(To part 1)
The first step on the Way, whatever form and language this Way takes, is the understanding of the mechanisms of the confinement of consciousness by itself. This is intelligible information. In order to prepare for an escape, one must first carefully study the plan of the prison, its weak points, the rhythm of guard shifts, the days and hours of supply or transfer, etc., and know the rudiments of life outside the walls.
The second step is the painful feeling of the pressure of the ego, the intimate experience of its multifaceted hold and its consequences on the body, on emotions and on thoughts. This first-hand knowledge will give the intelligible information flavour, relief, colour. It animates it, gives it life, and arouses a powerful desire for liberation, a dynamic momentum. Without this animation, without this indispensable supplement of soul, without this emotion, this groundswell, purely intellectual understanding remains a dead letter, a superficial interest: it does not move anything, it does not set us in motion; it opens our eyes but we remain paralyzed. Reading an article about a famine or a dictatorship is not at all the same thing as undergoing them in the flesh. Information becomes clear consciousness through inner experience.
The third step is personal commitment to the Way, conscious and voluntary disobedience, on a daily basis, to the injunctions of the ego, based on understanding, self-knowledge and the aspiration for emancipation. It is a work of stripping away, of neutralizing automatisms, of abandoning oneself to the Way itself. The result is a kind of uncomfortable lightness, of liberating dispossession, but also an immense gratitude to be able to put an end to decades of self-slavery.
The fourth step follows quite naturally from the previous ones. It is a new, non-programmed attitude in the face of circumstances, events, encounters; an attitude, in all aspects of existence, that spontaneously takes into account the interest of the whole, of the common good that includes (but is not limited to) oneself. A lucid disinterestedness, a helpfulness free from all expectations.
The cultivation and blossoming of these four aspects of the Way opens the door to a new world, a previously unexplored field of consciousness. It is not a more or less distant field to the edge of which our journey would have led us. No, the new world has always been, still is, and will always be here. Simply, our previous state of consciousness, inappropriate because it was self-centered, denied us access to it. When the thick fog of ego-centrism dissipates, a new reality appears. It is not a “journey towards”, but a progressive elevation of the level of consciousness that opens up a completely different field of perception, allows its effective entry, and reveals a new capacity for action.
Dreaming of an equitable, non-violent society, based on respect for the common good and nature, remains a utopia if the question of ego is not resolved as a matter of priority. It is like designing a model sheepfold where the sheep could lead a happy, healthy, balanced and fulfilled life, without first considering the elimination of the wolf that inhabits it.
Destitution of the ego is the sine qua non for the resolution of the current multifaceted crisis. Insofar as this global crisis highlights the possibility of an imminent and violent extinction of the human species – an extinction due to the consequences of its way of thinking, desiring and acting, we can deduce that the awakening of a new consciousness freed from the automatisms of the ego, is a necessary step if we want to consider our collective survival. To paraphrase André Malraux: the human being of the 3rd millennium will be spiritual or will no longer be spiritual. This is our first and last responsibility. If we do not take on this task, then our efforts to preserve the planet and its humanity will be a vain, insufficient agitation.
Only the emergence of the new (and eternal!) paradigm outlined above, the silent and assiduous inner self-revolution, possibly hastened by the threatening end, will be capable of sowing the seeds of a civilizing renaissance that has been able to draw the consequences of the past, of the fundamental error of orientation for which we are both responsible and victims.
Our only choice, our only freedom lies in the attitude we adopt here today in the face of the uncertainty that characterizes our existence.
The society that surrounds us is a construction of which we are the living stones. If the stones are rotting, disintegrating, what’s the wonder that the construction collapses? It is not a new arrangement of the same stones that we urgently need today, but a radical transformation, a real mutation, a regeneration, a spiritual healing of these stones that we are. Only then can we speak of a whole new organization of humanity, a healthy, peaceful, inspired, loving, happy organization.
Ego-centrism – that disease of consciousness, that hallucinogenic drug that makes the human being able to believe that he is at the centre of everything, although unseen, unrecognized, dominates universally.
The much desired “solution” will not come from a new model of organization but lies in the (re)birth of a new man, a new woman, regenerated from within through intense, deep, sincere, persevering and uncompromising work on oneself. Not in an attempt to attain any goal, however praiseworthy it may be, but on the basis of an understanding, an aspiration and a distress rooted in the deepest part of the being, that abyss inaccessible to the ego; on the basis of a certainty that this is the only Way that you desire, must and can take, and on the basis of a genuine and desperate compassion for your suffering humanity.
As a human collectivity, we are dangerously close to an historic breaking point. The fatal wall is now very close, and we are accelerating every day. This situation – unprecedented in planetary history because it is global – where the activities of one species threaten the survival of all the others, including its own survival, is both frightening and exciting. For it obliges us, its perpetrators, to take the measure of our blindness, of our folly, to open our eyes and actively remedy it. We thus have the unprecedented “chance” of being, so to speak, forced to let go of our prerogatives, our erroneous and destructive conceptions of ourselves, of our fellow human beings and of the living, in order to finally make the quantum leap to which spiritual traditions have always invited us: to take the decisive step of a total revolution of consciousness, the only way out of the major problem that we have become as individuals and as a species. We are not facing a problem: we are the problem itself. All the other species still living on earth could testify to this if they were gifted with words!
The collision, the current clash – of which we are both witnesses and actors – opposes on the one hand our infinite aspiration to a world of Light, and on the other hand an apparent material world that is increasingly dark, heavy, complex, agitated, suffocating, unjust, inhuman, difficult to live in; on the one hand our thirst for a new humanity, turned towards the inner Source from which everything comes, and on the other hand an increasingly dense, crystallized ego-consciousness, tensed on its immediate concerns and interests, dominated by the fear of losing or missing, by its boundless greed for control, material possessions, pleasure and security. The current crisis is, in fact, the result of this inner division, of this deep tearing of the being that has become unbearable.
A new human being must be born, will be born, born by ourselves, totally cleansed of the dross of illusion and the devastating ego-centrism of reality. It can only be (re)born from the ashes of the ego. A path back to wisdom is no longer an option: it is the ultimatum that nature and our own material survival are giving us. At the edge of this path blossom and grow the flowers of common sense, sobriety, humility, knowledge and respect for the laws of life, awareness of the unity of all and of all, responsibility and compassion.