Mishkan ha-Echad

Friday, 4 July 2008

Excuses - How The Ego Tricks You

I don't have the time. I'm not in the mood. I'll do it later.

These are but a few of the more obvious excuses that we come up with for not doing things, particularly our magical work (though it applies to all areas of our lives). When we embark on our spiritual quest, or attempt to advance to the next level, our ego panics; how is it going to retain its seat of power if you engage contact with the Higher Self or attempt progress that will diminish selfishness and a limited mindset? So it fights you. And it has to fight, because this could be a life or death matter for it, or, more likely, the toppling of a false king from his throne. The Tower of Babel and the Kings of Edom.

Excuses are one of the ego's greatest tricks. They can be very insidious and convincing, and as you adapt to combat them, so too does the ego adapt its repertoire of excuses so that they become more complex and subtle. Suddenly you think that you're the one who originated with the thought. And you are, in a sense - providing you see the ego as you. But it's not all of you. Far from it. And one of the points of magick is to recognise this, and to help you get in touch with the higher parts of your being.

But what happens when your ego keeps holding you back? Well, firstly you need to recognise that you have an ego (not to be confused with arrogance, which is the ego gone to an extreme), and that the excuses you come up with originate there. In a sense, by externalising them you make them easier to deal with. It's much easier to fight other peoples' thoughts, but ten times harder to fight your own. So, by, in a sense, anthropomorphising your ego, it becomes "another person", and thus can be a little less insidious, and therefore more easy to deal with. This can become a problem, however, when you fail to keep in the back of the mind that this "other" thing is still you, or, at least, part of you. It's very easy to fall into another problem in attributing all the bad stuff you think and do to the ego as if it were not under your control. This forfeiting of control is an attempt to break free from responsibility, and is to be avoided at all costs on the road to adepthood.

Here are some more excuses you might come up with:

I'm not ready. Sometimes you may not be, but chances are that you're holding yourself back. For example, just as there are students who want to skip grades and do gradework above their level, so too are there students who want to linger and languish in their current grade, making 3 months become 6, and 6 become 12, and suddenly they're saying they've forgotten some of the earlier work and have to start all over again, until, in the end, they remain a Neophyte for years, or, indeed, all their life (now, we are all, technically speaking, still Neophytes on the greater path, but we must distinguish this generalisation from the more specific grade structures).

I don't know it well enough, so I'll do it later when I learn the ritual better. And will you? Or why not just get out a print copy of the ritual and do it now! You won't learn the ritual better by putting it off all the time. You learn it by doing it. So what if you make mistakes. That's part of the learning process. I still make the odd mistake in an LRP when I'm tired or not focusing properly, and I've been performing it for over 4 years. A badly performed ritual is infinitely better than none at all. Also, you might just say "I'll do it later", and then it gets later and later until it's bedtime and there's no later left in the day. Then later becomes tomorrow, and then next week, and then next month, and suddenly later is your next life and you still haven't done it.

I don't have the time. If you have the time to read this, then you have the time to perform a ritual, particularly ones that take so little time, such as the QC and LRP. The QC takes less than a minute to perform (indeed, 10 to 15 seconds should do it), and the LRP takes 5 minutes max. I'm sure you've spent a lot longer than 5 minutes staring into thin air, checking your emails, googling something, looking at Youtube, watching a TV show you've already seen before, waiting for your meal to cook, waiting at a busstop, etc. "I don't have the time" is the single most overused excuse for not doing something in the history of humanity. Make the time. Get up 1 minute earlier and do a QC. Rush into your temple space in the 5 minutes of ads between TV programs and do a quick LRP. The further you progress on this path, the more you will realise just how relitive time is. Bend it to your will or you will always be a slave to it. This is the mystery of escaping the bondage of Death.

I missed the scheduled time for ritual. If you have a schedule, great. However, that's designed to help you meet targets, not as leverage to break them. If you planned to do your ritual at 6, and it's now 6:30, do it now, or do it at 7. Many people use this as an excuse particularly with the Solar Adorations, since they are designed around specific times of day. If you miss the Noon one, you might think you shouldn't do it. All you've missed is the opportunity to match the ritual to the ideal time. You can still do it. Indeed, I plan my Adorations around my day, not the exact movements of the Sun, and therefore I usually always get them done. Indeed, even if I forget one, I do it before doing the next, even if that means I'm doing 3 of them in one go. Remember: it's better than not doing them at all!

I'm washing my hair. The ego doesn't have hair.

So, stop making excuses. This is work, the Great Work, and it's not easy. You will face obstacles, both external and internal, but ultimately the decision to progress and be successful lays with you and no one else. If you don't do the work, then you have no one else to blame for when you don't get the results you desire.
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