The Depths of the Inner Sea

A brief story of awakening told with my own selection of cartons by Michael Leunig, a brilliant and soulful cartoonist.

Most of us begin our journey towards peace, liberation and fulfilment from the perspective of the ego, which is a self-perpetuating cognitive process, a control system within the mind that falls for the illusion that it is the whole being. Egos not only form within human minds but also within organisations and societies. They formulate desires, fears and agendas, all from their perspective. They then set about trying to use the whole system as a vehicle with which to pursue their agendas.

Ignorant of the vast complexity of the whole system, the ego manipulates the surface play of the mind in order to pursue its agendas, oblivious to the fact that it is oppressing the organism.

When I awoke this morning exhausted from my rest a demon dark and terrible was sitting on my chest.

He pinned me to the mattress and seized me by the head he pressed his knees against my heart and overturned the bed.

He dragged me to the mirror and showed me my disgrace then took a razor in his claw and dragged it down my face.

Some faded rags he bound around my shoulders and my hips and poured a cup of steaming muck between my faded lips.

And then he took those wilted lips and in his evil style he paralysed the corners up into a pleasant smile.

A masterpiece in wickedness this last sadistic joke he sends my out into the world a smiling sort of bloke.

It's not that the ego is fundamentally a demon, its just that the ego usually doesn't know any better and this is how things can often seem to the organism. If there was more recognition and cooperation things would be very different.

What is it that maintains the ego's warped sense of 'normality' in the face of the signals that the organism keeps sending it?

The great dividing wall came down but it hasn't gone away;

It lies flat on the surface now to keep what's beneath at bay.

And what's below our surface has become the “other side”;

More dreadful that the communists across the old divide.

Yes the wall's been repositioned and it's thick and strong and flat;

To keep us from the awful things swept underneath the mat.

See the article on Ego Defence Mechanisms for more.

This situation leads to emptiness in life, lack of vitality and inspiration, and a gnawing feeling of tension and unease. The ego feels like it is suspended above a vast chasm reaching down into the depths, the depths of consciousness. The ego regularly descends into those depths in the form of dreams and deep sleep but upon waking the ego re-emerges. It fears those depths because they are beyond its control, so it forces its version of 'normality' onto life and denies the existence of the depths.

Yet again you wake at 3 A.M. THE HOUR OF BLACK TRUTH.

While you were sleeping all meaning has collapsed now only darkness exists.

Poor little plankton of the night, you have been swallowed by the great whale of DOOM.

Down, down. Down you go into SHEER FUTILITY. "It's all impossible" you groan. Then you disintegrate into unconsciousness.

7.30 A.M. finds you at the table reconstructing your personality, rebuilding civilisation. This takes half an hour.

At eight o'clock, like a prayer, the cup of tea rises to your lips. A bird sings. The whale of doom is now a sardine on toast.

From the perspective of the ego, what can it do to get beyond this wall of self-denial and enter the 'basement' – the depths of the mind? How can it reconnect with the whole system? To escape the trap of delusional normality it must overcome its fear of the depths. It must be courageous and enter upon the inner journey of self-discovery.

He was a sailor but the sea was not around him; it was inside him!

A vast deep ocean inside him and on it his heart was adrift and alone.

Powerful currents pulled him this way and that; pulled him off course.

Wild storms when sick and afraid he held on for dear life.

Calm days when he drifted in peace.

Still nights when he steered by the stars and heard angels sing across the water.

How long he had sailed, how little he understood the sea.

In the dark depths, unknown to him, mysterious black shapes glided and prowled.

He was a sailor and the sea was inside him!

The ego is the sailor and the ocean is consciousness. To find peace the ego must go beyond the surface and enter the depths.

Things were getting too fast; too careless; too dangerous. People were breaking up and breaking down. The footpath was dividing and crumbling. He was afraid.

He lost his nerve. He tripped and stumbled. He cried out and fell back; backward into his own mouth; down into his deep cry for help.

Down and down he fell, swallowed up by his own darkness. Deeper and deeper; darker and darker until he lost consciousness.

And there he dreamed of a woman who embraced him completely; who bathed him peacefully; who blessed him simply.

He awoke and arose in the sunlight from out of the back of his trousers. Totally refreshed; utterly secure; perfectly serene.

It was definitely a strange situation and there was still much work to be done but he felt sure that life was on the mend.

Once the inner struggle is resolved, only then is there any hope that the outer struggle can be resolved.

What is 'globalisation'?

That's when a woman in New York, a man in Hobart, a child in Oslo, a canary in Milan, an old lady in Peru, a dolphin off the coast of Madagascar, all share the same anxiety and the same despair for the same reason at the same time.

Liberation is never of the ego but from the ego. It is the egoic state of being that is the cause of the strife in the world. The more egos that delve into the inner sea and overcome themselves, the better the world will be.

To the memory of those who faced their inner demons in the great struggle for peace and freedom.

These issues are not easy for the ego to face, but there is no way around them. It is not easy being told this, it is not a pleasant realisation for the ego, but it is the truth.

If I could be a lovely chap,
Life would fall into my lap,
And all my words would sound so nice,
You'd want to hear me say them twice.

But what I want to say to you,
Is only what I think is true,
And so, alas, I'll always be,
A rather unattractive me.

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Story told by John Ringland