If we switch and look at what embodied sages say, we encounter a no-nonsense approach to self-importance. For instance, Adyashanti advises us:
“The biggest challenge for most spiritual seekers is to surrender their self importance, and see the emptiness of their own personal story. It is your personal story that you need to awaken from in order to be free. To give up being either ignorant or enlightened is the mark of liberation and allows you to treat others as your Self. What I am describing is the birth of true Love.” (1)
Well, that certainly fits for me.
Unloveable, disagreeable, complainer – these are all elements of a script. Drawing on that script, I interpret events to make up a carefully-pruned, usually self-serving story of events as I saw them and want you to see them.
My story favors me, turns a blind eye to what I contributed to failure and shines the light on what I contributed to success. I am hero in my own write.
I test-run it on my friends and family and get the details down pat. After that, it’s set in stone. I’ve “captured” myself in story as surely as others might on film.
But there’s no aliveness in it. It works counter to awareness. And it doesn’t open the heart. Our story, Adyashanti says, is empty and meaningless.
Krishnamurti looks at the relationship between egoic self-expansion and the rise of conflict within the person:
“Self-expansion in any form, whether through wealth or through virtue, is a process of conflict, causing antagonism and confusion. A mind burdened with becoming can never be tranquil, for tranquillity is not a result either of practice or of time. Tranquillity is a state of understanding, and becoming denies this understanding. Becoming creates the sense of time, which is really the postponement of understanding. The ‘I shall be’ is an illusion born of self-importance. “(2)
The self-importance the ego seeks creates a process of conflict with others because we place them beneath us, a position no one accepts.
It creates conflict within ourselves because it competes for the being’s attention with love and joy, which the longing for liberation will always draw us towards.
It causes confusion because it isn’t a fair or true way of relating to people. All beings are equal in the eyes of God. It forces people to declare themselves: They must submit to our self-importance or wash their hands of it.
The ego pulls the everyday consciousness – the being – towards the lower emotions and the soul pulls the being towards love and joy: That’s the inner conflict, a house divided against itself, which cannot stand forth proud and united within itself. There is no solid ground to stand on.
In my view, those who seek only the world’s pleasures and possessions risk becoming distracted. Krishna said that they walk by the place in the heart where love is, never knowing that the treasure lies within.
Self-important people often express their estimation of themselves through high-status pleasures, experiences, and possessions. Their experience often only goes as high as lower-density feelings like lust and greed. Self-importance is therefore a burden to those who seek to grow and expand.
What about afterlife commentators? Having arrived in safe haven/heaven, how do they now regard self-importance? American journalist Julia Ames’ picture of the fate of the selfish person, which includes the self-important, is severe. She depicts a resident of the Dark Planes, which would only include those who have committed heinous crimes. But it does show the ultimate end of self-importance and other forms of selfishness,
“When … the selfish, blinded man comes over here, he wishes to return. He is here in darkness and in poverty. For he has laid up for himself no treasures in this place. His possessions are all with you.
“He wishes to return and, if the door were wide open, he would return and never reform. Hence it is forbidden him…. (3)
“Their hope of salvation, their chance of evolution, lies in their being deprived of the gauds [showy thing] and trumpery in which they invested their soul. Now [that] they are bankrupt, they may begin again.
“They are like people who have invested in bogus stock, which pays dividends for a year or two out of capital and then goes smash. They must be made to realize the worthlessness of the world-stock before they will invest in things eternal.
“They must lose to gain. And what helps them [to maintain the illusion of the world’s trumpery being valuable] is to be allowed out of the outer darkness to see the world in which they sank their all going on just as it did without their being able to partake of the pleasures and indulge in the sins they loved so well. It is a cup of Tantalus [endless frustration].
“To open up communication between them and your world is for them not good but evil. And for you also it is evil. Hence it is mercifully restricted.” (4)
She’s describing the denizens of the lowest Astral subplanes, whose fate is grim. The merely selfish end up a few subplanes higher but still exist below a line that separates the truly happy from the unhappy (the Higher Summerlands from the lower subplanes).
Some people wake up from their experiences in the Dark Planes and others from their experiences in the Higher Summerlands, as Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson reorts. He finds that people often emerge from their anthropocentric conceit and self-importance when they see the wonders of heaven.
“It is in the conceit and self-importance of man that he should think that beauty is expressly created for his pleasure while on earth. Incarnate man thinks he has the monopoly of beauty. When he becomes discarnate he eventually wakes up to the fact that he has never really seen how great beauty can be and he becomes silent and humble, perhaps for the first time in his life! It is a salutary lesson, the awakening in spirit, believe me, my dear friend – with many a shock to accompany it.” (5)
Where Benson lives, inflated ideas of self-worth can’t exist. Those with self-importance would find the atmosphere too rarified for their liking, just as those who continue to choose separation, selfishness, and competition here today will find our atmosphere becoming too rarified for them in the near future. They may choose to leave.
“Discord and disagreement … could not possibly exist in this realm wherein is my home. …
“Whatever gifts we may possess in spirit, it is part of the essence of this realm that we have no inflated ideas of the power or excellence of those gifts. We acknowledge them in humility alone, without self-importance … and we are grateful for the opportunity of working, con amore, with our colleagues in the service of the Great Inspirer.” (6)
It isn’t that the ego, the self that makes itself important, is bad and wrong. When we lived in caves, it served a very useful purpose, promoting the individual’s and the tribe’s survival. For its service to us in more primitive times, it deserves our gratitude.
But its tendencies will keep us on the lower vibrational level now, where its functioning was appropriate, whereas we want to move ahead. Its time of usefulness is over.
It all works out in the final reel. The story has a happy ending. When we wake up to the fact that we are God, we also wake up to the fact that, as the One, we cannot be more important. But that importance extends to everyone else, who is also the One.
The Light and Love of the One extends to all like filaments of a fiberoptic lamp. In my opinion, our “importance” comes from being that filament of the Light.
(1) Adyashanti, “How You Treat Others,” 1998, downloaded from http://www.adyashanti.org, 2004.
(2) J. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. First Series. Bombay, etc.: B.I. Publications, 1972; c1974, 1, 22.
(3) Denizens of the Dark Planes are not allowed to return to or visit Earth so long as they remain on the Dark Planes.
(4). Julia [Julia T. Ames] through W.T. Stead, medium, After Death. A Personal Narrative. New York: George H. Doran, n.d.; c. 1914, 180.
(5) Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson through Anthony Borgia, medium, Life in the World Unseen. M.A.P., 1993, 97.
(6) Ibid., 117.