Ms. Ego and her crazy polka dance with self


I don’t buy the story that you must do nothing to awaken to what you are.

Here’s why.

Imagine a baby born a blank slate, a clean tablet, an empty song of possibility.

The parents and culture begin a regime of cult-like acculturation, teaching the innocent babe the rules of human society.  Patterns form in baby’s brain.  As baby grows, patterns harden with cement-like ferocity.  By the time baby reaches kindergarten he’s ready for an even deeper groove of cultural conditioning.

That’s assuming you don’t believe in reincarnation.  Should you believe baby arrives with tendencies and previously established deep-down patterns, you might energetically glimpse what looks like underwater glaciers of beliefs and reactivity already filling the ocean of baby’s unconsciousness.

Human conditioning is fierce.

Personality hardens its mask-like face.

Perceive an adult with thirty, forty, sixty years.  This adult often operates from deep patterns with robot-like efficiency. What she learned at age eight and repeated 354, 879, or 1,543 times now grooves deep in the brain.  She thinks she’s thinking, but often she’s simply mechanically moving, reacting, unconsciously fulfilling the pattern’s imperative.

The adult mostly believes his thoughts.  He assumes he’s thinking.  He hears  thought, claims it belongs to him, and reacts.  His worldview perceives he’s a separate individual, in a separate body, a unique mental, emotional and physical human being.


Now let’s suggest the unthinkable.  What if we human beings are something other than separate selves?  What if we’re simply awareness, expansive spacious awareness in which everything arises?  What if we’re the space in which sun, leaves, wind, computer, disgusted thought, delighted thought, angry feeling, smiles, weeping tears, houseplant, blanket, job, politics, religion and “What’s for lunch?” all arise?

What if we’re much wider, more expansive, more encompassing than our cultural conditioning?  What if the way we view the world involves no “I” at all? What if it’s simply “this arising“?

What if evolution points to this realization, when we tire with the wonderful/awful/happy/sad polka of identifying with a single human perspective?

What if the effort to maintain a separate self begins to erode, begins to chip away, begins to dissolve?

Many sages counsel:  You do not have to do anything.  It will fall away on its own.

Other sages shake wise heads:  No, no, no!  You must meditate, join an ashram, crack open your egg, stand on your head, realize your truth, realize WHAT is true, ask yourself 5,888,444,333 times “Who am I?”  “Who am I?”  “Who am I?” (Insert the advice of your wise sage, church, author, shaman or teacher.)

Some sages insist, “You must look within.  There are sixty paths to realizing what you are beyond the human mold.  But there is only path you must take–and the secret path lies within.  You must follow your own path.”

Other sages gasp, “NEVER FOLLOW YOUR OWN PATH!  You will mess up.  You need a wise guru, pastor, Native American healer, Buddha, Jesus, Allah, teacher–anyone except your own path because ego is so embedded in your own path you will NEVER EVER find your way out of the abyss.”

Circle of life

What is Ms. Ego?

Ego is the cement of cultural conditioning.  Some folks think ego is a bad word, but it’s a lovely word for someone who has chosen to enjoy a human personality. Ego holds us in place so we can be a John, Jane or Donna Summers.  It holds us in place for up to, say, 100 years, so we can truly grok a perspective.

Ms. Ego encompasses your thoughts (or what you think are your thoughts) and glues them into beliefs (good and bad, healthy and horrible).  Ms. Ego keeps together the act you’ve chosen to encompass.  She’s a peach.

Sages who’ve awakened say, hey mon, doesn’t matter.  You’re waking up anyway.  Enjoy your dance with Ms. Ego!  Be an astronaut in your head bubble. Be an accountant with your endless numbers.  Be a writer with your million words.  Be asleep in the personality and thoughts for as long as you want.  Awareness is operating anyway.

If you’re reading these words, I can almost bet that you’ve experienced a thought, “There is something more than THIS.  There is something more than this personality, this perspective, this life, this world.”  And you’ve believed this thought, and it’s now leading you…into another thought which says you must do something…or shouldn’t do anything…

There’s a tear in the fabric of your cultural conditioning and you’re seeking to gnaw your way out, or you’re vaguely dissatisfied, or you’ve dreamed your escape on previous occasions (often due to illness or grace or suffering or an unexpected sunrise in Peru) and now you desperately or vaguely want to transcend yourself and realize what you already are before you cemented those grooves.

What should you do?

If you do nothing–you may just end up following the pattern of your conditioning for the next five or 80 years.

If you do something–you’re doing it from the fixation of your ego, your fixed patterning.  You’re creating an energy of doingness that contains an energy of somethingness, which is obviously just another polka with Ms. Ego.

What is

What’s a personality to do to realize what exists beyond the veil of itself?

Luckily, deep within, the Holy Grail exists.  (We only thought it was lost.)  The Holy Grail is awareness.  Awareness is like a laser sword.  A magic spear.  It cuts through patterns like chemotherapy without the poisons.

Unfortunately, one must steady attention to apply the laser of awareness.  The purpose of meditation or concentration is like Olympic training.  Patterns run without awareness.  When awareness penetrates a pattern, it erodes and begins to disintegrate.  It may fall apart in a month or sixteen years, but awareness weakens the cement which you’ve utilized to hold the personality in place.

What then, you ask, is Presence?  Presence is the steady attention of awareness. It’s meditation in action-less action.  It is the laser of awakeness engaged with John, Paul, Mary and the kitchen sink.  It is all there is when you’ve dissolved the patterns of I, me and myself.

Presence is what exists before you glued yourself into a separate self. Presence is what we are, the spacious awareness of this-here-now.

What is the something that you must do to do nothing?  Cultivate being-here-now.  Cultivate attention, awareness, bird singing, thoughts rising, pain in heart, stomach growling for breakfast.

Patterned grooves are fierce and will often fight-to-the-death to maintain their right to lead the polka.  By gosh, they step on our feet all the time and we’re crazy yelping humans barely dancing at all fussing about our broken toes and swollen ankles!  No wonder Buddha carried on about suffering.  His feet ached after all those years of dance practice…

What we eventually realize is that life polkas.  Not you, not me, not ego, not thoughts, not feelings, not anything.  Presence polkas.  Awareness polkas.  This-here-now polkas!  (OK, Ms. Ego, you can come along for the dance in your pretty polka-dotted dress and cowboy boots, but you’re not leading anymore.)

Life polkas!  Hear the music? 

Let’s dance!


14 thoughts on “Ms. Ego and her crazy polka dance with self

    • It really clarified some things for me to type this out this morning, Laurie. If anyone else gets something from this~~Hurray! May your weekend sparkle golden, too.

  1. Here’s what I’ve learned nearing 60: 1). The rituals I set in stone & practiced every day for years (chanting, prayer, specific yoga postures) has dropped away & I feel no compulsion to fill up the time w/something else. It’s OK for me to just be (this was a stunning revelation). 2). Over time, people don’t really change all that much in their basic core personality, regardless of chasing after the next, and the next, self-help endeavor 3). remembering to pay attention with an aware state of mind is all there is; the world will roll in at your feet regardless. For me, factors of the ego are sloughing off with age; and it’s quite interesting to observe.

    • Monica, I think many of us start out with rituals and self-help avenues before settling down to the aware state of mind. How wonderful to realize that the ego is sloughing away with age. I keep discovering layers upon layers of resistance to Presence. Some of them have sloughed off; others remain entrenched. This spring finally penetrated the fear of emptiness, needing something to “do” after a lifetime of resistance. I honor you in your journey of awareness. It feels like I can actually “feel” the spaces between your thoughts.

      • Thank you for this dialogue, Kathy. I enjoy learning from you.
        I’ve found the bare boned explanations on Presence from Alan Watts to be quite helpful as well. Carry on!

  2. I enjoyed reading this and especially loved your offering of the many different paths; laid out like a feast on which the reader can recognise something they have always liked or perhaps taste something that has never entered their waking consciousness. 🙂

  3. I am always inspired when I find myself in such good company. When I see the reflection of collective higher consciousness meandering through the words and thoughts of others who are evolving the human spirit in similar but uniquely different ways than I am, I feel greatfully connected to my tribe. But when the synchronicity of expression around the same theme is so precise, I am awed by the power of the unified field, the one heart, the force of evolution and multidimentionality.

    Reading your post Kathy after writing my own alerts me to the fact that we were reflecting the same thought through our individual cystaline selves, beaming out different colors from the same stream of consciousness rainbow. This coincidense is more than meaningful to me, it supports everything I know to be true about how the universe works, soul groups and being present. How delightful to feel the connection to all that is in just this way. Thank you!

  4. This is some straight on clear seeing!

    I agree with Laurie, these lines drip with clarity…

    “Human conditioning is fierce.”

    “Personality hardens its mask-like face.”

    And this is THE proposition…

    “Now let’s suggest the unthinkable. What if we human beings are something other than separate selves? What if we’re simply awareness, expansive spacious awareness in which everything arises?”

    I really like what Monica Devine writes.”remembering to pay attention with an aware state of mind is all there is; the world will roll in at your feet regardless” Yaaaaaa! This openness is intelligent and can be relied upon. Man, does that ever invite taking a load off.

    It took quite a bit of failure here to notice that 1) something outside me wasn’t going to save me, 2) thought & personality were completely unreliable predictors of happiness, 3) happiness doesn’t need to be pursued… it rolls in at your feet when openness, availability, and vulnerability come to the fore then awareness is seen to be what was here all the time. Oh yeah! It is unconditional. Not based on people, places, and things. As my friend Mike says, sometimes you have to go through a lot of efforting to see none is required. That is your larger point I think Kath. That has been my experience here.

    4) Being special is not the goal we were taught. Seeing and being the ordinariness (to ego) or naturalness of what we already are is what reveals the inherent beauty and spectacular nothingness that requires no window dressing. Touching this allows Mr. & Ms Ego to see through themselves… not always gladly.

    Sometimes removing the lid off the box shows that there were\are some dancing pandoras within. And, it takes a steady hand and learning that seeing is enough. The conditioned desire to fix is set up to perpetuate the condition as it imposes an arbitrary standard based on a viewpoint of how the world is “supposed” to operate. Time to hit the b.s. buzzer on that one and stop juggling those points of view allowing them to drop back to earth.. The world\life operates as it will. Always has.

    In the end though, it is not in the appearances however nice or dark. It is just not out there… or based on some specialness in here…. and I don’t get to get it because by the time I do or will…. it is waaayyyyy too late.Can’t be grasped because because because… Dorthy, it is who we wonderfully are!

    Free passes to Studio 51 via Fargo!

    There is no rule though that says this has to or will happen all at once although for some folks it will. It has been very individual and highly intimate here as you say Kath. There ARE background programs running specific to the individual person wherever they come from.

    I love your description of presence. “Presence is what exists before you glued yourself into a separate self. Presence is what we are, the spacious awareness of this-here-now”

    Shew! That is HOT! So, it is time to BE NAKED! Regardless of attire… 😀

    o.k. I am starting to have too much fun.

    Life does Polka and the beauty is in attending to what gives it the space to do so… as it naturally wants to do…. after flying all the missions! 😀

    Thanks for such clear and beautifully descriptive writing! A cup of clarity warmly quaffed on this beautiful day truly is a gift!

    Bows to the Lady!

    • It is so big, Ben, when we realize thought and personality aren’t going to save us. It sounds like “openness, availability and vulnerability” are the non-doings that lead the polka dance for you. Glad you appreciated this attempt to add words to the dance. Love!

  5. Kathy, if I knew what to say, I would say it but until that time comes please know that your words reflect, with such clarity, what is happening in my own heart and soul and life. And I am grateful beyond words.

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