Confusing Spiritual Awakening with Self Improvement

Will self development, deprogramming and mastering the mind get rid of the ego? If not, what’s the point?

Self development doesn’t lead to spiritual enlightenment. They are not the same thing and one is not the path to the other.

Your ego is not the enemy. It’s a useful tool, only you don’t realize it’s just a tool and so rather than using it, you let it use you. Upgrading your ego isn’t going to lead to enlightenment, but it will make your life a lot easier.

Let’s examine why mastering the mind and emotions is important, even if it doesn’t lead to enlightenment.

What would it be like to be rid of all mental programs? Is this something we can hope to achieve? 

A reader interested in taking the Mastery course asked me if it was possible to be completely free of mental programs, and if the course material was designed to achieve this complete freedom from programs. They said they were seeking Truth, and that their notion of Truth was to be able to perceive unfiltered reality.

This is such an important question, and it expresses some basic confusion about your mental apparatus vs your being — being a professional human vs spiritual awakening.

They are not the same. 

And yet…this confusion persists. Why? Because you fully identify with your Synthetic Self, your Persona, your Ego, or whatever you prefer to call it. I call mine the Synth or sometimes my Avatar. 

Let’s look at this more deeply. 

Who are you? No, really

Don’t just spout off stuff you’ve learned or read or heard about who you are. It’s not intellectual — it’s immediate, right now, your lived reality. Take a minute to wake yourself up to full attention, all the lucidity you can bring to bear, cut the crap and just…

have a look. 

Go on, I’ll wait.


So, what did you find when you stopped intellectualizing or repeating your rote spiritual learning about what you are. When you actually look and inquire with a fresh, lucid mind, what’s there? What are you? Or who are you? In your actual lived experience, right now, who are you really

That is to say, where is your identification rooted.

You can learn from spiritual study that you are some vast, all that is, divine consciousness. And perhaps there are fleeting moments when you experience it rather than just think about it. But if your identification isn’t rooted there, it’s not where your consciousness is. 

Let me make this more tangible by example: a man who is psychotic and is suffering from a delusion that he is dead (yes, this particular mental illness actually exists) will live from that reality, from that misidentification. It doesn’t matter that he is clearly and demonstrably alive. It seems totally preposterous to you and me that this should ever be the case, especially since it is clear as day that this man is alive.

And up until the point where this man started suffering from the delusion of being dead, until that very moment, he knew that dead people couldn’t walk around and do stuff — in other words, he possessed an accurate understanding of the difference between living people and corpses. So it’s not just a matter of correcting a factual understanding or a knowledge gap. 

Perhaps you might even be able to get him to intellectually, logically agree that he can’t be dead, and yet that intellectual understanding doesn’t penetrate to his lived and felt experience, to his essential orientation

Because of this essential orientation, his entire world view, self image and calibration of both the world and himself in it is done through this identification with being dead.  

The trouble is, you can’t see the delusion because you’re so deeply identified with it.

If you, like just about every other person on earth, have your identification rooted in the Synth, then you can’t even see it. Sure, we can talk about it and we can set up a retreat in the jungle or on the beach or in some monastery in the Himalayas and indoctrinate you on the true nature of consciousness, the bodhi nature, unfiltered truth and whatnot. But it remains aspirational, something you need to work toward, and not your daily lived experience. 

Your daily lived experience is rooted in the Synthetic Self, the Persona, the Story Of You. In short, you are living under the delusion that you are the Synthetic Self. And this delusion is so profound that you cannot actually see it. It is how you understand yourself, it is how you orient yourself. It is so basic that you cannot perceive it.

Even as I’m telling you this and you intellectually nod your head, “yep, I see it, sure…that’s the delusion.” The truth of this, the simple, direct and consciousness altering reality of this does not penetrate beyond the most superficial mental layer.

Your Synthetic Self is a really cool tool you can use to explore the Human Matrix. 

If you’ve read enough of my writing, you will be familiar with this idea. I’ve repeated it enough. Your Synth is a hardware/software package. Like a smart phone…there’s the thing you hold, tap and talk into, there’s an operating system (OS) and there are programs (apps) that make it do specific things. 

Your smart phone is pretty cool, right? For those of you who lived as adults when there weren’t even mobile phones of any kind, let alone smart phones, you also know you can live without it. You got on just fine when no such things existed. But hey, you’ve got one now and it is very useful. 

Except when it’s not. It comes with all kinds of default settings that may not really be the best for you. A lot of times it comes bloated with adware or apps that just take up a lot of storage space but don’t provide any benefit to you. It can be infected with spyware, malware or even be hacked and then used to victimize you. 

And a lot of these apps and even the basic UX is deliberately designed to addict you, make you dependent on that next dopamine hit, which allows you to be used by the app developers — so in the end it’s more accurate to say the tool uses you rather than you consciously choosing to use the tool only for what will truly benefit your life.

Most of you are just a user of this hardware, OS and software, not the creator, not the programmer. 

can I ever completely remove all these mental programs? 

What would happen if you removed all the software, all the programs from your computer? Just think about that. If the programs are causing you all these problems, is the solution to remove all the programs and be “program free”? Does that sound awesome? Liberating? Would you then experience the Truth, or unfiltered reality? 

No. Your computer would just be a useless brick. 

This is reality: your Synth is really nothing but programming. That’s it. It’s this awesome tool that is made up of some hardware and programming. 

Your Persona is made up of nothing but programs and data storage (memory). Apps that you can kind of see in action because they perform obvious functions and you interact with them consciously, and others that operate on a deeper level of programming that have to do with survival and systems maintenance and admin. Most of your default programming is created during childhood and perhaps added to once in a while during important or traumatic events as you get older…but almost all of this just happens according to the default mode. Which isn’t terrible, darling. It’s gotten you this far.

So far, this is still pretty much the amateur human, operating on automatic default mode.

I hope I’ve made it clear that the goal isn’t to get rid of all the programs. The programs and the settings can be (and should be) continuously customized, removed if they are no longer wanted, upgraded to the next version and once in a while you will even have the opportunity to upgrade your OS. 

This is the difference between being a pro human vs amateur. It’s the difference between mastery (which is a lifelong activity, not a destination) and running on factory default settings, or autopilot. 

Sound good? Sure, but it’s a lifelong process and not something you do for a span of time and then graduate. No one thinks they can update their software and then never have to think of it again. It’s something you are always doing, always learning how your system works, what the deeper levels of programming entail, constantly working to keep your system secure from hackers. So mastery is something you learn how to do, a skill you then constantly hone and apply and learn through that application and real world testing. 

If you dedicate yourself to being a professional human, will this practice of mastery result in liberation? In seeing the True, unfiltered reality? 


And this is the crux of it. We’re getting back to the question of who you are, which is really to say, who you believe you are and where your consciousness is rooted.

The Synth is a tool. It can no more perceive ultimate reality than your smart phone. Or your toaster. Or your car. 

But since your consciousness is rooted in this tool, you are under the profound and invisible-to-you delusion that you are the tool. You orient your understanding of yourself and reality from this starting point, which leads you to logically follow: I am the Synth, the Synth (I) am full of buggy outdated software programs, if I make my programming pristine and updated and super functional I (the Synth) will perceive unfiltered reality, the Truth. 

Thy Synth is improved, but never liberated. It is a tool. It is not capable of such a thing as liberation or perceiving unfiltered reality. You are capable, but your sewing machine, mobile phone, hair dryer or Synth are not — they are tools. 

Enlightenment and self mastery are not the same thing. People often confuse one for the other, or mistake them for being the same subject.

When you cease to live under the all pervading and profound delusion that you are your Synth, you will see reality directly. Just like that. Even if you have the most buggy outdated and ugliest programming on your Synth. Because the functionality of your Synth is not related or relevant in any way to perceiving unfiltered reality.

You believe you are the Synth. You wish to perceive unfiltered reality. Since you think you are the Synth, you think this is accomplished through the Synth. Either making it better or wiping all the programming off — whatever the course of action, it happens through and to the Synth, because you believe this is what you are.

But this in itself is the delusion that prevents you from perceiving reality directly.

Do you see the circular nature of this? Truly perceiving, directly, simply and permanently that you are not the Synth is what allows you to see reality directly.

The Synth doesn’t look at itself through some kind of practice or introspection or method and discover that it is only a tool. You, in one nano second, just suddenly and spontaneously, see this. Not intellectually. Not temporarily. Not because you took some Amazonian witch brew. Not because you had some wicked intense spiritual experience at the darshan of some guru.

For some reason, you suddenly see that you are not the Synth, and from the cessation of that delusion and misplaced identification, you see the truth, permanently. It’s as though your whole life you looked at this dark shadowy shape in a dark room and believed it was a snake. One day the light comes on in the room and you see it’s not a snake. After this, what do you do? Do you even give it another thought? Do you run around letting everyone know you no longer think there is a snake in the corner? No. You just see it plainly, perhaps laugh your ass off that you ever thought it was a snake, and then you just go about living your life.

I woke from my delusion and saw I was not the ego mind. I cannot tell you how or why this happened, and so there is no way to tell you how to do this neat trick for yourself. 

I also perceived my Synth to be buggy and vulnerable to hackers from a very early age, in my teens. So I started exploring ways to deprogram my default childhood programming, remove malware, level up my firewalls and work with the system to make it not only more functional, but hopefully, as I continue the endeavor, a work of art.

This is something that can be learned and the learning is lifelong. You learn how to learn it, practice it in real time, test the results in real time, customize it, and so on.

This is super useful, and once you get through the first (often yucky) level of clearing out old programs, upgrading programs, it’s actually kind of fun. You can often find me Under the Hood of Amara, tweaking this or that, trying out something new, cleaning out any debris I find.

I think it’s worthwhile. Once you realize you are not your Synth, there really is no need to throw out the Synth because the Synth was never the problem.

The delusion itself was the impediment to seeing reality, not the object of the delusion.

If someday you do this thing we call “waking up” or spiritual awakening, guess what? You’ll still have an ego!

It might get wiped out a bit in the process, but unless you’re going to be a hermit or a guru with devotees around you to take care of practical life stuff, you’ll probably need to use this tool again.

And if it’s still running buggy old programs or heaven forbid, doesn’t have military grade security, you’re going to run into “situations”. So from my experience, getting serious about this very powerful and really useful bit of tech I call the Synth is not even up for debate. In my life, it’s just an obvious necessity.

So this is kind of amusing, but very true:

You can do the Wake Up thing and see reality directly and live from that state, and yet you have a seriously impaired Synth and so you’re still a dysfunctional dick when you relate to people. You have all these situations that arise from not getting your Synth in hand, and you don’t bother because you’ve realized you’re not your Synth and so maybe this is really not a priority for you. People around you may really be convinced that you are enlightened, and yet can’t figure out why you’re still a jerk in such peculiar ways sometimes.

Also, it may be that you never Wake Up and still live firmly under the delusion that you are the Synth, and yet you’ve dedicated yourself to mastery of your Synth. You’re really a cool person, you like and feel good about yourself, you are your own best friend. Your life is going well, and your relationships are healthy and fulfilling and people see you as kind and wise and generous and trustworthy — a person of integrity. A beautiful soul.

Also, you can do the Whoa! I Woke Up! thing and see reality directly, and you’ve been working all along on mastering your Synth because even when you were under the delusion that you were the Synth, you knew that it was desirable to have control over it rather than going through life on default mode. So now you’re awake and you also have a well-functioning Synth, and you’ve practiced over the years the skills to update and program it yourself. So you can continue to do so, but now with the liberation of not living from that foundational delusion. You are awake and also a wise, loving person with good boundaries and the infrastructure that supports healthy, fulfilling relationships.

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