Post election reflections: shedding the ego

Dama by Antonio Saura 1958

Dama by Antonio Saura 1958

Since the election results in the UK those of us in England who are passionate about caring for all the species on our planet, have been full of despair. Those of us in England who are trying to build an egalitarian society, where all can flourish, have been full of despair. During the election the atmosphere throughout this long island has been suffused with fear and anxiety and negative campaigning.  That’s why I have started this post with one of Antonio Saura’s powerful works. They show, in a way I can’t with words, my current feelings of alienation – through his strong thick brush strokes, his sober palette of colours, his sharp edges.  The white strokes caught up, overwhelmed, in this jangle signify, for me, the glimmer of hope shared by many of us as we went to vote.

Time, I thought, to turn back to Roy Bhaskar. Could he help free me from these negative feelings? Help me struggle out of the mires of defeat and find ways to carry forward our vision without acrimony?

He reminds me that to be is to be related.

He reminds me that I cannot myself be free or fulfilled until all beings are also free and fulfilled.

He reminds me of the role of the ‘ego’ that is so self-evident in the voting patterns at the outcome of this election.  Here is his description of this, from ‘Reflections on Meta-Reality’, page 137:

It is that sense we have of ourselves as separate and cut off from the rest of creation, that sense of my separate identity against yours. That sense that in some way I can exist independently of you and that you are not a part of me and that in some way my well being does not depend on your well being. That is the ego. Western philosophy and our contemporary society is structured around the idea of the individual self which possesses. And this individual possessive self stands in possessive, instrumental relation to an object world which is outside of himself. (……….) That is the ego, that is the sense of separateness that we have, and that is an illusion and, to be free, we have to get rid of it.

He reminds me that we all have to be continually working to be aware of our own negative emotions that come from our egos, and continually clearing them in order to become ‘like a translucent vessel with no dust to disturb its translucent irradiating qualities.’  In that way we each can act to transform rather than reproduce the current social structures we are working in.

He reminds me that

the only way you can act, ever act, is through yourself. You can only act through or in virtue of your embodied personality. (..) I can only act through myself and then I cannot free you. I can unlock the door but you have to walk out. Emancipation or freedom is not something that can be imposed from without. Every embodied personality has to free themselves.(p. 147)

I can only act myself but I can always try to act to maximise the self-realisation of all beings everywhere.

He argues that capitalism is fed by the negative emotions of the ego – desires, greed, pride but also reminds us that it is also sustained by the virtues of creativity and love of those enmeshed within its asymmetrical networks.

Creative human beings could survive without oppressive or dysfunctional systems of economic or political or for that matter religious management and control. But those systems could not survive without the creativity of human agents. (pp. 316-7, meta-Reality: Creativity, Love and Freedom)

He reminds me that I need to continually be aware of my own illusory, but powerful ego; that I need to continually clear it so that my acts can be transformative.  ‘Anything you do intentionally will be mediated by your emotions’.

I will finish this post with the essential quality of love, which for Bhaskar is the powerful, healing force at the ground-state of us all:

I prefer to think in terms of five radiating circles of love. When you are in one circle this will almost inevitably take you into other circles. These circles are the circle of love for yourself; for another human being; for the totality of other human beings; for the totality of other beings in creation; and for the source or sustaining power in creation itself (p.181, meta-Reality: Creativity, Love and Freedom).

Drum sound rises in the air,               

its throb, my heart.September 2011 Essex and Suffolk 003

A voice inside the beat

says ‘I know you’re tired,

but come. ‘This is the way’.

Jellaludin Rumi, quoted by Bhaskar in meta-Reality: Creativity, Love and Freedom)


3 thoughts on “Post election reflections: shedding the ego

  1. That is a positive post after such a turnaround from the polls election. How to create a fair and more equal society that has great respect for our only home, the Earth. That’s partly why I blog and find there are likeminded souls!


    • kp says:

      Thankyou. It’s important for me too to have contact with ‘likeminded souls’, and expand my perspectives through other people’s blogs (and books).


  2. […] we need to shed some of the identities we have mis-acquired through past experience (see also Post election reflections: shedding the ego). This kind of therapeutic work with our pasts, he argues, is essential to get to recognise and […]


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