In a personal letter, my nephew Dusty wrote, 'My quest has many parallels with yours, and I feel this most strongly right now as my entire focus is very simple: the practice of the presence of God....'
My response to Dusty is reprinted here, with permission.
The practice of the presence of God is the summation and crowning of human purpose. You express it so beautifully, which is not surprising as you are a beautiful soul.
I am on a course of avoiding the expression of opinion and instead sharing observation, perspective and experience. Lines of distinction between these are often crossed, such as when observation is defended and becomes opinion.
As an aside, I find it interesting that opinion is an idea formed without precise knowledge and prejudice is a judgment formed without precise knowledge. But then, what knowledge isn't incomplete? So long as I am aware of the incompleteness of knowledge it is manageable. When I act as though incomplete knowledge is the whole truth, trouble begins.
Getting past that aside, what I share is true for me at this time, but I cannot say what is true for another. To respond to your letter:
As I observe myself, in earlier times I sought to die to Ego. But I found that focus on removing Ego from my experience only strengthened its effects. That learning brought clarity about what Ego means to me and how it can be recognized. Rather than fight Ego, I now accept it for what it is. My approach has softened. I rarely use the word Ego anymore, and instead think and express in terms of 'what I am' and 'who I am'. It is conceptual, perhaps, but in practice has proven to be a more efficient use of energy.
I no longer have to fight with my Ego and struggle with doing what I hate to do. I no longer (or rarely) hate actions, mine or others. Ego, the small self, is part of 'who I am.' I simply choose to live from 'what I am,' the universal self. This does not eliminate the personality but expands it, glorifies it if you will. When I recognize my actions as being of the small self, I do not judge myself but take the recognition as an expansion of my awareness.
Transcending the 'who' is a process not fully in my (the small self's) hands, but I can certainly influence the process and support the natural over-writing of the Ego by consistently making the choice in tiny actions. I let go of attachments, judgment or resistance here; relax into acceptance there; and remind myself through the day to be a constant sun beaming unconditional love. Heart Breathing and its key phrases reinforce and deepen this transcendence from the 'who I am' to 'what I am,' in my experience.
The words of Brother Lawrence are a helpful guide on your journey at this time and that is wonderful. Your experience with the ice bath sounds like intense fun and learning at the same time. I have not done an ice bath, but our unheated outdoor showers sometimes feel like liquid ice! Mostly it is the emotional resistance beforehand that is painful. Once in, if I let go of the resistance and accept that cold is not 'bad', the polarity no longer clashes in me and the cold does not feel so cold as it did. Afterwards, especially when back in the yurt with a fire blazing in the fireplace, the felt experience is just a glow.
As to our move, yes, it appears we will be moving — not north but across the globe. At least, we have taken steps in that direction including re-homing Aura and buying flight tickets. We would change our course in an instant if the inner light were to give clear guidance to do so, paid tickets or not. But for now, we are headed to an island of stone in a sometimes turquoise sea, crested by a snow-capped mountain range and foliaged with ancient olive trees.
....Whoever sets foot on this island senses a mysterious force branching warmly and beneficently through his veins, senses his soul begin to grow. - from 'Letter to El Greco' by Nikos Kazantzakis
The quote you wrote, Dusty, applies well here, 'The soul loves risk; it is only through the door of risk that growth can enter.'
Agape n Arete,
'Arete (Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means "excellence of any kind". The term may also mean "moral [ethical] virtue". In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one's full potential.' - Wikipedia