be forced to hold on to the illusions of life, always at the mercy of the psychic reactions that from time to time will involve him/her, until the end of what he/she will have to consider the end of his/her days.