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The Natural Decline of Ego in Aging

The ego - the "I" of the personality - is the part that wants to control and direct the show, make things turn out it own way, and be prized as special and love-worthy. It also takes responsibility for our survival and has a terrific fear of failure and death that actually supported our evolution as a species. The downside of a strong ego is that it ends up controlling too much, preventing the unconscious divine Self, with its profound transformational energies and potentials, from breaking into consciousness.

But along comes aging to undermine the power and control of the ego. The body's decline of energy reduces the ego's strength - the "I" complex just isn't as strong as it once was nor does it feel like performing all the time. Furthermore, the body's aged appearance defeats our narcissistic self-worship and place in society. Gradually the ego senses the need to let go of control so something new can happen, though we have so little understanding of this process in western culture. What we need to understand is this: as we age, the ego is now meant to serve the emerging Self, another name for the incarnating divine. We are meant to bring the energies and consciousness of divinity into the world in our maturity. Too often, however, the ego refuses to release its identity, control and self-importance, the personality rigidifies, and we abort this profound inflow of divinity.

Then, like an unwelcome visitor, the personal realization of death arrives, which starts undermining the ego from midlife on. With increasing though highly ambivalent awareness, we sense its presence and power; we know it's going to happen to us, coming nearer every year. In this way, death represents the ultimate defeat of the ego. But curiously, as the ego moves aside to serve the Self, our fear of death subsides. We discover that suffering arises when the ego resists the divine Self's incarnation attempts, that the Self is in fact timeless and eternal, and that dissolving the ego into the Self feels incredibly wonderful and right.

The realization of death gradually immerses the ego in the fullness of the inflowing divine life that increasingly permeates consciousness and being. This is the secret of maturity. In this way, aging and death activate a huge change in the personality, displacing ego, opening to the presence of divinity, and stirring the energies of enlightenment. We become like a Chinese lantern - divinely lit from the inside - and offer humanity a new kind of human being.

Now ego and Self form a new alliance. Ego learns to trust the Self, to be transformed by its energies of love, unity, creativity, play and joy. It grows in wisdom and at the same time becomes more childlike and spontaneous in nature. It also becomes more androgynous - reconciling the opposites of gender to merge into a greater unity of being. Recognizing that all boundaries are illusions, we serve the Self of the world now and immerse ourselves in the full unity of Being. So it is that aging represents the most profound stage of psychological and spiritual growth - don't miss it!

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