The Healthy Self
(Posted on: May 1, 2013 by David McMillin)
That it, the entity, may KNOW itself to BE itself and part of the Whole; not the Whole but one WITH the whole; and thus retaining its individuality, knowing itself to be itself yet one with the purposes of the First Cause that called it, the entity, into BEING, into the awareness, into the consciousness of itself. That is the purpose, that is the cause of BEING. (826-11)
If the self is defined in relationship, what is the optimal relationship? If our concept of God is loving parent, what does that say about individual humans as children of God and the optimal relationship. Should each soul be totally dependent upon God? If we are going to use the parent-child relationship as an analogy for our relationship with God, we need to recognize that children grow up and relationships change.
As we have seen in the video overview and some of the exercises for this lesson, relationships are at the core of who we are as souls. Thus we can know ourselves through relationship.
The dynamics of healthy relationships require that we have a healthy sense of self. We need the capacity to express own uniqueness. We need the freedom of empowerment in using will to make choices that define our individuality.
From a psychological perspective, the sense of self and ability to thrive in relationship is formed early in life as a child. Typically this occurs in the context of the parent/child relationship. To be sure, in some cultures children are raised as part of a collective, such as in a tribe where multiple adults take responsibility for raising the children of the tribe. But the dynamics are essentially the same: babies are dependent upon adults for everything; as the child grows and develops, it is still highly dependent but begins to gain skills and a sense of its own self as it ages. If the development is normal and healthy, at some point the child develops to a level of maturity to be regarded as an adult and the cycle continues.
While the child will always be a son or daughter of its parents, the relationship changes over time until the child is essentially an equal to the parent. This pattern of growth and development is important to recognize in our Search For God because the parent/child relationship is sometimes used as an analogy of the relationship between the Creator and the created.
The parent/child model is particularly prominent in Christianity where God is portrayed as a heavenly father. Humans are children in the family of God, and so forth. The Cayce readings explicitly recognize and endorse this concept of God as loving father.
Some may take offense at projecting gender on the Divine and even the Cayce readings make reference to “Father-Mother God,” (i.e., 281-39, 281-65, 603-3, 1504-1). We will take a closer look at various “concepts of God” in a later lesson (God’s Manifestation in SFG 2), but for the purposes of understanding ourselves in relationship, let’s focus on God as a loving parent.
The analogy actually holds up quite well in terms of soul development. As a child (or an adult with a childlike innocence), our relationship to God emphasizes dependence and obedience.
In healthy human development, as the individual matures there is less dependence upon adults/parents and yet there must still be a sense of obedience to the laws of the group or collective, whether in morality or the civil laws of the land. No man is an island. We are all part of the social collective.
As a mental health professional, that’s one of the things that I have always appreciated about the Cayce readings. The principles in the readings make for good mental health and are consistent with the best that psychology and psychiatry have discovered for what makes for good mental hygiene.
If you are having trouble grasping this concept, just look at it from a pathological perspective. Imagine a child that is dependent upon its parents and never grows up – is always dependent upon its parents or other adults. Imagine parents that would attempt to keep their children in that state of dependence, either to maintain power or to feel good about themselves. I think most of us have seen such interpersonal patterns in those around us at times. We may have even been involved in such unhealthy relationships.
The point is that as we grow up to be fit companions and co-creators with the Divine, we are allowed to have a healthy sense of self. It’s about relationships and self-knowledge. Knowing ourselves as individuals in relation to God and others is what it really means to “know thyself.”
Maintaining a healthy, separate sense of self while also being connected and responsive to those around us is one of the greatest challenges of life. This is the dance of relationship that gives meaning to life.
That this dynamic has its source in the realm of spirit – in the creation of souls by God is one of the most startling and powerful ideas put forth in the Cayce readings. The purpose of life is about relationship. Healthy relationship requires both separation and connection – to know yourself to be yourself as a separate being, and yet be connected to the whole.
To be sure, some religious and philosophical traditions take a very dim view of the separate sense of self. The "self" may even be regarded as inherently flawed. In some theological doctrines, the entire human race has even been cast in the role of sinful, wretched creatures deserving an eternity burning in hell. That’s pretty dark. So, the challenge of knowing self in a healthy sense can be a struggle, particularly if early childhood environmental religious influences were biased toward a negative self-image.
In this context, the term "ego" is sometimes used in a negative sense – as inherently flawed and evil. This is not the position taken in the Cayce readings (or mainstream psychology for that matter). To provide a balanced view on the role of "ego" I have put together a collection of excerpts from the Cayce readings that discuss ego as an essential aspect of the soul self – the "I Am" within that is the core healthy self (see the Resource section below).
If you would like to pursue a deeper exploration of “The Healthy Self” concept, there is a resource link below to a video derived from a presentation given in 2011 at Asilomar in California. The audio was recorded and the Powerpoint slides provide a visual context for the content (1 hour and 8 minutes in length). It should cover everything you might want to know about "The Healthy Self" in relationship to God and others.
Here are some of the characterististics of The Healthy Self that are covered in the lecture linked below:
The Healthy Self
- Knows itself (self knowledge & awareness)
- Has an identity and boundaries
- Is connected to others and God
- Uses the will constructively to express itself
- Takes responsibility for itself
- Expresses individuality through personality
- Grows and develops through challenges
- Is true to itself and it’s ideals (authenticity)
- Is not selfish, rather selfless in giving
- The Healthy Self – This video comes from a lecture I gave at Asilomar in 2011. The audio was recorded and I inserted my Powerpoint slides over the audio track to create a video. It is a pretty thorough analysis of the healthy sense of self that the Cayce readings advocated with the phrase know yourself to be yourself, but one with God, one with the whole.
- Ego And The Search for God – A member of the online A Search For God (ASFG) study group (who was also a student of A Course In Miracles – ACIM) asked for an explanation of "ego" as it pertains to ACIM and the Cayce readings. My reply compares the meaning of ego in these two approaches to spirituality.
- The Meaning of Soul – This series of replies focused on what the soul is and its relevance to Know Thyself.
- Reading Excerpts on Ego – Below is a collection of excerpts from the Cayce readings that discuss ego. To be sure, many readings do point out the shortcomings of selfish, personal ego (self-centeredness). But it is important to point out that the ego is not inherently bad or evil. Only when it is selfish and rebellious does it present a problem. Furthermore, a healthy ego (sense of self) is essential for full companionship with God and others, as noted very eloquently in the excerpts below:
The choice, the self, the ego of each soul is that expression, that stamp, that image of the Creative Force, of the energy, of the God; which, is as the gift of God, making each individual entity aware, or conscious of itself and all its abilities to choose, to think this or that, to choose this direction or that direction. (2990-2)
As has been given from time immemorial, seek to know thyself. Not as an egotist but the ego within self, the I AM consciousness … (440-20)
For while we find body, mind and soul are phases of the experiences of an entity in materiality, these are but the manners through which the real ego or I Am manifests. (1648-1)
The will then to do, to be one with that Creative Force and thus fulfill the purposes for which the entity entered this present sojourn, is an evidence of the conditions just stated, if one accepts the fact that God is and that the ego, the thought of self is His offspring. This is the accepting of the fact that ye always were, ye always will be; dependent upon the relationship or upon what ye do with thy will. (3376-2)
For the imprint, the soul, the spirit of each entity is a part of that great whole, that "I AM" by which the individual ego would seek to pattern itself. (1796-1)
KNOW, self is the only excuse. Self is the only sin; that is, selfishness – and all the others are just a modification of that expression of the ego. But so close is the ego, the I Am, to the GREAT I AM, THAT I AM, that the confusions of duty and privilege and opportunity become so enmeshed in the experience of the entity. (1362-1)
So, the activity should be such that the self, the ego, the I AM would present same to the God, the Father, the Universal Influence, the Creative Energy, the I AM THAT I AM, in such measures and manners as to be a glorifying of that the body, the entity, the soul would present as its portion of the whole. (262-87)
Personalities always cause contention, confusion. For, there is ever present in the mind of EVERY individual his own ego, his own I AM. When these are at variance, they cause the personality of every individual to become confused – one with another. (1931-4)
In ANY influence, will – a self, the ego, the I Am – is the greater force TO be dealt with … (311-3)
Or, as we have given as to how a soul becomes conscious, aware, of its contact with the universal-cosmic-God-Creative forces in its experience; by feeding upon the food, the fruits, the results of spirit, of God, of Life, of Reality: Love, hope, kindness, gentleness, brotherly love, patience. THESE make for the awareness in the soul of its relationship to the Creative force that is manifest in self, in the ego, in the I AM of each soul, and of I AM THAT I AM. (378-14)
The crown of life here means being aware of those abilities within self to know that the self, the ego, the I, is in accord with, is aware of, the divine protection that has and does come to each and every soul that fulfills its mission in any experience. (442-3)
The TEMPLE, then, is of the God-portion of every entity, and there the spirit of truth, of helpfulness, of hopefulness, may meet with self, the ego, the I AM, that is of the Creative Forces – THROUGH the MENTAL application of self. (516-3)
(Q) Who comes to me when my consciousness is partially submerged, and how can I be receptive to, or understand their message?
(A) Who better than thy better self, or that thou hast been or hast taught or thought in thine inner self? It is the remembering, as it were, the vision of thine inner self. What more wonderful can there be than to know that self's own ego, self's own I AM with the spirit of truth and life, has made aware within self that thou hast been called by name? (707-2)
These, while not all, give an outline of reactions of this particular entity from the astrological aspects, – though not in the term that is oft used, for these are only urges. And what one does about an urge in relationship to that the innate soul or ego has chosen for its ideal depends upon whether there is growth or retardment in the experience of the entity. (1942-3)
This body has long suffered from loneliness within. This, then, has been the submerging of the ego, or self within. This when aroused by spiritual, mental or material things, becomes rather as a shock – to the mental self. For the body in its mental self is well balanced. But to have that balance out of line gives to the physical a different approach to all the experiences of the body. Thus the emotional or nervous upsets. (3102-1