“Knowledge of man is the beginning of wholeness, but knowledge of God is perfect wholeness. Therefore, as it seems, it is the greatest of all disciplines to know oneself; for a man knows himself, he knows God.”
Clement of Alexandria
Should you kill the ego? Destroy it? Annihilate it? The truth is, the ego is not the enemy, but can become an important ally in your journey of spiritual growth.
Having chosen death over exile, Socrates’ last words were: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” I don’t fully agree. Socrates’ words are saturated with truth but they’re harsh. It may be presumptuous to alter the dying statement of one of the world’s greatest philosophers, but I will anyway. “The unexamined life is not lived fully.”
Is self-enquiry selfish? On the surface it may appear this way. In this video, I compare the philosophy of solipsism and the experience of oneness, or nonduality, to explain why exploring deeper elements of our own unconscious mind paradoxically connects us to the interconnected web of existence.
Solipsism is the philosophy that no knowledge outside of the self can be known. Reality is subjective, and I only have knowledge that I exist. Therefore, everything within my reality is all I can, and all I will ever know as truth. How can I know you exist outside of me? Solipsism says I am the centre of the universe.
I view solipsism as ego-centred. From an intellectual perspective, this argument stands to reason. Viewing the universe as mechanical and material and consciousness restricted purely to the body and brain, of course I will follow the path that “I” am the only verifiable element of existence.
A Vipassana retreat is a special experience. How often are we gifted 10 days of silent solitude, away from busyness, obligations and responsibilities? Meals prepared, an hour-by-hour schedule, accommodation sorted?
The environment is primed for laser-like focus on meditation, self-enquiry and insight. Even so, thriving on retreat, and maximising the benefits… that’s down to you.
I attended my first retreat in April. I’d waited six years from when I started meditation. I knew the time would come when it felt right. And I’d known for a few years I wanted to jump in the deep end with a 10-Day silent Vipassana retreat.
I was attracted to the level of self-discipline. It was a challenge I wanted to prove myself capable of overcoming. Even more, it was an act of gratitude and dedication towards a practice that has added so much to my life.
Of all the people I thought I’d meet, I never thought I’d meet myself. Growing up, I wasn’t aware meeting myself was a possibility. I didn’t give it a second thought. I went about my life, making friends with others, as one does. Imagine my surprise when I met myself on my 50th birthday.
Virtual Reality had been around since I was in my mid-20s. It was nothing new. I was well-versed and a little sceptical. What started as fun began to grow and grow. Since the discovery of the grand-unified theory of physics in 2026, increasing numbers of scientific studies discovered our minds react to VR just as we do the Quantum Hologram (“ordinary reality” pre-2026, of course).
Since the Quantum Hologram Revolution of 2027, VR took on a new edge. Knowing all of our reality is an illusion projected by the mind causes a mixture of joy, empowerment, fear, insecurity, and resistance. For the spiritually inclined, QHR was confirmation humans were microcosms of the creative cosmic force of evolution.
“If a man would be alone, let him look at the stars,” philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his 1836 essay, Nature. “The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches.” Emerson considered the stars, through their “perpetual presence of the sublime,” as portals to complete absorption with something greater than ourselves.
“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years,” he adds, “how would men believe and adore and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.”
Humans have gazed at the night’s sky in fascination for millenia. Its vastness, humbling. Its enigmatic expanse, awesome. Ancient civilisations, from the Mayans to the Babylonians, were starstruck and enchanted by the cosmos. The ancient Egyptians even used the stars to accurately align the Great Pyramids with the Earth’s four cardinal points.
I wonder what Emerson would think of modern culture. Common gaze is downcast, transfixed by admonishing smartphones. The stars’ sparkle is second-best. We don’t notice the great lengths they travel to illuminate the night’s sky. But the ancients prized something we fail to recognise. Stargazing is free therapy. And the cosmos reveals our true nature.