How Are We to Make Use of these Psychodynamic Facts of Life



Living in two centuries, it is natural to long for the centuries of antiquity.  The 20th century with the folks still alive who remembered the later half of the 19th century is a nostalgia that coincides with being young and wide-eyed.  It was a world where happiness was 99% anticipation.  Too young for regrets, the world laid endlessly ahead like a blank canvas stretched clear to the horizon.

As Exit from Narcissism begins to take shape, I am allowing myself the freedom to say that I am writing a book.

The central theme of this manual involves the study of duality as it presents itself in the form of mental conflict.  It is important to keep in mind that mental-conflict bears little resemblance to neurosis or any other illness based model of the mind.

The brain/body matrix manifests the mind and that mind can not be reduced to a singularity. The human mind is experientially and subjectively a duality which is inherently in conflict.  Nothing reduces to one. Anything can be split in two.  The idea of oneness is both an illusion and a delusion.  It is an illusion because our perspective is a projection of our own perceived oneness.  We tend to look out onto the universe from the singular perspective of “I”.  It is a delusion because we want the comfort of oneness, and we are prone to accept reality only after we have washed it with the suds of our perspective.

Both the perspective of “I” and the perspective of our deeper awarenesses co-exist with little to no consciousness of each other.  The acknowledgement of duality is only experienced when the deeper nature is deliberately called up from consciousness by the ego we call, “I”.

We wander between and among perspectives against a backdrop.  Awareness of our duality is barely noticed.  A deliberate command can access the deeper perspective; however, long before we come to understand our nature of duality we have been subject to its massive potential for internal conflict.

Issues of morality and issues with authority plagued us long before we became conscious of our unconscious mind. Becoming conscious of the unconscious provides us with further information than we would have with consciousness alone.  The idea that all behavior is purposeful and guides our decisions our thoughts,and  feelings is a result of the academic study of duality.  Beginning with Freud and Jung as the fathers of psychology we have moved through over a century of deciphering meaning from word and symbols.

Whether our mind is a burning cauldron of creation or an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge, there is no denying the conflict that arises as a simple and crucial aspect of living.  All of our thoughts and sensations have a meaning.  This fact we have inherited through the scientific and literary history of civilizations.

How are we to make use of this psychodynamic fact of life?

The meaning of conflict and our growing academic understanding of conflict as a question begs for an answer.  It is equal in scope to what previous generations asked about the nature of pain in a world created by and all-good God. Conflict stands out from a backdrop of comfort and alerts us to an internal or external condition that requires our attention. Conflict can appear in the form of anxiety and is registered as a sensation or feeling that erupts into consciousness.  Because it does not necessarily rush into consciousness with words what we experience is a sense of urgency and to make it worst, it is an urgency that provides no direction.

Because it is experienced as an intrusion, it is in our human nature to want to destroy it.  It is the classic killing of the messenger.  What ever meaning was intended is lost in the battle that ensues between perspectives of the mind.  The unconscious knowledge is not wanted because it threatens to disturb the sleep of the world.  We ignore or deny  the knowledge of the deeper consciousness to protect the singularity of the ego.  The ego does not want to be wrong and does not want to be caught in a less than perfect light.  Since the ego is the position of the “I”, it carries a great deal of weight toward preventing knowledge from the body to impact the singularity of the self.

The resolution of conflict becomes what life is about.  Resolving questions that arise from conflict promotes success and effectiveness.  Recognizing the conflict within and applying resolution is the process of adult developmental psychology. Living is the perpetual resolution of conflict.  It is deliberate and is never over until life is over.

Our task is not simply to live it is to live well within the parameters created by needing to resolve all the aspects of organic life. It is through the resolution of perpetual conflict–(when we are through taking a breath, we need to automatically resolve taking the next breath), that this successful application becomes the source of joy and enthusiasm.

To access the depths that are within requires a conscious contact, a deliberate attempt to find the source of the body knowledge that holds the DNA of our antiquities.  It may seem a contradiction to invite in a perspective that may cause a conflict, but it is the resolution, not the denial of conflict that creates room for joy and contentment and happiness to thrive.

Living well is only difficult when we insist on our singularity. When we become comfortable with conflict as an aspect of the mind that will not go away, we can begin to understand the requirements necessary to govern ourselves. It is this understanding that psychoanalysis aims for.  Having arrived at concluding a peace with inner conflict we will have achieved a level of adult development that we call maturity.

The Bridge Home

the bridge home


When the holidays are upon us, the bridge home seems to be a more rickety bridge than usual.  Family life can encompass the best of days and the worst of days.  Remembering that what we fear in life is losing control of our selves, family can induce a loss of self and soul that has us wanting to scurry for the first rabbit hole that we find. It can also hold us in its embrace when the sorrow is too much to handle, and we are overwhelmed with grief.

Home for the holidays with Barbara Stanwyck  living in a perfect New England home, snow bound with a horse drawn sleigh at the front door to bring you into town for the last minute pound of butter or canned milk, was too pretty.  It creates in us a longing for something that does not really exist.  It always made me ask as a kid, “where do they go to the bathroom?”  You never saw in those idyllic movies where and of the “crap” happened.

christmas in connecticut

Life in 21st century America is a dollar driven life with things and events symbolizing an upward mobility and a sense of abundance that is not on the horizon for most Americans any more.  We have what we have, and we have to find a way to be content with that because the upward mobility american-dream-thing is a rapidly vanishing fantasy that is as equally unpalatable as Barbara’s dream in a 1950 Christmas in Connecticut movie.

Even our beloved states of longing seem to vanish with the advent of capitalism replacing democracy as not only the economic system of the american people, but as the form of government and the types of lives that are permitted under this new umbrella of global aristocracy. We have become income driven–not values driven.

As Americans we inherited a transcendental philosophy that was born out of the writings of Emerson, Alcott, and the 19th century Concord Literary Society that became know as the 1st revolutionaries in American Literature.  That period of American History became engrained in us, representing a value that was greater that what money could buy.  The early Transcendentalist saw the natural elements of life as the template to a free and loving society.  It used the natural to remind us of life and death.  It used humanity as the test center that attempted to illustrate that a society, a neighborhood was greater than the sum of its parts.

Communities and families died and suffered and lived and enjoyed life together.  The small town, dirt-road, trails always led to somewhere you wanted to be.  After all it was the the trotted road the got the wear.  Families are pretty much all that is left of this inter-dependent way of life; and families are hanging on by a thread as the holy dollar calls the older brother to Cleveland, and the younger sister to Huston and the parents had to retire to Florida as the Massachusetts economy became too expensive to purchase on a fixed-income.  So middle sister, who was fortunate enough to find a husband and a job in the home town, is now the only member of the family left in the home town.

Is it still home town when everyone you know has moved on or moved away?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is only food and companionship and love that make it happen.  It is not a commercial holiday.  Except for food, the stores have to be clamoring for your Christmas dollar there is no Thanksgiving gift.  And I am grateful for that fact.  Department stores and Big Box stores could starve to death on Thanksgiving and I would have one more things to be grateful for.

I want to make a wish today.  I want to wish that everyone who reads this essay will find a way to promote this message to everyone they know and meet.  I want this holiday to stay free of commercial broadcasting and that there will never be such a thing a thanksgiving music..  I want everyone to be as persistent as they can be to call families together for this once a year gratitude day.

I want the bridge home for Thanksgiving to be free and easy and spontaneous and not filled with expectations.  I want every one who wants to be home for the holiday to be able to get there.  I wish that this message get read by people who are just on the verge of wanting to get home to be spurred homeward by the sincerity and forgiveness that this holiday promotes.


Happy Gratitude Day, 2013

Charlestown, RI 02813

Are We Looking for God

Are We Looking for God

I want to write in my blog because the last few weeks have been so packed with enjoying life that i have forgotten to write anything. I am not sure what that means yet, but I wanted to get it on paper that from my vantage point, at this moment and with the age that I have arrived at, being content with two to three swims a day in a massively turbulent ocean has been as helpful as running the clothes through an old wringer washing machine. I feel cleansed and squeezed dry of all aspirations and have found myself content with meditation, mindfulness & good food.
Tumbling around in a warm ocean while sitting in a tropical depression is not the kind of depression that I am use to dealing with. The depression associated with climate seems predictable and even fun, while the depression that enters the mind like a starving termite enters a piece of wood is entirely too profound to be considered when sitting in the sun. That’s an essay for another day.

Just to make sure that I drive the point home to my readers, I am trying to make you envious. I am wanting you to feel jealous of this respite in the salted, sun drenched stretch of beach known to the Treasure Coast as Surfer Beach. In addition to every one being 19 or 27 and gorgeous, the beach is nearly deserted for miles. The sand is a soft white sand that warmly pushes up through your toes as you drift down toward the turbulent sea, and the glistening beads of water that give everything an emerald and sapphire coloring, erupt from everywhere.

I took Maddie for a walk and a swim this morning and she went her own way and i did not see her again for 40 minutes or so. Eventually she found her way back to me, smelling like a wet dog, covered in beach sand with her tongue hanging out saying–water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. We meandered back to the the house and she lapped at the water from the out door shower as I rinsed the encrusted sand from everywhere.

One last point in this short post. I want to emphasize that I deserve this contentment with life. First, I worked for it. But most important I not only worked at this, but I studied and researched this. I mean happiness does not come on a whim and it is not securely given like a plaque or a gold star. It is a success that must be cultivated all the time. This does not mean that the cultivation need to be hard dirty work, some might be, but for the most part, happiness comes from knowing how your mind operates and then putting into practice what needs to be done over and over again in order to achieve the richness and the crispness that gives life its colors. Mindfulness, the creating of an awareness that you are somewhere in there doing the experiencing is crucial to feeling a sense of well-being. I am much more than the sum total of my ego.

Mindfulness and well-being go hand in hand. And, weather you approach this from a psychoanalytic perspective, a Zen perspective or a spiritual perspective, each perspective leads to the same end. Enjoying the journey, remembering that the process is as important as the outcome, and above all recalling yourself time and time again to the knowledge of the sensation that is the moment–this is the way forward.

I re-read parts of zen bible while I was here enjoying life and what struck me most was that it was offering a formula and that it seemed to be saying follow this formula and you will be given the way. It sounds christian. Maybe it is. I mean I think that what ever it is that we find, at some level most of us want to call this God. It is difficult to say you believe in God while at the same time professing to be a scientist. But in the long run the two are not incompatible. The Great Spirit, The Universe, Consciousness, A Higher power, The Light Within–these all have in common that they are a substitute for the word God which had become so over used by religion than many of us had to abandon the word because it was just too confusing to reconcile a bearded man on a thrown with a staff in one hand and a globe in the other with what in the 21st century we have come to know as a source of energy. In a way happiness has more to do with physics than any other academic discipline.

The energy of a positive attitude, Norman Vincent Peale aside–is what we are looking for. We are looking for God. We want to find that place internally or externally that feeds us with a sense of peace and a sense of serenity and a believing and an allowing for the good in the world to flow through us. So, if we are in college, in school or in church or in a monastery; or if we are in a lab or an orphanage or a hospital, we are seeking comfort. God gives us that comfort even if how we understand this is that our internal awareness coaches us toward life giving, life affirming events. I can skip a great deal of angsts and simply say: Thank God, this has been a wonderful vacation.

‘Tis a gift to be simple. As I begin to pack and put myself back together to get myself back to the office and to what i do for a living, I do this mindful that I have been blessed with a very deliberate opportunity. My life’s work is searching. I search for myself and for those who i love. I search and help people to organize themselves in such a way that they they will come to understand exactly how their particular mind works. And in discovering they will begin a practice that will help them to discover the divine within, not just once but over and over agin many times a day. Reflection on the moment is the best defense against an ego hell bent on robbing us of joy. As i become mindful that the experience of now is the breath of life, I can let go of some of the aspirations that are overwhelming, and let myself flow gently down the stream of life, anticipating that my needs will be met if i am in touch with my instincts as well as with my ego.

It amounts to a belief that we can indeed trade in fear for joy and gratitude and that this is a fair trade for everyone involved.

Dr. A. L. Dussault,

Language: There is a way out & it will find me…

“…profound to me that the only two things that aren’t divisible are silence and God.

This comment was posted in respond to a recent essay.  I simply love the idea that our ideas, as cooperative ventures, can always be improved upon.  At least I seem to find that to be true of anything that I do with language.  I suspect I would feel very different if some one were to arbitrarily pick up a paint brush and begin to swat at my paintings with colors and line of their choosing.

Have you ever had the experience of sitting with someone over dinner and suddenly you are moved to a feeling of dread as you watch that person, slowly and deliberately, reach across the table with their folk pointed at your place. In horror you watch as the folk descends right for that luscious  hunk of  roasted zucchini in the corner of your plate.  That is what it would feel like to me if someone pointed a paint brush at one of my paintings.

But with language when someone adds something to what i have said it feels like I have been increased, my thought has been expanded and like the ever expanding universe, i believe that my thoughts take on a life of her own, and I love to see them become their own thing in the literary universe….

Language has to be one of the most beautiful and versatile gifts from the universe to the human condition.  Language holds all of our dreams, it speaks to us of love, it renders itself as a message from our own body and it registers itself in our minds. Language is a human competence that is born into us as is our ability.  It is an organ of the human body that works as a system of symbols.  It is the connecting tissue of the human race.  Nearly all that we do for ourselves and for each other is constructed with language, or in the very least is reported in language.

The ego goes through many seasons of reason, and some reasons we do not understand–it is profoundly true that the heart has its reasons that the reason can not know.  But as we clamor for conscious understanding, we do so with the cognitive capacity of language.  In our spiritual understandings we say that, “god has spoken to me,” or “god speaks to man in mysterious ways.”

We speak of our computers having a language, we watch as people talk to each other on a stage, creating word by word a stage production that is essentially a new grouping of words that build the events of a person’s life into sound and fury. Stephanie Brown, just days after having spent six days on the roof of her house in New Orleans during the Great Flood, sings the words, “here’s to life,” an anthem of poetic justice and poetic beauty..

In the beginning there was THE WORD.  The majuscules giving the written word their authority in the realm of truth.  T.S. Eliot, “in the room, women come and go, speaking of  Michaelangelo.”  Robinson Jeffers criers out against, “man’s inhumanity to man.”  A pope gives a dictum and millions of souls are condemned to the fires of hell for eating meat on Friday.  A supreme court justice hands down a majority argument that gives a corporation all of the rights that a person has, turning a democracy of the  people by the people &  for the people into business proposition where he who owns the most toys wins the controlling shares.

Language for good or for bad is the vehicle that we have to bring our specie to a heightened consciousness.  What we do with that consciousness supports life or promotes death.  It is that big a deal that we have linguistic capacity, that born into the organism condition of the egoic mind that not only allows for communication, but in fact demands and promotes it in the very fiber of our D N A.

Language and images seem to dominate my creative life.  I feel blessed by the voices that I hear that provide the chatter for these blogs and I am grateful to pen & inking and watercolors that allow me to concentrate, indeed, meditate on a singular aspect of my world.  As I focus, as I intentionally eliminate much stimuli and demand of myself to be with one small aspect of the world, I can identify with that wonderful Little Prince given to us by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  He is excited to revisit “his” little rose, because it is not that there are billions of roses in the universe, the importance to him is that one of them he has a special relationship to.

I am grateful to my special relationship with language.  I am honored that the universe has chosen me to give dictation to at this time in my life.  As I ponder the gifts that have come my way, I realize that I have so many wisdom-givers to give thanks to. I am grateful that I have found the value of gratitude & that that too is a sensation that readily transforms itself through language.

Finally, I want to say just one last thing in this essay about language.  Language provides a way out of the maze that chaos often spins us into.  I find there to be a substantial difference between the language that I hear as the perpetual voice that runs in the back of my mind and the language that emerges out of the stillness that is discovered just outside the purview of the ego.

Exactly what that difference is is still a mystery to me.  I am perplexed because in characteristics like sound and cadence and word order, it is clearly the same english speaking language.  The difference lies in the fact that nothing ever spoken to me out of the stillness ever employs a sense of urgency.  Perhaps the answer to the question, “does my mindfulness use the same language as does my ego,”  might lie in the simplicity that emerges when urgency is not present.  But, I am not finished with that question & I see that its cause might be taken up under the larger question about the distinction between the entire mind field and its differences from the egoic mind.

Thanks, again & more to come.  Please feel free to add comments or even a separate thread in the comment section, it often jolts a dialogue…..

ich-besetzung (ego cathexis)

I got a call from a dear friend this morning.  She was upset, and spoke about a lonely Thanksgiving as her kids were not around to share the holiday with her. I felt her concern and I understood what it is like to feel that desperate sense of lack that accompanies the missing of something that we want so very badly to happen in our lives.

I was fortunate this year to have the full compliment of my family with me for the holiday.  That fact alone, however, does not eliminate the feeling of lack.  As I awoke this morning and the deep grey New England rain was covering everything in a blanket of damp, cold and colorless images, I was aware that I had grown a new dependency in my life.  Like all the other dependencies that I have had to cope with, this one felt warm and seemed to be providing my needs nicely.  But, I was also aware that like all other dependencies in the past, it too had the possibility of de compensating  into a vast sea of emptiness, characterized by fear, worry and a generalized feeling of low-level depression.

I hate that phrase, “low-level depression.”  It makes it seem like a perpetual fever that just will not quit. Like when the fever is not high enough to keep me in bed, but low enough so that I have to work feeling miserable…We have all been there, so I am pretty sure this description will not feel new.   Be that as it may, returning to the new dependency–I have grown throughly dependent on a circle of friends.  I find myself double thinking everything I am wanting and even much of how I am thinking and that doubt seems permanently lodged and the only thing that resolves it is a nod of approval from this circle of friends. two-thirds of the way through my life and suddenly I can’t tie my shoe without wondering if there is a more spiritually fit way to do this.

Having trained as a psychoanalyst has had it disadvantages, the least of which is not that i was educated to feel that i needed to depend on my healthy, well analyzed ego for the right and the next right answer to everything.  Well, that wonderful little formula breaks down at exactly the time in life when one is in crisis.  This wonderfully analyzed ego is worth shit when a situation comes along that requires the self to regress in service of the ego.  “In service of the ego,” what in god’s name is that.  Just when you need it most, the ego decides to return in time to an infantile stage of development. And, suddenly, you can no longer tie your shoe without a consultation that runs roughly one-hundred and fifty bucks an hour. Or, as I have been discovering recently, I need to be reminded by someone who is Not-Me that as recent as yesterday i had figured out a way to live that was very much in concert with nature, the universe, and my dog.

So, why do I need to be reminded?  From what i have been able to tell thus-far, I need to be reminded because when a circumstance happens that momentarily blocks my view of the sun, I can not remember where the light was coming from. If you were to step down, using a long ladder, and you were to descend into a deep well; the further down you went the smaller the circle of light at the top would become, until it was a pin-hole of light followed by utter and total darkness.  The dark light of the soul is despair.  That mood of discouraging conditions that is characterized by having no hope.  The darkness of hopelessness is despair.

Even the smallest pin-hole of light prevents despair, but once you pass that point in the down ward move just beyond where all light fails, you can not see your way out of emotional, mental, nor spiritual darkness.

The reason that I need my spiritually fit friends is because they are not in the pit or the well, with me at the same time.  So, they can still see the light even though, it is failing to reveal itself to me.  I think what I am discovering is that in the process of becoming spiritually fit the most important dimension is to surround ourselves with other people making the same spiritual journey.  They will hold our hands and they will think for us at moments when we have forgotten that we knew the way out.  While my ego is regressing for some reason that it finds very important, my friends who are accompanying me on this journey through inter-being will guide me up the ladder until, I can once again see the light.

My newest dependency is to my dear circle of people willing to guide me when I lose sight, and in exchange, i am willing to guide them when they lose sight.  We are forming a village, a community with a common mission.  Finally, were I to discover in the future that this dependency on my circle was becoming an addiction, well, all that I would really need to do would be to find a new twelve step program, perhaps, Triple AAA, Addiction to Addictions Anonymous.

reflections on Tolle & Freud: a basic review

Despite a multitude of efforts on my part, my day to day sanity remains fragile.  I wake up in the morning needing to ask myself what it was that just last night seemed to make so much sense.  I rub my eyes with my fist and slowly the glimpse returns: What is my relationship to the current moment?  What is my relationship to Life?

If I were to ask about how I felt about what was happening in the current moment, I might feel very different.  After all anything can be happening in the moment and we have so little to do about that particular destiny.  I am tired, I don’t want to get up, I don’t feel like going to work, I don’t want to get out of bed?  I feel miserable.  I can’t wait until I do not have to do this crap anymore.  Tomorrow the moment will be better and tomorrow I will be able to have a better relationship with Life .

But the question, “What is my relationship to the current moment?”  Well, that bring about another aspect of consciousness.  My relationship to what is happening at any given moment is different than the content of the moment.  What is my relationship to the idea that I am tired, what is my relationship to the idea in my mind that I do not feel like getting out of bed?  These questions remove the immediacy of the response or the immediacy of my reaction to what is happening in the moment.  This slight variation in perception allows me to have distance from my reactivity which in turn allows me to experience the moment instead of experiencing what i am thinking of the moment.

Eckhart Tolle tells us that we ought to be experiencing the moment rather than identifying with the thought that we are having about the moment.  I am on my third re reading of his New Earth and it remains difficult for me to experience the Now as emphatically as he would have us do.  In truth, I find the intellectual or the mental activity of locating the now to be relatively easy; but it is attempting to remain in the location of the Now, the present moment, that I find hard to accomplish. I think that I have arrived at a place in meditation or in contemplation that allows me to experience the moment, but the stringing of the moments together is elusive.  Nonetheless, the portal that the moment gives us remains the most profound way that I know of experiencing the consciousness of life..

Consciousness as opposed to egoic consciousness is a more stable way of extinguishing an inflamed ego.  Egoic consciousness is concerned exclusively with time and as such the feeling of fullness or the experience of enough is not available.  Feeding the ego as a way of emerging from narcissism just does not work.  The idea that we are aiming for an egoic sense of adequacy or self esteem within the ego has always left me embracing concepts such a grandiosity, arrogance and even greed.  It is as if I was chasing after a healthy ego as a way to unseat a dysfunctional ego, but even a healthy ego only gave me a bigger more inflated sense of egoic self when what I was needing was to emerge from the ego and stand in the wider field of consciousness and observe my ego.

It is only through emerging from the ego that we can establish for ourselves a sense or inter-being.  By that I mean a feeling of belonging to a universal consciousness that is interwoven with threads from the natural world.  We can experience a feeling of connectedness with atoms and molecules that were once part of a sun or particle in some cosmic explosion.

Self-importance diminishes in the face of belonging to a universal cosmic event that is really not governed by “clock” time.

And, when self-importance no longer becomes important to us, we are able to focus on the elements of compassion and empathy that give us a feeling of being united in our suffering and engaged with each other in joy.

The idea of ego binds us to a mental construct of ourself as solitary in the world.  The history of the study of the ego began formally as a science with Freud over a hundred years ago.  His contribution to the understanding of the human condition is probably second to none in the western world.  Yet, there probably has not been many men who have been as misunderstood as he has been.

If we were to compare Freud’s idea of the ego with Tolle’s idea of the ego we would find, I think,  similarity in understanding the function of this mental apparatus.  Freud would go on to devoting 23 volumes of brilliant observations discussing the intricacies of this invisible organ.  Tolle will simply acknowledge that it is there to be observed and proceeds immediately to discuss methods for helping us to disentangle ourselves from the grip that it has on us through the narration that it produces.

The value that the ego has to an individual organism and the value that it has had on the evolution of our specie is nearly incalculable.  At the same time it has produced a situation in which the more primitive instincts have been regulated to a corner of consciousness that finding our instincts requires setting aside the very ego that has produced all the knowledge that man has acquired about himself and the environment.

Science and knowledge belong to the realm of the ego.  Art and spirituality exist as products of our instincts and as such may not pass through the realm of the ego.  It is not that they can not work together.  Indeed, I think that we work best in all circumstances when a fusion of the right brain and the left brain work in tandem.  It is just that in order to contact or make know our instincts we must exit the ego. An instinct is a phenomena of consciousness that implies depth while the thought processes of the ego seem to require breadth.  We speak of the breadth of ones knowledge and the depth of ones instincts or wisdom.  Although these are only metaphors for the types of consciousness, I think they imply or at least point to the fact that these two values of human existence are not discovered in the same way.


_1010156I am not the content of my consciousness, I am not the thoughts and emotions that arise in my consciousness, I Am the
consciousness–itself.  I Am the aliveness of the consciousness.  I am able to look at the thoughts and the emotions that arise in
consciousness.  That part of me that can look at my thoughts is my aliveness looking at my ego’s content.  I am not that content.  I am the larger entity in which the ego emerges.  I call that larger entity the self as a way of differentiating it from the ego.
The Self is a greater consciousness than the  activities of the ego.  Moreover,  much to our delight, the ego can be witnessed by the Self, by the greater consciousness.  It is in this witnessing of the ego by the Self that we become aware to the concept of the duality in the human psyche.  If I can say with some conviction, “I am so mad at myself,”  I am witnessing that there is an “I” observing the “Self,”  an “I” which is mad at a separate object which is the Self.

I AM alive and present in this moment.

I AM the persistent awakening,  that comes from an abandonment of  identification with  thoughts and with  opinions and with  feelings.  I have to abandon identifying with the content of the ego in order to experience My self.

We are not talking about a denial of affect, but rather,  about a keen awareness of thought & feeling,  followed by a Consciousness that although these sensations arise in me, these sensations are not me.  They are not me any more than the obsessive ramblings of a narcissistic mind is me.  A deceptively simple but definitive advance in analytic thinking came about when the concept of the Self as separated from the ego was born.  The ego and its location in the psychic apparatus along with the id and the super-ego constitute the location or the psychic place in which the identity is created and maintained.  Thought & feeling emanate from here.  But Consciousness is greater than what arises in it.  I Am the consciousness in which the ego arises.

This duality of identity within the mind of the human being is either the source of great joy or the source of tremendous consternation and conflict.   Because as long as we are not aware of this duality, the ego has nearly total control of our thoughts, our actions and more importantly maintains a  deep and complete identification with these thoughts and feelings as if these are the totality of us.  In this condition the human mind remains “contained” in the ego and this containment is the source of great narcissistic injuries as the individual passes through life thinking that he or she is the sum total of his or her thoughts.  The danger in this narrow vision is that we begin to protect our thoughts as is they were us and in so doing we enter into conflict not only with Others, but we remain conflicted with the greater potential that remains untapped, unknown, undiscovered.  In other words, the Self is hidden or more accurately disconnected from the ego and it exerts no influence in our lives.  We conduct ourselves “as-if” we are our egos.  As such, we wander through life with this life size cardboard cut-out of ourselves in front of us and leading at all times.  Our ego becomes a persona of us and the Self and its magnificent connection with all sentient life is missed.

The very witnessing of this duality is the opening in the wall, the crack in the narcissistic shell, the glimpse that allows us to eventually experience the eternal, cosmic stillness, the ethos from which The Creator manifests through you.