The Ego and The Eternal:
Ruminations on Cosmic Cooperation
An Article
Don Mihaloew, EdD, LMFT

Don Mihaloew, EdD, LMFT, CFLE

published in AHP's Perspectives Magazine Jan 2009 Issue

“God is as incapable of creating the perishable as ego is of making the eternal.”
-----A Course In Miracles; Chapter Four

“Knowledge is the specific nature of the psyche.”
-----C.G.Jung, Corpus Hermeticum X, 9

“For one thing is needful: that a human being attains his satisfaction with himself.....only then is a human being tolerable to behold. Whoever is dissatisfied with himself is always ready to revenge himself and we others will be his victims.”
----Friedrich Nietzsche; The Gay Science



Whereas spirit, cosmos, and all other numinal concepts for deities enjoy an almost universal acceptance, even reverence, ego does not, even though both are equally and widely manifested in our human minds. Little time is given to the understanding of the concept of the ego outside of the formal study of ego psychology. It is usually passed off as a negative entity, as in the notion of egocentricity. The focus of this article is on examining the ego and the relationship between it and the numinal cosmos and to establish a new paradigm positing ego is an ontologically necessary step towards the evolution of the human being in the process of “completion”/“individuation”, the Jungian words for enlightenment. It is further asserted that an interweaving of these two concepts  produces no organic conflict in contrast to most moral, axiological, and/or religious dualisms.


Focusing Questions:

How did ego manifest in the world? What is its job or function? What would humans’ lives be like without it? And how is it all possibly an illusion as many eastern philosophies assert? And if so, what is it that asks the question of its own experience?  Why is there conflict and evil when, in the West, we define our creator as wholly good and positive? And how can something that is supposed to be the highest level of intelligence on Earth be as constantly narrow, repressed, inflated, and unruly as humans certainly exhibit being?

These are the questions that led me to wrestle with this enormous topic. I think of little that is as important for us as therapists and non-therapists alike to grapple with and come to an understanding of the relationship between the earthly, pluralistic and the universal, mystical. Until recently, the discussion of any spiritual or numinal processes in the human being was considered, by mainline psychology, to be wholly unsubstantiated and therefore irrelevant. But we have seen in our life times a growing emergence and acceptance of this topic in  professional psychological literature. Scott Peck has declared that if you go all the way into psychology, you will emerge into spirituality.  This is my personal experience and the reason for this article. Since both ends of this spectrum exist, all of us are contained somewhere in this dynamic crucible. The more we know about it, the more evolved or differentiated we can become.

The Problem and The Issue:

Since our western culture is based on a Judaic-Christian world-view, the quotation from A Course In Miracles, calls into question two distinct and massive cultural icons. The first is that what we call the deity may not be as omnipotent as we mortals tend to think we must believe. To imagine that an external Creator can have any limitations at all runs counter to this hierarchal model depicting a supreme being that is nothing like us. The second icon that goes down in this plucky  statement is that the ego, so bent on superiority and dominance, emerges as quite limited and is shocked  at being so. Ego, therefore,  gets a bad reputation from lay and professional alike by how it handles this indignity. The ego always seems to get miffed as it strives for survival and prominence and never quite making it. And in a three-level cosmos, the ego leads us to believe that it, itself, is the deity. So, it seems we have a limited deity that cannot make anything inferior and an individual selfhood that is appalled at not being superior.        

Function of the Ego In Relation To Consciousness:

In Jungian terms, the ego is the seat of consciousness and is made of the same basic fabric as all consciousness. Hence, the notion of the “Imago Dei”can make sense. But the individual ego is actually only a small fraction of all the available consciousness in the whole Self, just as the waves of the ocean are also made up of the same water but each wave is not the whole ocean. The main reason ego gets a bad reputation is because it has a tendency for hubris, that is, of inflating itself beyond the scope of its basic function, that of individual awareness in a basically “I-It” physically dualistic world. In Greek mythology, hubris, was described as “rivaling the gods” for which the individual always paid a price in karma-like fashion, not as punishment but as a reality lesson. It seems exquisitely clear that no individual human being could ever come up with what the Cosmos has created for itself much less even understand it all, but that does not stop ego from feeling it must ascend in order to be safe. Ego is quintessentially all about fear-based safety seeking and justifiably so, since all of us, on any planet, experience what Adler called “cosmic inferiority”.

It seems that the ego itself is the last to know that it was not made for the eternal task of transcendence and creation in the first place. Being thus abashed, we need to stop and see our egos as possessing a different, and quite necessary,  set of functions than our egos can understand at the outset. This is one entry place for effective therapy. As troublesome as egos are, they seem to belong. And if they belong, maybe we need to understand and therefore “design” their scope of practice so that they don’t bound out, over, and into what they cannot do because the were not so destined. But what are they for? Maybe if we could discover why they are so prevalent and so prominent, we could also discover why they are so necessary. It is obvious that egos proliferate, or, at least the illusion of ego. And so it behooves those of us in leadership capacities, whether as  therapists, healers, parents, grandparents, teachers etc. to have a sturdy, workable concept of ego so that we do not douse it and rob our children and clients of such an obvious and  valuable resource. But playing creator, which ego typically thinks it is,  is not one of the reasons we have or are one!

Maybe we should start by asking the question what human life would be like if there were no such thing as what we identify as ego. The Genesis account of creation would have us think that we would be better off without such consciousness, remaining totally innocent and devoid of existential and ethical discretion. Anthropology suggests that this is the way our earliest, animistic progenitors lived. Jung, borrowing from anthropologist Levy-Bruhl, referred to them as “participation mystics”. This is when there is no apparent difference between self and other and where meaning has not yet been questioned, as in newborn infants’ experience. Self, as ego self, comes into being when such discretion is called for and always with safety as its backdrop. As soon as the “I-It” perception comes into view, the developing person comes out of Eden and  faces this new and troubling reality in such a way as to maintain a sense of belonging and, therefore, security.  This is always done at the expense of the fundamentally true self and brings on the development of a pseudo-self, otherwise known as personality.  Discovering just how clients have come to hold the beliefs they do is an extremely important part of the therapeutic process. It is their story and it is our grist for ongoing sessions. Ego, then, seems to be the “sine qua non” of human experience. Whether we call it personality, typology, identity, or common sense, we all have a kind of self-consciousness that separates us from all others. We all know that we are not someone else and therefore” I must be myself”! Yet, this is also where the problem lies, i.e. the thinking that we are separate from each other and from Creation itself and yet, ironically always seeking intimate relationships to compensate. In transpersonal thinking, this separation is absurd. But through an existential lens, which is where the young ego starts out, nothing could be truer. No discretionary center means no self. No self is a major threat to the personal consciousness and is always met with, at least, a defensive tack, if not a full blown attack. It is in this sense that ego may just be the same as memory! New brain research shows the brain to be a conservative organ not expending more energy than it needs to. It registers that what happened before is what is happening now even though that “now” is past. The mind is slow to update and defaults to past protocol. We are prone to Daniel Goleman’s “amygdala hijacking” and are certain of the need for ego defenses to rise to the threat. It’s all about fear of loss.

For those of us with a slight or markedly Eastern philosophic bent, talk of ego is either unnecessary, since the self is seen as all illusion, or reprehensible to consider something so troublesome as being necessary and trustworthy. But let us look through the eyes of therapists and teachers, people who rely upon the capacities of their client recipients for the forward motion of growth to occur. I find that the hardest process I face in my forty-some years of private practice working with change and growth is the overly defended client. There isn’t enough of something to have the person present as confident, whole, solid, courageous, flexible, open, and expansive. These are the hardest types who are rigid, frightened, closed, paranoid, uncertain, and dysthymic, not because they have these traits, per se, but because they lack a core of resiliency and reflectivity,  without which keeps them narrow, stuck, and unimaginative. It’s not what diagnosis they have but what capacity they lack. And this element of what is or isn’t there is what I am referring to as ego, the operating system of the personality, the executive function, the manager, the circumspect overseer whose job it is to be vigilant by addressing the external world in such a way as to become a recipient of all that Life has to offer. It is the general manager with a team full of prima donnas trying to coordinate a winning season. To this end, we need to treat it with respect and care, as well as with pity and compassion, for its job is massive. Jung says that “all the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable......They can never be solved, but only outgrown”. Think of ego, then, as an overly responsible self-agency which must needs be on top of everything in order to, well, be on top of everything. Upon not being up for life in the physical and emotional dualism in which it lives, it falters and compensates by “acting as if” it is competent and confident, i.e. inflated. By way of further definition, I am proffering ego as an element on the front line of both the external world that comes at it and  the internal world out of which flows one’s perceptions of knowing what to do here in life. As above, little is as hard as doing therapy with an adult who has not accomplished much or anything in their lives, not only because they actually haven’t but because, through trauma, they did not have the necessary developed self-capacity in the first place to meet the needs of the world. They offer us very little to grab on to for growth and development to take place. The newest study out now regarding the elements of successful therapy states  that whereas the relationship between client and therapist is vital, equal to this process is the self-capacity of the client. What do they bring for us to use to help them realize their actual, but now cryptic, destinies? Denial systems are hard enough to work with, but worse is a client so frightened of and defended against the world they cannot perceive the possibility of any potential. This is what happens in clients diagnosed in the Axis II category. It’s not that they have defenses but that that is all they have and, therefore, lack cohesion and flexibility.

Possible Answers:

Let us then consider that there is not really only one ego but rather two, the one we most speak of in common parlance being the most suspect. It may be better understood as the Shadow Self rather than the ego, per se, because it is chiefly composed of repressed and disowned unconscious material. The other ego, the executive function, as I am offering here, is a quite positive element without which we would surely perish on this Earth. Aside from the mythology, perhaps Adam and Eve were just hungry! In common conversation, when we come upon an insecure person who uses excessive energy to prove themselves worthy, we often speak of that person as having a “big ego”. The implication here is that, by definition, ego is bad, as in narcissistic selfishness. And while this kind of behavior can certainly be troublesome, think of ego here as like halitosis, that is, that it is better than no breath at all! It’s not that ego, per se, is bad, but that the expression of itself is compensatory and emerges to have others fill the void for them. It compensates for some real or imagined flaw not even consciously recognized in the individual “ego”consciousness.  When questioned by the outside, defensiveness emerges and sometimes even explodes upon those who ask about it. But this is a good thing, for it at least indicates an intentionality to be something more than it is. Angry defensiveness indicates a drive toward something held as valuable even if only the most basic kind of survival, for anger is not so much a feeling as it is a strategy. So, embedded in this kind of behavioral dynamic is evidence of both the basest and best of what ego is. It is the manager of the separate self as well as the major block to ultimate connection with the Higher Self, humanity at large, and Cosmic Oneness overall. Without this manager function, one would not survive. We would remain totally dependent throughout our  “mean, small, nasty, brutish and short” lives, quoting Hume. There would be no intentionality, no drive, no impetus to acquire and attain, no interest in pleasure-seeking, and no sense of any purpose. In short, an egoless person would be totally depressed, unable to move about their world with any conscious possibility and would be worse off than animals because at least animals have a vivid intentionality to survive. 

We all persist for something greater than what we experience in any moment. And while this egoic state, per se, is not the problem, it becomes problematic for two distinct reasons. One is that, in its fear, ego stops developing in any fully human, destined way. It gets stuck and digs in for safety. And secondly, it sets up shop by creating clever ways of compensating for rather than growing through its real and imagined flaws. This is where ego turns sour, for it is so afraid of being incomplete and inadequate, that it erects defenses to stay alive and by so doing creates barriers to its own selfhood. Adler referred to this process as the Law of Overcoming, translated as the means of compensating and over-compensating for these “feelings of inferiority”that we have come to think of as our very lives. So, paradoxically and tragically, we try to save ourselves by strangling our potential! Better to stagnate into our comfortable middle than to walk to our edges and fail, we reason, being thoroughly immersed in our smaller-self egos. Do therapists need a better explanation as to why our work is so difficult and why we need extensive training to lead clients to their edges for self-discovery? In this sense, the larger the executive-type egos, the easier our work is because this kind of ego is able to self-assess, innovate, generalize, and stay in tact in the face of sometimes horrendous personal regrets, dark memories, and cruel criticisms.

It has been stated over and over that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  But what is really happening is that it is not power or intentionality, per se, that corrupts, but rather the absence of it and the drive to get it. This is Jung’s basic theory as to the presence of evil. It is also Adler’s idea that a sense of failure, as an inferiority complex, makes people compensate in ways that injure other people, as Nietzsche states so emphatically. It is in this very chasm of self-limiting beliefs based on fear that ego is led, Faust-like, down the road of ego-only existence. Freud has helped us understand what happens here, for in his system, there are really only two, not three, parts to the self, these being the super-ego and the id. According to him, the ego simply developed not at all to be the chariot that could lead us to our spiritual destinies, a la Jung, but rather as a means of protecting our selfish, boundless ids from scrutiny and punishment by the super-parent. As such, there is no genuine independent ego-process in Freudian psychology.          

But ever since Freud, the history of psychology has all been about the entry of a genuine, non-contingent, independent personal element that allows for tension and conflict to exist along with its capacity to derive some meaning out of the chaos. It has moved from a basic morality system to a functional one, one that calls for courage and resiliency, the very qualities lacking in people with little or no ego executive function. Freud’s system is an adjustment-focused process where symptoms (anxiety) are to be recognized as the presence of pathology and is, at base, a behavioral model resting on unconscious material. Jung’s system is a developmental, evolutionary process where symptoms are seen as an incompleteness in the personality structure based on a lack of awareness of anything beyond egoic consciousness. To Freud, the purpose of therapy is “to bring people to normal misery”, whereas in Jung, the focus of therapy is on digging deep enough to see that all Life is spiritual in nature and that there is no real end to what can be apprehended. This is where the ego as executive simply runs out of fuel and where the ego as commander-in-chief gets rowdy. Care must be taken by therapists and parents alike not to overwhelm the individual’s egoic level, and certainly not to undershoot it. This is a focus of another paper, but suffice to say here that amongst the best material on this topic is the early research on ego-development by Judith Loevinger. I highly recommend this approach which underlies the field of ego psychology.  

People having grown up under the watchful eye of superego, and this would includes all of us, typically abort the very experience for which we are destined merely by defending their selves. The ego thinks the defense of self leads to prominence and safety. Redoing Descartes, “I am safe now, therefore I must be right”! But people having grown up with sufficiency of inclusion, potency, and attachment are actually able to move beyond this basic motive of safety. They are able to look beyond their egoic constructs of uniqueness, specialness, and superiority as mere compensations, but usually only, alas, after hitting bottom somehow. The dark side of ego is so powerful that it convinces the self of its ultimate legitimacy as is, without any transformation that lifts people into states of new awakenings. It is like enlightenment is seen by the ego as a major threat, the very thing the ego-self is destined to accomplish, but not as ego. It is in this paradoxical crucible all of us as individuals find ourselves and, as puppies inside a paper bag, try exhaustively to extricate ourselves from this confusing dualism. But doing so only with the ego only tightens the bag around us and has us act even more foolishly. As Emerson wrote, “the soul is lost mimicking the soul”!

It is not by ego strength or development alone that the soul will find its true destiny as co-creators and collaborators of the Universe. Yet, without the original ego self construct, we can never arrive at any meaning that can sufficiently disturb us into seeking other paths. When in therapy, clients with enough ego to know something is not right but not enough to be able to look beyond ego for answers need a guiding light. Ego is a one-dimensional tool operating in a three dimensional environment and is not aware of there being a fourth, this being the numinal world of the spirit. How does ego-bound self then learn about this fourth dimension if it is so tied into itself? Since ego is a windowless room, how does it begin to see through the density it has developed? How does it extricate itself from identifying with ego-only constructs?  The answer to these questions lies in a totally non-Western world-view, one asserting that humans contain a natural, a priori, internal, and intrinsic capacity for Oneness. This departs from a rational, three-level western  universe with its emphasis upon an external godhead unlike anything in the individual person. It is best summarized in the three laws of Dharma which posits that the Spirit, the Buddha-Nature, the Imago Dei is imprinted into all sentient Life and that it constantly draws us to this reality. It is, in short, a Living Universe where all creation is shared by all creation. It counters the notion of a three-story universe of heaven, earth, and hell and instead preserves the idea of a cooperative co-creatorship. This was the “aha experience” Edgar Mitchell underwent on his return from the moon and seeing and shooting “Earth-Rise”, the most copied photograph in human history. It occurred to him that we are all made of star-dust, that is, that we are all One. Upon returning, he founded IONS, the Institute of Noetic Science, in an attempt to blend science and spirit. Dharma states that although we are physical beings seeking personal meaning and safety, we are first and foremost spiritual beings having a physical experience! This turning of reality on to its head can be rather, well, heady! The dualistic physical reality of our world and our bodies have sucked so much of our latent energy into mere survival-searching that we have little energy or desire left over to imagine anything other than personal security, thus never getting beyond Maslow’s first two layers of his need hierarchy. This is where we must honor ego by having the intellectual and emotive capacities to keep our bodies safe from danger so that we can live long enough to perhaps realize the basic, constitutional nature of our selves, that being that we are spirit-in-a-body entities rather than bodies only seeking spiritual meaning. This is all ego is supposed to do, i.e. keep us safe, alive and striving. Its job is not transcendence. And any time the ego thinks it is transcending, it is really undergoing a severe bout of ego-inflation, usually the result of not having been acknowledged and included enough in the early years. The other two laws of Dharma, simply put, are to discover who and really what we are and then to use that in the service of others. But without the first law active within our larger selves, any service to others will be self-serving, not a bad thing, per se, but just so incomplete that no eternal satisfaction comes from it. This is what leads to compensation and over-compensation, i.e. fear wrapped in bravado.

Until we run the ego’s course, we will never realize our true potential and that of human Life overall. We need to start thinking of ego as necessary but not sufficient. We need to see is as a scared child in a supermarket trying its best to find its parent and, upon failing, getting ugly, i.e. desperate. We need to think of ego as the shuttlebus that takes us to the airport but not as the airplane that is  to fly us to our ultimate destination. We need to be able to stay in tact as we face our personal set backs before we can muster the energy to hang in with our selves even when they look so foreign to us. This is the aim of therapy.

General Therapeutic Considerations:

Therapy is where we have permission to be limited, even weird, since our collective egos do not permit this elsewhere. Somewhere we need to see our selves as loveable and worthwhile even in the face of our distorted egoic errors of perception and behavior and be understood and accepted.  Life invites us to our basic destiny of realizing our co-operative place as individuals in the cosmic panoply of Oneness. In this way, we can experience a sense of participation and completion in the flow of Life. But relying on ego to make sense of this is futile, like thinking the shuttlebus  is the airplane and then driving off the end of the runway only to blame the airport.

When Jung states that “knowledge is the specific nature of the psyche”, he is not talking about intellectual or even cognitive information gathering. He is referring to the organic connection of the cosmos and all that is in it, including human beings. He is alluding to a Oneness model of ontology where everything and every person is composed of the same basic substance, that substance being consciousness, the prima materia of awakening, enlightenment, and individuation.

If only ego would know this. This is the problem with ego as shadow. It still maintains its centrality even in the face of obvious limitedness. There is no humility. It pushes its way into the center of everything in order to prove its worth, usually to itself, first. Jung goes on to say, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. The latter procedure, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular”. Adler, Jung and Freud all had one major thing somewhat in common, that being the apparent nature of the personal unconscious. Both saw it as containing material of which the ego had no knowledge. But here the similarity ends, for in Freud, the unconscious was seen as “the boiling cauldron”, filled as it was with guilt over sexual desires. Jung, more consistent with Adler’s view who saw it as “the unadmitted”, refers to the shadow as a place where “everything that I don’t want to be” is relegated. Inside Jung’s shadow, or, personal unconscious, ( as distinct from the Archetypal Unconscious), then, is a lot of fine human qualities that simply don’t jibe with the individual’s self image. And for the individual to realize their total potential, they would have to walk into and through their personal shadow because the repressed material in there is as much a part of the Self as what ego sees in its own consciousness. We must become open to our whole potential. Jung said that the purpose of life” is not to be good, but to be whole”. His was not a moralistic approach, but an ontological one in which the cosmos was a beckoning entity that made Itself fully available for anyone who had the courage to look, first, into their shadow and then choose increased, integrated consciousness over safety. As he said, “I had to wrench myself free of god, so to speak, in order to find that unity in myself which god seeks through man”. It was an inevitably natural way to live. And ego-centered living is only natural up to the point where it can escape the gravitational pull of the dualistic need for security. Beyond this point, it is unnatural. It is a mangled Mephistophelian manipulation.

Specific Therapeutic Considerations:

The ego, being necessary but not sufficient, needs to soften and allow for the inclusion of its basic nature to develop. But before it can do that, it has to have a discrete life of its own, no matter how problematic it is before it individuates, or, becomes awake. In keeping with sound therapeutic considerations about entering a client’s story only at the ego level in which they operate, when a therapist encounters an ego deficit, the job is to help build the ego through what I call “self claim”.  For, it is only through a person’s daring to move past their pseudo self and into their darkness that they can just begin to see through the density of ego consciousness and peer into the light of their inherent spiritual nature. People must know that they are choosing, and why, before there is any chance of transformation or even paradigm shift. Of course, clients don’t usually enter therapy for this purpose. They come because their egos have run them into the ground and they are in pain. Further, they want simultaneously to not hurt any more and also to not have to change. This is classic ego unconsciousness, hubris at its worst and we have all been there. As such, therapists cannot judge their clients but rather sit with their egoic pain and understand the developmental nature of consciousness. Adler asserted that everybody is doing the most they can at any point in time and that if they could do more, they would. But ego puts the brakes on any such thing, and to the demise of  itself because it is the best ego can do!. Not to be outdone, the ego simply fabricates the story to maintain its exoneration..........and starts the atrophy of consciousness.......and relationships.

Ego maintains an ideal sense of self and arranges its life around the establishment of that personal desire. But if you take the Ideal Self and subtract the Actual Self, it equals the individual’s “Shoulds”. At this point, the less developed the ego is, the more it will opt to exercise its Shoulds in the direction of bolstering its Ideal Image. The stronger, larger, more developed ego will opt in the opposite direction of looking at and accepting its Actual Self, that which came into being as a result of the choices it made while inside the ego-trance. It will then approach the shadow, enter it slowly, begin integrating the dark material in there, and then and only then stand at the threshold of the numinal, the Archetypal Collective where Oneness can start emerging into view.

 There is a saying attributed to Will Rogers: “good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment”. But the bad judgment is like the halitosis mentioned earlier. The problem is that ego always interprets its actions as necessary and positive and therefore cannot learn from its own experience. It sees itself as separate. It does not know that it is encircled in a oneness relationship with the eternal. It is bent on survival and will always have to be right in order to feel the safety it craves. Rumi said that “Perfection is not for the pure of soul; there may be virtue in sin”. The Dharmic principle rests on the notion of a living, beckoning universe that calls for authenticity and will allow us to suffer over and over again until we learn something. After all, how many times does something have to happen before it occurs to us! Karma is an opportunity put before us by an actively-seeking, eternal cosmos. And to interpret suffering as singly onerous is to miss the point of the Life process. It’s not about safety anymore but rather about the development and evolution of the soul-Self.  

 Karma is simply unlearned lessons. Therapists need to continually reflect with clients, and parents with children, as to how they think what they are doing is going to work. There is no morality in this approach, only function. And truly, neurosis has been rightly defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. This is the little “s” self bereft of its beginnings, its composition, and its destiny. It’s like the angry carpenter who exclaimed, “Damn it; I’ve cut this board THREE times and it is STILL too short”. How the ego softens and opens is not the mystery it appears when you think in terms of Dharmic process where we are seen as  intrinsically spiritual and needing to learn Oneness while first here in the form of” Twoness”, that is, dualistic matter. Life, as such, is way too important to take seriously, to see Life only as matter. This is the way of the ego, trying its best to make sense of life while wearing blinders, blinders it does not know it is wearing, but blinders nonetheless. It was Keats who said that “when you know Earth is the vale of soul-making, you will know what to do here”. Ego must take itself off the hook and allow for earth-only efficiency. This can only be done in conjunction with the Deep Self.  Ego is not Ultimate yet it is an eternal and important instrument to develop and move through, so that we can hear the beckoning of the Eternal Ultimate. In this sense, ego is the gateway to the Eternal. It was Ram Dass who said that we have to have an ego first in order to move beyond it. The only way to discover what this ultimacy is and how we stand within it rather than under or against it is to have had, first, a sense of ego-self and all the limitations and trials commensurate with it. For it is only through these trials that the ego can learn that it is not ultimate. It takes real strength to rise up out of one’s demise in the hopes of discovering something more durable than ego.  James Hillman is quoted as saying “troubles are calls from the gods”. They are opportunities for the individual to grow beyond its own safety oriented life style and into something more closely aligned with completion, as Jung put it. He said “that if you do not follow your destiny, you will meet your fate”. Ego knows nothing of this destiny until it is on its back looking up, at which time it either softens or hardens. Both responses are geared for surviving, but only the first one is focused on thriving. As it enters this vast arena of unknown entities, the urge is to rush back to the familiar. Here is where we must support the ego-self to continue moving to its edges to discover more about one’s self, and in so doing developing empathy for others. For once we begin seeing our selves as having been distorted and how we built a life style on these limiting beliefs, we can no longer judge others. We have finally entered into the realm of the authentic human being, a place where the focus is no longer on being right or good but upon becoming whole and therefore connected to the working of the eternal cosmos.

 I like considering that we were all just born too young! And this is why we need sound, spiritually based parenting so children can grow up with as much sense of self as they can, given Life’s  vicissitudes. Life would be hard even with perfect parenting. It is the nature of Life to have us all enter it with an a priori comprehension of growth as our first and final destiny and not safety. But this reality is not apparent to us until we eventually include ego-consciousness as necessary. Yet, without sufficient safety, none of us would ever survive at all. With only safety, however, we never come into our fullness and then die “Waiting for Godot”, never venturing beyond the narrow, confining security of the windowless room we call ego.

From  Here, Where?

The issue is not with ego, as such, but identification with it. In its fear, ego lures us into thinking that what it knows is all there is to know. And when you have six billion people all doing this, it’s a wonder we are surviving at all. Thanks only to our objective, intrinsic god-consciousness, we actually might! Thinking of ego not as an entity in itself but only as one phase of whole long line of developmental tasks may be one way to tolerate it in one’s self and in others. It’s job is basically regressive, that is, to once again return to a place of Eden-like safety and ease. But with innocense, there is no awareness. And without awareness, there is no egoic self consciousness to understand greater realities. And without an egoic self consciousness seeking to understand greater realities,  there can be no courage to face the shadow. And without that courage to face the shadow, there would be no openness to the holy spirit. And without this holy spirit, there would be no entry or awakening into an enlightened non-dual existence. This last piece is the destiny of all of us in order to move beyond living lives of quiet desperation . Consider these immortal words from Longfellow who wrote, “Life is long and life is earnest, and the grave is not its goal. Dust to dust and ashes to ashes were words not written for the soul”.

Life satisfaction, then, becomes a matter of the alignment of these two significant entities (the ego and  the eternal) rather than the elimination or annihilation of one or the other. As long as we live on this physical planet, replete with dualistic realities, we need a manager of sorts (the ego), but one tuned in to its overall purpose, function, and place within and as determined by the greater wisdom of the Unconscious Psyche (the eternal). There can be no materialism vs. spiritual argument. Both, the ego and the eternal, are real in their own ways and in need of acknowledgment. For as Carl Jung has said, If we do not find our destiny, we will meet our fate.".  This is the fundamental cooperation.

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Don Mihaloew, EdD, LMFT, CFLE

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University Conference Center & Hotel
310 SW Lincoln
Portland, OR 97201
Portland Tuition includes Catered Lunch
$85 by 02/05/08; $95 after
AHP & IONS Members - $75/$85 (lunch/snacks)
Students: $40
Professional CEC, CEU, PDU - $10 Door

Register for Portland OR
More Info Below
Also Other NW Locations/Fees

Seattle, WA
Jan. 24, 2009

Seattle Healing Arts
(lunch on own)
AHP Members

Feb. 28,2009

Wise Awakenings
(lunch on own)
AHP Members

Don Mihaloew, EDd, LMFT professor, writer, and therapist offers an all day change seminar focused on a means to understand limiting behavioral patterns shaped by unconscious forces. Practically examine core issues, reframe personal directions, learn how to live intentionally and purposefully in a dualistic world.

Through lecturette, discussion, and experientials, we will look at ways of  moving into allowing the inner dwelling place of our higher natures to speak to us. Coming from Jungian, Adlerian, Existential Humanistic, Object Relations, and Systems notions, the workshop stresses a shift from cognitive, ego only to an numinal, ego archetypal approach.

Don Mihaloew, EdD, LMFT, CFLE

Dr. Donald M. Mihaloew, Ed.D., LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in Oregon for forty years and an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Portland State University in the Dept. of Counseling Psychology. He is a Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) through the National Council of Family Relations and a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT). He is also a life-time member of the American Humanistic Psychology Association, a member of Oregon Friends of C.G.Jung, and the National Association of the Society of Adlerian Psychology. He presently resides in Bellingham, Washington with his wife, Betty, who is an LCSW.

Click link for Preferred Date, Venue

Note: Asks for email address to register.
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Jan. 24, 2009 - Seattle, WA

Feb. 07 Portland OR

Feb. 28, 2009 - Bellingham, WA

Contact Susan Burns



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