To Have Your Cake and Eat it Too (Part 1)

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There are three registers of consciousness that have been understood throughout the history of religion: the Atman (or Spirit), the soul, and the ego. The Atman is the purest level of consciousness, but as the entropic process of Maya takes effect, consciousness becomes diffuse and eventually more and more fragmented—as we see epitomized in the postmodern ego. “I use the analogy sometimes of a cake,” explains Shunyamurti, the founder of the Sat Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. “And the Atman is an uncut cake, whereas the soul is a cake that’s still whole, but it’s been cut into slices, but it’s all there. And then when you get to the ego level, there’s only one slice left, and it’s your slice, and you're gonna hold on to it. . . . And then life becomes a war rather than a whole, as the cake was originally, in which we are not only able to enjoy it—we can have our cake and eat it—but because we are the cake.” This example can be compared to the Christian forms of love: agape, philia, and eros.

But now the forces of eros, or desire, rule the world, and the ego is in its most fragmented and demonic state. And the world’s religions have not specialized in dealing with this aspect of ego-consciousness. And this fragmentation, this decadence, has been best documented in the writers of the modern era, who have noted this uncertainty that is inherent in all egos. “And the only way out is in. And so although we say that, yes, in meditation you reach bliss, but you have to go through the sadness first, of letting the ego die. And that’s what is unbearable to most people.” But, as Shunyamurti reminds us, it is still better to kill off the ego in this bardo state rather than to have it ripped to shreds by the wrathful deities at the time of death.

And the internal demons that we project onto the world “can only be defeated through meditation. They can only be defeated by being willing to abide in the Self and draw in all of those fragments into the center, into the core, and fuse them back into the oneness that they are.” And by abiding in the Self, “you will realize that the bliss that you were seeking out in the world is coming through your very consciousness, and flowing through the very pores of your body into the world, and that the whole world is also a divine dwelling place of God’s Love and Presence. And that’s the only way that we can transform the world.” Recorded on the evening of Thursday, November 11, 2010.

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