Did you play Snakes and Ladders (or Chutes and Ladders) as a child? It is a modern version of the original Hindu board game known as Moksha Patan, or the “Ladder of Liberation,” which was aimed to reflect the game of hide-and-seek Divine Consciousness plays within the human mind.
In the original game, you move through 9 or 10 rows of squares as you attempt to go up toward your goal, which is the square of Liberation. If you land on a spot like, say, Humility, an arrow shoots you to higher levels; but if you land on a square with a snake head (like Arrogance or Anger), then you slide down its tail to a lower spot. (See Are You Developing a Spiritualized Ego? to learn more about it.)
It takes quite some time to finish the game, as you go up and down different states of awareness. In this sense, it is like your life-movie, since your mental-emotional states fluctuate according to how you react to your external reality. And, like in the game, you win when you develop enough self-awareness and dispassion so as to not follow the negative tendencies that bring you down.
I equate this process to climbing the Love-Consciousness Pyramid, which is a concept I introduced in You Are Your Healer to illustrate the road map we all travel toward spiritual maturity, both through our soul journey and during each incarnation. I’d like to give you a brief overview so you may stop spinning in lower levels of awareness and love.
There is no self-awareness at the very bottom of the Pyramid, where the most destructive tendencies predominate. Base passions such as greed, lust, jealousy, arrogance, anger, and hatred rule the mind, leading to the impulse to lie, steal, cheat, abuse, exploit, and kill. There is no empathy or discrimination, due to a complete entrapment in ego—or ignorance of the Inner Self—which creates the illusion that the purpose of life is enjoying sensual pleasure, money, and power.
Clearly, this illusion pervades the external world, through the ego’s constant craving for experience, but at the bottom of the Pyramid there is no other aim but the satisfaction of base urges. Since such behavior promotes toxic, karmic dynamics that tend to repeat over many births, in a vicious circle of painful, traumatic upbringings and harmful habits, it takes a while to start seeking a way out of suffering.
You Gain Emotional Freedom As You Know Yourself
You are not at the bottom anymore, or you wouldn’t be reading this, but situations that trigger intense anger, jealousy, or passion can bring you there, even if momentarily. Hard drugs and excess alcohol may do this as well, for they block the discrimination of the higher mind. Also, any negative emotion with which you identify can pull you down at any moment, if you stop seeing yourself or others with compassion. You may not steal from or kill, but you can sabotage your relationships or your dreams with impulsive reactions, thus letting the ego-mind kill your joy and enthusiasm to the point of despair, depression, or self-harm.
Seeking a way out of suffering is what prompts us all to move upward, at least until we start embracing higher principles to live by. However, it’s a long, treacherous process, because the self-centeredness of your ego produces the idea that other people should meet your needs and desires to make your life easier. Everyone holds this egoic idea as well, so it creates power dynamics and resentment. These keep you going up and down the Pyramid for a long while until you realize that nobody is responsible for your own happiness but you.
You begin looking for guidance to better understand yourself and the purpose of your life. This builds momentum to move up the Love-Consciousness Pyramid. When your desire for clarity intensifies, your efforts may activate positive soul memories and tendencies from previous births. If self-awareness increases, you begin discovering deeper dimensions of yourself and longing for greater insight and freedom.
But, as you move forward, your ego-mind triggers resistance, disrupting your progress at every opportunity. It may cloud your perception with painful emotions, unfulfilled desires, or regrets, creating discontentment and dissatisfaction. Or if may become spiritualized, making you feel special or superior or “different,” which is a sneaky way to produce a sense of isolation while reinforcing a hidden need for validation.
Your ego has access to all your subconscious content, and it finds innumerable ways to distract you from delving more deeply within, in an attempt to remain in control of your perception and behavior, thus dragging you to lower levels of awareness. You pierce through this resistance with ongoing self-awareness and a sincere yearning for inner freedom.
You Gain Spiritual Freedom As You Dissolve Your Ego
If you’re persistent, you start developing greater tolerance, patience, and compassion, while trying to avoid conflicts, being less judgmental, and creating more community or togetherness. The key to continue your way up toward your true Self is surrendering your ego (your self-centeredness) by developing detachment and mental discipline.
Eventually, you feel more at peace with yourself and the world by accepting life as it is, understanding that you have taken life too seriously and too personally for your own good; that your attachments and identifications, as well as your need to control, have led only to suffering in both obvious and subtle forms.
As you keep climbing the Pyramid, with awareness and love, your perception shifts, along with your experience of reality, and you start letting go of the false ideas and illusions that have kept you at lower levels. For instance, the ideas of “good” and “evil,” of judgment and salvation, of controlling life or fixing the world, as well as the need to be right, useful, needed, important, and so on, which perpetuates the egoic power dynamics you’re trying to break free from.
Higher up on the Love-Consciousness Pyramid, there is greater dispassion and inner peace. Introspection, discipline, and the study and reflection on the truth are prioritized above group dynamics or the need for validation. Any activity is pursued for its own sake, with no expectations or attachment. Old mental-emotional patterns get weaker, while clarity and devotion increase, and a state of witnessing emerges, leading to meditative, blissful, or superconscious states during and beyond a daily meditation practice.
In time, these yield inner silence and peace. At the very top of the Pyramid, which can only be reached through Grace, the Inner Self recognizes the ego-mind as a mere illusion, which dissolves the identification with it. All mental imprints and tendencies based on the self-centered idea of individuality and free will (“This is my life, my choice, my experience,” etc.) roast in the light of Pure Awareness, purifying the mind completely and melting the ego-self—the sense of individuality or separation from the Divine.
There’s no better way to make progress on the spiritual path than to comprehend how the ego-mind works. Spirituality is self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is knowledge of the ego; since it dissolves as you investigate it, the process leads to Self-realization. After all, your ego is made of false identifications or ideas about yourself.
But it is also a mobile, shape-shifting trickster that blocks your inner path by fixating on everything else and triggering subconscious negative tendencies. So grab a copy of You Are Your Healer: The Ultimate Guide to Heal Your Past, Transform Your Life & Awaken to Your True Self to master the ego-mind that disconnects you from the peace, love, and happiness you yearn for!
© 2022 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.