Better the devil you do know

It’s a bit eerie the way online streaming service Spotify learns your music tastes and feeds new content likely to appeal. It must have been picking up on my current indie-kirtan-ambient-yoga-ethereal vibe when it played a track by East Forest titled “Grandmothersphere”.

As it begins, lush music fades in with a dreamy voiceover asking “do you want to know what enlightenment is?” followed by ponderous deep breathing. Now, honestly, that might have got me advancing to the next track because I’m not a fan of being “told” the answer to such questions. But the phone wasn’t close enough, the track played through, and toward the end I heard something that strongly resonated:

“I didn’t transcend the ego, we became partners. We became teammates.”

Well, I really liked the pragmatism of that notion. I know, i know, the ideal probably is to transcend the ego; to surpass and supplant that sheath of identity which wraps around each of us and likes to defensively delineate between “I” and the broader source energy that is everyone and everything. But, if you’ve read my bio, you may know that I’m bit of a peculiar blend of conceptual and realist. And, frankly, I’m not so sure I am ever going to fully move beyond my ego in this lifetime.

But I do get it. I do mostly understand what the ego seeks to do: to protect and propagate itself (which is to say guard one’s identity) at all costs. Though while I am mindful of some of what is happening below the surface, the ego is clever and shrewd and not going to be dispensed with readily. And so it occurs to me that—for who I am, and how I am—I might have better success (i.e., growth) overall if I work with ego rather than in opposition to it.

“Better the devil you do know, than the one you don’t,” as the saying goes, and I continue to get better at understanding the ego’s ploys and tricks to point I can often beat it at its own game. But I doubt I’ll be giving it the slip anytime soon.

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