Throughout my life I have, along with most other people I suspect, built subpersonalities or what might be termed 'mind/brain sub-routines' which I use in my dealings with the outside world. The nature of each subpersonality depends upon my chosen combination of character strengths and weaknesses, and what I decide is the appropriate function of the subpersonality. These routine behaviour patterns are learned from repeated usage, and may eventually be used in situations where they are no longer appropriate. Furthermore, I may unthinkingly use my own subpersonalities against myself in a form of inner civil war.
Now keeping an open mind, or choosing to look at situations without preconceptions, is the antithesis of operating under the influence of a subpersonality. Clearly, the former action would seem to be better than the latter for all sorts of reasons. The most important reason, perhaps, being that my Self remains awake, alert and fully conscious. Why then did I choose to develop habit-forming ways of operating? And why did I fall into the associated trap of cocooning myself in shells of prejudice? Why would I choose to do all that? The most obvious reason, or so it seems to me, is that subpersonalities are processes with which I appear to be able to effect some control on the world around me. If I can control, I acquire that something called safety. This process begins in the crib of course, where the baby learns that by appropriate utterances it can generate immediate and beneficial responses from its parents. What power a baby wields; it is almost Godlike. However, when the baby's apparently divine status is removed, fear enters the domain of the growing ego. That fear is extremely powerful because the infant faces the twin threats of loss and annihilation, states that the ego decides are totally unacceptable. Yet in the end, for all the struggles in which we engage to maintain control and assumed safety, those sought after states are illusions.
Many years ago I had a quite serious car crash on a busy, dual-carriageway road. I was driving to work in the morning rush hour. There was a particular moment that seemed to last for something approaching eternity, when I was totally powerless. I was in the well of the car, held in place by my seat belt; I could smell the dust and the petrol. I felt no pain from the burns caused by the seat belt cutting into my neck and groins. The silence was wonderful; the end was near, and I did not care. There was absolutely nothing I could do to change anything. Learning curves about illusions do not come any steeper........Then another car hit me! That was no illusion! During that seemingly long period of powerlessness, it may only have been seconds, the realisation that having no control over the events in my life did not bring instant annihilation, brought a profound sense of relief and, oddly enough, a sense of happiness beyond my normal emotions.
All my subpersonalities, and hence how I habitually use my character traits, combine to create my ego. Just as those habitual forms of behaviour create an illusion of power, so then is my ego, and its supposed reality, also an illusion. By somehow ignoring the reality that control of my ability to live, and also not-live, is not in my hands, I fall into denial. Perhaps I need to clarify this point. There is a force or energy within me that keeps my body operating. It is my Life Force. Over that force I can exert no control whatsoever. Throughout the period that my life force continues its purpose within me, my physical body will develop to a certain point and then deteriorate and become unfit for purpose. That is inevitable. (I suspect deterioration begins at birth or even earlier, but is outweighed by the process of development. Thus what we see as physical development and decay is the net effect of these opposing forces. On the other hand, psycho-spiritual growth appears not to be necessarily hampered by destructive forces.)
I am unable to change significantly the conditions required for continued living. My body is a biological machine suited, as far as is possible, to its environment which sustains but also destroys it. My body has adapted to existing conditions of gravity, yet it is gravity which causes ageing. I need oxygen to breathe, yet that gas also produces oxidants that in the end may bring about my downfall. I cannot win. One day my body will simply stop and I will be powerless to make it continue. Similarly I cannot order my body to stop at this moment. Fortunately, it will ignore me. All suicide can do is to make the body unfit for purpose. It doesn't destroy the Life Force, because energy can neither be created nor destroyed. When the body can no longer sustain life, the life energy is converted into some other form, or perhaps returns to its source. I can of course take care of myself to a degree; I can up to a point maintain my body in a state that is fit for purpose, but that is not control.
Sometimes, because I never could stop asking questions, I wonder if it is possible that the ego is a virtual reflection of the life force, just as it appears to be a virtual reflection of the Higher or True state of the Self. Are the Life Force and the True state of Being-ness one and the same? Perhaps the Life Force is what people call God. I don't know; in fact there is so much I do not know. I do know, however, that if I concentrate all my energies onto my ego or virtual self, I will become increasingly identified with it, and thus increasingly out of touch with spiritual reality. I need to continue to detach from that situation. I need to see that I cannot have, but I can Be. I must put away childish things, that is the need to have, as St. Paul, John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart and others have all said, and become adult with the desire to Be.