Mastering the Ego
Audience: It seems to correspond somewhat to fear or to some force that you have a weakness with and Hercules choking it is like the law of attrition where the lion cannot get air anymore and it is now deflated.
Audience: Is the lion the personality?
JJ: Very close, what part of the personality in particular do you think?
Audience: The pride?
JJ: Right, it is the ego, the personality and the faults and imperfections that go along with it. Why was everybody so terrified of the lion?
Audience: Have you ever tried to reckon with someone else’s ego?
JJ: (Laughing) Right, and especially our own. Remember all this is an extension of Hercules so looking at it this way, as disciples, are we afraid of our egos and our own lower personalities? Are we afraid of confronting that within our selves?
Audience: I think we are afraid to let it go – we are so wrapped up and invested in that being who we really are.
JJ: Right we do not want to slay it do we? We do not want to slay it because we identify with the lower self. We think that is who we really are but the truth is that we are really sons of God. We are really not that lion and we have to slay the personality so that what we really are can shine forth. We are really sons of God rather than just animal man.
Remember one of the symbolisms behind all the animals is the lower nature which is the animal self that has to be either mastered or slain. The animal self has to be mastered or slain in all of us. So it is interesting that this ego scared everybody. Externally if a person with a big ego comes in the room – have you ever noticed that nobody challenges the guy? They almost seem afraid if him especially if he is an authority figure of some kind. Have you ever been in a class where a distinguished professor is lecturing and nobody dares challenge him? Nobody dare asks him, “what makes you think you are right on this issue,” or point or whatever. Or a religious authority is visiting or something and no one asks “what makes you think that you are right?” Nobody dares to challenge the guy.
Audience: He is intimidating.
Yes he is very intimidating. Have you ever been around someone very intimidating and you felt like you did not dare ask him a question? Especially when I was younger I encountered a number of people like that and as I get older and wiser I am more prepared to confront the lion of the ego in myself, and others. When you think back to when you were younger in school, college it is amazing how easily people of renown and respect may have intimidated you.
So the lion represents the ego. Say you are having a party and when a dominant personality enters the room. People get the impression he speaks with authority and he speaks with a lot of ego presence. Everybody just listens and if people disagree with him they will say nothing. I have been in situations where nobody was speaking up and I thought, boy does everybody in this room think exactly the same way that this guy is talking? And so I challenge the guy and have an argument with him and later people will come up to me later and say, you know I really agreed with you and disagreed with him all the time and I am really glad that you spoke up and challenged the guy. It turns out that few really did agree with him but nobody challenged him because he was the like the lion that everybody was afraid to challenge.
Audience: Dan: Sometimes there is just doesn’t seem like there is any point though.
JJ: Yes, sometimes there is not any point and I do not do that all the time because it may be seen as rude or not do any good, but I do it when I feel that the guy has a powerful ego and he needs a little humility. I am on the mental plane like Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the physical plane and if the guy deserves it then I am going to let him have it. But if he is just rambling on and not making any point then fine but when I feel that these people are following him like sheep and the guy deserves to be questioned because he has such a powerful ego, then I am going to ask him a couple of little questions that is going to upset his little applecart.
When you do this, these guys usually get very upset and insinuate, “who do you think you are questioning me?” They are like the Nemean Lion in this labor of Hercules. Like I say though, it mostly applies to us because all of us have the ego to be conquered and mastered again and again.
We are told that we not only meet the lion in this labor but we meet the lion again and again as we go throughout our discipleship. It is not just slain once and then put away for good. We slay it and then it is dormant for a while and then in another lifetime it will wind up surfacing again. So all of us have to deal with it over a period of cycles until the ego is completely mastered.
Now what did it mean when Hercules wore the skin of the lion?
Audience: Well you still have to have a personality.
JJ: Right but he discarded the old skin and put on a new skin, what does this mean?
Audience: As you change you discard the old personality and put on a new one?
JJ: Often in different types of initiations in groups like the Masons you are given a new name and in the scriptures Abraham was given a new name, Jacob was given a new name. It was changed from Jacob to Israel.
Audience: Star Wars.
JJ: Star Wars?
Audience: Yea, you know where the dark lord sith says to Anakin Skywalker “I shall call you Darth Vader”
JJ: Yes the dark side copies the light.
Audience: You have seen too many movies!
Audience: Yes, I certainly have!
JJ: When Hercules was young he had become an aspirant and this caused him to change his personality and to put on a new skin right there. But then when he eventually had strong soul contact he shed his old personality and put on a new one. One of the things the Tibetan says about the personality is the disciple manufactures his own personality after he advances so far.
In other words, he decides what his personality is going to be. And so his personality then becomes developed again to become a useful tool for service, where his old skin was no longer useful and he felt he had no control over it. But the new skin he puts on shows us that he still has a personality that he likes and is useful in the service of mankind. He no longer says, “I am what I am and there is nothing I can do about it.” Have you ever tried to point out a needed change in a person and they say, “Well, that is just the way that I am, that is me.”
I will tell one more story then we will continue. When was on a mission for the Mormon Church every companion I was assigned to had at least one irritating thing about them. On a mission you change people you worked with about every 3 months and I got this new guy and I really liked him and I thought this was somebody that I liked completely except he had one little fault. He sang all day long. He sang Rogers & Hammerstein and at that time I did not like them very well for I liked rock & roll. He would sing this stuff all day long and we would be walking along and he would be singing, “Some Enchanted Evening” (JJ singing the line)
Audience: Roaring with laughter!
JJ: Now I was a little bit intimidated by the Nemean Lion in this guy and I did not say anything for about six weeks and finally I could not handle it anymore for it was just about to drive me crazy. Finally, I said, elder, you are a good singer of classical songs (putting it to him as gently as I could) but your singing is driving me crazy! Could you please not sing so much? And he told me – he said, “That is just who I am, sorry.” Then he began to sing again, “some enchanted evening.” (JJ singing the line again)
Audience: Roaring with laughter!
JJ: I felt like hitting the guy and knocking him out and boy was I ever happy to get transferred away from him! Laughing!
When Hercules finally went to slay the lion he had to chase it around and this is what we have to do with the ego. We have to pursue it because the ego is very elusive and it makes a lot of noise but once it finds out that you are going to master it and destroy its power over you, you find out that all that power was just noise and it is really afraid of you.
So you have to go after the lower self because the lower self wants to remain in control. You know if you pay attention to your lower nature it is almost like it is a separate entity. For instance, have you ever noticed that if you get angry you feel those stirrings inside of you and if you silence yourself down for a moment and let those emotions continue to rumble you will notice that it is like there are little lives inside of you with a life of their own.
There are little deva and elemental lives that are giving the anger that energy and this is an interesting thing to contemplate that when you feel these emotions they really have a life of their own. We are a composite life of many other smaller lives.
The easiest life to feel is the anger and even afterwards it lingers for a period of time, even if you get yourself in the soul. If you separate yourself and be the observer then you can see that your emotions are really not you but they are a vehicle composed of smaller lives, yet very potent. When these lower lives see that you are after them as a whole to master them and dominate them then instead of them coming after you, you must go after them for they become afraid of you.
The lower parts of our selves do not want to be dominated and they will resist domination completely and change shape or do whatever is necessary. Finally the lion goes and enters into a cave and what does this cave mean? A cave is normally symbolic of consciousness and whenever you have a dream and you dream of going into a room or a cave or anything like this it is a symbol of you entering into a conscious state which is hidden from your normal vision. In other words if you dream of entering a basement it is a symbol of lower consciousness. If you are going up stairs then you are going to a higher state of consciousness but there is usually something in these rooms that is hidden from your normal state of consciousness. So if you ever dream about going into rooms or a cave pay attention to what is going there because there will be clues there to what your subconscious mind is trying to give you that you are not catching onto in your physical life.
So the ego goes into this cave and Hercules goes after it in the depths of his own consciousness to try and find the ego but he cannot find it and the ego has disappeared. So the disciple searches for the ego to master and when he goes inside of himself he concludes that maybe my ego is not here after all and maybe I am okay and everybody is okay.
Then he finds the lion roaming around outside again terrorizing the neighborhood and he finds that he does have an ego to master after all. So what he finally does is to seal an exit. He recognizes that the ego is in his consciousness and the lower self has to be dominated and he is going to find it this time and is not going to allow an exit.
He goes into his own consciousness and examines himself and comes face to face with the problems created by his own lower personality. He finally realizes and comes face to face with the fact that his lower personality is creating a lot of problems for himself, his friends, his family, his community and it terrorizes and creates difficulties and problems.
Have you ever noticed that people often want to avoid someone with a very powerful personality? People think that the guy with a strong personality is well-liked but the truth is that few really want to be around him because of a powerful personality. They may want to be around him in maybe a professional relationship that serves their need but in the private intimate relationship the lion has few true friends for himself until he dominates the personality because people are agitated, irritated or scared of the powerful ego.
So the disciple comes face to face with that in himself. You will notice that many people that do become teachers have powerful personalities and many of them are hard to bear in normal or intimate circumstances. I hope I am not too hard for you people bear for I have been accused many times of having a powerful ego myself and I am sure every teacher has, but eventually everybody must come face to face with that ego and not allow it to exit and dominate it and slay it. Then one must take its skin and make clothes for the outer personality in a way that is intelligible and usable for the disciple.
You will notice that when Hercules goes into town wearing the lion’s skin that the lion’s skin is now a usable thing and does not scare anybody because that old life that was in it does not exist anymore. The new life of the soul which is now Hercules is now covered by the skin so when the soul is covered by the personality and within the personality is the dominate soul of Hercules then the people rejoice and are happy to have the skin of the lion there where before they were afraid or they did not like the lion in their community.
Audience: Could this labor correspond to the dweller on the threshold or not?
JJ: It could. Several of the labors in here could correspond to the dweller for the ego could be part of the dweller experience. I would not say it is directly related to the dweller because the ego does not attack us, it feeds us whereas when we go after the dweller it will attack us head with in a full frontal assault. It is a little bit similar but the personality itself is not the dweller. If I remember correctly one of these other labors, maybe involving the hydra, could more correspond to that dweller.
Copyright by J J Dewey
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