Miranda Macpherson answers the question:
What role does ego play in spirituality?
Watch Miranda Macpherson’s interview:
Thank you, Phil. It's good to be here.
Allow me to introduce you. Miranda Macpherson is a contemporary spiritual teacher, counselor and author of The Way of Grace: The Transforming Power of Ego Relaxation. Miranda has been teaching internationally since 1995. She is known for her depth of presence, clarity, and refined capacity to guide people into direct experience of the sacred. She is founder of One Spirit Interfaith Foundation in London, where she trained and ordained over 600 ministers. Today, Miranda leads the “Living Grace” sangha in northern California, and holds retreats internationally.
Miranda, what role does ego play in spirituality?
Well, there's a simple fact, which is that every human being has an ego, and there’s n way of getting around that. And so it's really a matter of how we relate to our ego, how we work with it, and and how we live our lives, how we practice our spiritual truth in and with our personality structure. So one of the confusions that I often see with aspirants on the path, is that they confuse surrender with surrender “up and over,” transcendence only.
And so often I have people coming to sit with me in the satsong chair, and we're starting to dig a little deeper, and of course they hit some veil, some obstacle. Perhaps it's fear, perhaps it's doubt, perhaps it's insecurity, perhaps it's some closure of the heart or pattern of judgment or anger. And they tend to dismiss it, "Oh, that's just my ego." Well, of course those things are your ego, because anything that causes your consciousness to contract is happening because of the way your ego took shape into some form or fixation.
And so the way I share spiritual truth with people is to invite them not to try to bat away, transcend, or annihilate their ego, which is so often the approach that has been taught and thought of for so many centuries. And I think part of that has to do with the fact that up until very, very recently, pretty much all spiritual teachings, east and west, have been given through the masculine lens only, that has cherished transcendence over imminence, and has tended to view the human ego as some troublesome thing that shouldn't be there.
So I think this has lent itself to some aggression on our humanity in the name of awakening, which often does not lead to much awakening. Or, it also engenders more resistance and causes even more spiritual pride at times. So the approach that I'm sharing is ego relaxation. And so it understands… ego relaxation understands that it's not about trying to become some transcendent, depersonalized nobody. It's really about letting the fixations of your personality, the ways that you are patterned, the ways that you have become automated or defensive, or anything less than fluid and free, to become understood, to be contacted with love, and to melt.
And so just in the same way as a hard block of ice, which is a bit like how I see our ego in its raw form until we've really worked with it and digested some of the fixations. It's like we're like this hard frozen block of ice. We're frozen in our fixations. We're frozen in fear that is based on something that happened in the past. We're frozen in a habit of control that has us contracted and defensive. We're frozen in some pattern that isn't really objectively true in the now. We can't help it sometimes.
And so what needs to happen is that we need to approach those places where we're frozen in our ego structure with compassion, with love, and with deep rigor and honesty, to see what is and see what isn't. And so that's really a process of presence and ego relaxation. And it's a practice that helps us to recognize that our ego doesn't have to be a problem. Really, it's a vehicle for life, ultimately. Our ego needs to become more transparent to its nature. So what do I mean by that? Well, just in the same way that a hard block of ice... the fundamental nature of ice is still water, only it's frozen and fixed — it's not fluid, and clear, and free.
And so the work is really about relaxing out of the fixations of our personality, relaxing and integrating those ways that we got patterned. And so as that happens, something really beautiful arises. We become more fully incarnate. We become more fully human and divine at the same time. We are able to be here in this ordinary human realm, capable of relating, and living, and serving, and really living a full human life, while being transparent, awake to our nature, and understanding of the ways in which our personality developed.
And so in this way our ego can actually serve as a vehicle for life. All of our past experiences, the beautiful experiences, and the very difficult experiences when we have allowed them to be digested, actually birth deeper wisdom further into life. And so I think this is such an important revelation for everybody because it helps us to embrace every part of our experience as part of God, which it always has been anyway. What most people don't understand is that the actual fabric of their ego is part of the fabric of God. Everything that is, is happening within the one fabric of being. And that fabric is divine fabric.
So when we understand this, we have much more breadth, depth, and kindness with which to work honestly and compassionately with the things that are difficult for us, the things that we stumble over… while it's not pandering to them, not having to be caught in that fixation forever. So I don't know whether this has answered your question, but I hope that we've gotten close. Do you want to ask me anything more about what I've said?
No, I think you've covered it beautifully. I think that's a succinct summation of what people can expect from your book, The Way of Grace. And your work. So thank you so much for sharing your insight and wisdom with us today, Miranda.
You're welcome. And I really, really hope that if people have liked this, that they will really take a look at this beautiful book that I've written. It's exquisite, and there's so many practical things about how you can come into this experience for yourself. And we also are offering all sorts of great stuff on my Facebook page, which is Miranda Macpherson Teachings. We even have a book study group going on there. So I hope people will relish that, appreciate it, enjoy it, participate in it. And together, as we learn to really be with all aspects of our experience, as part of the divine experience, that our world becomes filled with more graceful human beings. That is my prayer anyway, so thank you.
Thank you so much, Miranda. And thank you for sharing your book as well. And thank you for making time with us while you're on vacation.
I appreciate it.
Thank you. Bye-bye, now.
Miranda Macpherson is a contemporary spiritual teacher, counselor, and author of The Way of Grace: The Transforming Power of Ego Relaxation.
Miranda, who also authored the spiritual guidebook, Boundless Love, has been teaching internationally since 1995. She is known for her depth of presence, clarity, and refined capacity to guide people into direct experience of the sacred.
Miranda’s work is a synthesis of self-inquiry, spiritual psychology, devotion, and meditation practice offered with feminine grace that embraces our everyday human experience as a gateway into the depths of our true nature. Through a blend of silent transmission and articulate teaching, she leads ongoing programs oriented to guiding people into direct spiritual experience while providing a practical map for actualizing our realization into daily life.
Drawing from the ancient lineages of Advaita and mystical Christianity, as well as from more recent wisdom teachings such as A Course in Miracles, Miranda leads from the ground of unconditional love and compassion for our humanity, emphasizing receptivity, discrimination, and surrender.
She is founder of One Spirit Interfaith Foundation in London, where she trained and ordained over 600 ministers. Today, Miranda leads the “Living Grace” sangha in northern California and holds retreats in the United States and internationally. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Bob Duchmann, a teacher of the Diamond Approach (A.H. Almaas’ Ridhwan School).
Click here to visit Miranda’s website and to sign up for her free newsletter. You will also find a virtual “sanctuary” on Miranda’s website where you can download an abundance of audio meditations as well as audio and video teachings.
Click here to visit Miranda’s Facebook page, “Miranda Macpherson Teachings.”
Click here to watch Miranda’s January 2018 video interview in Catalyst on “Living the Embodiment of Grace.”
Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in: 2018 Catalyst, Issue 25: Perspectives on Spirituality