How to Follow the Way of Undoing

Throughout history, saints, sages, and philosophers have all proclaimed, in their various ways, that "He who loses his life shall gain it." That means, ego "death" -- the Undoing of ego -- is the essential requirement for entrance to the Life Divine. But unlike physical death, which comes to us unbidden, the conclusive defeat of your ego will NOT happen TO you; it cannot. It's necessarily a fully conscious process. You must be a moth that flies into the flame VOLUNTARILY.

Of course, from our mortal perspective, we view our ego -- and even our ego-centrism -- as our ultimate safety, as the vessel that carries us across the sea of life. We ignore the fact that no ego has EVER provided ANYONE a truly safe passage through life. Ego life is full of struggle and suffering from beginning to end. And the inevitable difficulties of living are made FAR worse -- not better -- by the ego's constant clinging to its survival concerns and fear mechanisms. Yet we STILL cling to that ship???

Most life strategies are designed to keep ego alive, and PREVENT its Undoing. How, then, do we come to welcome this supreme sacrifice -- the "death" of everything we think we are?

First we must admit the fact that our ego ship is not seaworthy. After all, no one wants to stay on a ship that is destined to sink!

When you discover your ship is sinking and is beyond repair, your priorities dramatically change. You rush to board a trustworthy lifeboat, and happily abandon your once-beloved vessel. In spiritual life, three similar steps bring you to the point of fundamental conversion to the enlightened life, the Life Divine:




RECOGNIZE the eternally unsolvable problem of ego and the limitations of self-effort, in your own case.

EMBRACE the only TRUE alternative to continuing to live as an ego: surrender of self to God and to His Grace.

ABANDON your ego-driven existence, and transfer your allegiance to a different, higher Way of living -- making an uncompromising commitment to ego-transcendence.

STEP 1. RECOGNIZE the eternally unsolvable problem of ego and the limitations of self-effort, in your own case.

As ego-identified beings, we are ever inclined to do things "my way." But so long as ego steers, our way is NOT God's way. In fact, doing things "my way" keeps us separate from God and out of step with His will. True spiritual life flowers only when we've grown THOROUGHLY disillusioned with doing things "my way."

Anyone can see the problem represented by the egos of OTHER people. But to live the Way of Undoing, you must see that YOU have the ego problem. You must see the futility of self-effort and self-orientation in your OWN case. You must become disillusioned with living for yourself in any way, every way. You must be thoroughly tired of living for your own self-survival, self-protection, self-direction, self-defense, self-improvement, personal benefit. You must see the complete FUTILITY of the entire egoic lifestyle. That is the PRIMARY requirement for spiritual rebirth.

Of course, no one can force that recognition. Often, decades of repetitive disappointment pass before our ego failure humbles us. Every time we hit a wall, we try to re-establish hope in some other equally flawed direction. We set out boldly in pursuit of a new consolation, another way around the mountain of Truth. No wonder it is said, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast." Fortunately, that is not quite true: Hope springs only until we surrender. After that, Spirit realization outshines hope.

To be willing to be Undone, you must become CONCLUSIVELY disenchanted with yourself and all your hopes, your schemes -- and even your fears. You must be disenchanted to the point where your ego doesn't keep sprouting back with another of its hopeful but ill-fated plans. Meanwhile...

NOTICE that each time you regroup, your problems return. SEE that every hopeful new path, every improved strategy leads to an impasse. SEE that every time ego redirects, it secretly misdirects. It grasps at straws in vain. That is the ego's way; it can do no better. When you finally accept the fact of your ego's failure, you realize, "There is NO WAY for me. And the REASON there's no way for me is because of me. ME is what is going wrong with this life."

That's why it is truly said, "Enlightenment is a failure." Note, however, that enlightenment is a different KIND of failure, a much deeper kind of failure, than the kind associated with ordinary depression and ordinary giving up. It is not just a PERSONAL failing, or the failure of a person to "succeed." It is a failure of PERSONHOOD as we (mis)understand it. That complete and final failure is the only thing that can bring us to somehow release our white-knuckle attachment to what we consider to be ME -- our separate sense of self and our self-elaborated individual identity -- and to trade in ego life for the Life Divine.

Each sincere seeker eventually grows to see the limitations of self-work -- or of self ANYTHING, for that matter. The old ego-centered life becomes threadbare. You see that essentially, at the very core of everything you do, you have always been dedicated to your ego and to its survival, in spite of your best intentions to be a good and loving and giving person. You feel repulsed by the smallness and selfishness of that life. At last, you come to realize:

"Life as I live it will not work, CANNOT work. Life is not actually a project that was given to me to fulfill. Rather, it is a project that was given for ME -- the ego I think of as ME -- to be UNDONE."

Thus you become ready to abandon ship.

STEP 2. EMBRACE the only true alternative to continuing to live as an ego: surrender of self to God and to Grace.

Once you see the utter futility and eternal hopelessness of living an ego-directed life, how do you appropriately ADAPT? You surrender! You give up! Give up on what? You give up on ME, the illusory self that you believe is you -- the ego. How? Instead of relying on your ego and your own sovereign devices, you stop thinking, "I'm going to fix all this." And you turn to God and to righteousness for the solutions.

True spiritual life begins only after you finally admit the futility of living as an ego, and you actually transfer your allegiance to a different, higher Way of living. That is the essence of spiritual conversion, a true rebirth.

How is giving up on the ego different than ordinary giving up?
Click here for an explanation.

How can WE liberate ourselves from selfishness? How can WE provide our minds with enlightened, God-given thought? How can WE Undo ourselves? We can't do ANY of those things. We can START those jobs, perhaps, but we sure can't FINISH them. When it comes to liberation, the CONCLUSIVE steps are gifts from God. Therefore, ultimately, we must acknowledge our utter dependence on God's part, and turn to God.

Liberation from ego certainly cannot be achieved by memorizing higher knowledge. Nor does it come from practicing spiritual techniques or following rote prescriptions of any kind. What is required for spiritual liberation/realization is to humbly admit,

"I can create the problem, but I can't fix it. Only a higher DEDICATION combined with a higher POWER could liberate me from this mess that I'm in, that I KEEP CREATING for myself. I must give up on the ego, and turn to God in order to be healed."

That heartfelt acknowledgement opens the door to true surrender -- the kind that allows for liberation. True surrender provides release from the perils of excessive self-determination. To be free, we MUST surrender egotism. We MUST surrender our personal will to the Divine will. We MUST feel, "Thy will, not mine, be done." Only true surrender liberates us from the limitations of ego and ego-styled human potential, and makes us a conduit for far greater potential -- under Divine direction.

At the crossroads: the moment of Truth

Of course, for the ego, and for any individual identified with ego, it's hard to believe in anything other than personal striving -- "creature power." That's why it's such a blessed opportunity when we've gotten to the end of the ego's rope. At that moment of destitution and humiliation, we stand at a cosmic crossroads. We have a golden, Grace-given opportunity to turn our minds to higher thought. But what do we do? Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness -- or do we just cry in our beer and cover our wounds with bandaids? We either bet our all on righteousness, or go back to a life consumed by avoiding personal pain and pursuing personal gain.

Compensation is one method of return to the old. When we recognize the terrible mess we're in, we may feel an overwhelming desire to make ourselves feel better again -- to salvage our failing self-esteem and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. To keep from being too depressed, going crazy, or committing suicide, we grasp onto compensatory, feel-good beliefs: "I'm a good person. I know I'm not all bad. My intentions are good. God will forgive me." The tendency to resort to such beliefs is so strong it's almost a reflex. Unfortunately, compensatory thinking leads us right back into the same old trap, because it's only the ego trying to save ITSELF. Feel-good beliefs might help us feel a bit better for a little while, but they are NOT what we need, and they will NEVER satisfy us. They're compensatory, not liberating. In the long run, the usual effort to "save the day" or "restore hope" is completely in vain, and even misleading. The truth is, the ego simply cannot be saved, much less save itself. Ego life cannot be resurrected -- only REPLACED. Take refuge in God's Grace and God's law instead.

In the moment of Truth, when you're at the end of your ego's rope, don't cut yourself some more slack. Just BE at the end of your rope. Hang the ego, then walk away from it. Walk away from all its compensatory, superficial, feel-good beliefs. Resist the temptation to try to save the day and fend off the Truth at the last minute. Walk away from the ego. Don't look back.

If you don't try to recreate yourself, you find, to your delight, the true Self that REMAINS (WITHOUT your egoic efforts at self-creation). Indeed, it shines forth BECAUSE such efforts have ceased. You DO have a true Self, you know! And it's NOT the self-concept you reinforce by constantly trying to make yourself feel better about your situation. It's infinitely BETTER than that! Your true Self is a wonderful masterpiece of God.

Click here to read more
about the true Self that remains when ego is Undone.

STEP 3. ABANDON your ego-driven existence, and transfer your allegiance to a different, higher Way of living -- making an uncompromising commitment to ego-transcendence.

Only God can cut the final chain that binds us to ego. And of course, God is always willing for us to be newly and completely free. He is always providing the means for our liberation.

Yet, despite God's will, most of us remain ego-bound. That's because we humans also have our OWN free will -- a will that God respects. Generally, we don't WANT to be free of ego. Even God can't Undo those who don't want to be Undone.

God's Grace moves in direct proportion to our demonstrated willingness to surrender ego. Grace cannot save us against our will; we must CHOOSE to be Undone. We must passionately CRAVE that liberation, actively PURSUE it, and unreservedly ACCEPT it. THEN God snips our tether, and we're free at last!

Beyond the compromises of "improvement" and "balance"

Commitment is always available as a choice, and you can make an uncompromising commitment any time. The notion of gradual improvement TOWARD the ideal is spiritually dangerous, because it reeks of compromise. The stepwise approach affords the ego the opportunity to make perilous compromises that perpetuate its rule. The truth is, we can't make a deal with the devil and expect to win!

When we cling to a stepwise approach, we're still seeking some sort of middle ground -- a "right balance" between opposing forces within. It can't be found! The lesson of experience has shown that right balance can NEVER be found. Eventually we come to realize that, despite our best efforts to balance our egoic needs/wants with our spiritual needs/wants, that way doesn't work. The ego isn't good at sharing. If you give it an inch, it takes a mile -- and whether it takes an inch or a mile, it prevents the fulfillment of all your fondest and most deeply held spiritual aspirations. Therefore:

Why forfeit the pure and absolute joy that only Right living and unconflicted Being can afford? Be wholehearted instead!

Pure and uncompromised surrender

Compromise is hell on spiritual life. With the bad habit of compromise, we only perpetuate our egoic antagonism to Truth and Rightness. And we will certainly NOT be Undone while we are inwardly divided. Divided, we are fallen.

If you are to win the struggle with your ego, you must live a life of uncompromised, willing, and happy surrender. Some resistance is natural, even inevitable; but nevertheless, resistance is just another thing to renounce. Give up the limiting pattern of foot dragging and unsurrender. Throw yourself completely -- body, mind, and heart -- into doing the right thing, into being "perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." Do that always. Fashion your ENTIRE life into one continuous experience of joyful surrender.

Everyone knows, right living is UNSELFISH living. You must necessarily live as a gift. Live for others, live for God. Overcome any tendency NOT to be a living sacrifice. But of course, to live unselfishly requires self-discipline.

The Life of Undoing is extremely deliberate. You must be fully intentional to walk this road. And you must take it on as an absolute discipline. No matter what mainstream preachers say, the Pearl of Great Price will never be inexpensive. Receiving God's gift depends upon our firm and undivided choice to LIVE in the Spirit; no lesser price will ever secure freedom from imprisonment in ego. Entrapment in ego is self-created, self-perpetuating, and self-defended. So it takes a STRONG will to walk away from that.

Even though the Divine Life is our God-given inheritance, people often underestimate how much personal responsibility is needed to claim it. Undoing is the MOST responsible process on earth! Indeed, the way of Undoing requires more responsibility than most people are willing to take. Few people are willing to exert control over their wayward mind. Few people are willing to abandon their self-protective patterns of living. Few people are willing to walk out of the tomb of egoic living, and expand into the truly spiritual realm of right living, the Life Divine. And yet, make no mistake: Only our responsible participation makes salvation possible. Our wholehearted adaptation to Truth is truly the essential contribution that we make to our own liberation.

The Way of Undoing is a way of LIFE, not a mere philosophy

Our hearts and souls constantly cry for release from suffering. And yet, to actually BE fulfilled in spirit, we must embrace the path of liberation. We must EARN our wings.

It's easy to be fed up with the life of ego. Even EGO gets fed up with the suffering it creates! But you can be fed up with the ordinary way of living without escaping it. Indeed, most people are in exactly that fix.

Clearly, a lot of people feel disillusioned and disappointed with their lives -- and deeply crave something better. But when, despite the misery of it, you ACCEPT a hum-drum life, or you allow yourself to be consumed by the difficulties resulting from the way you presently live, your soul urge for liberation remains on the back burner.

When do our spiritual urges move to the front burner? Only when we become committed enough to LIVE DIFFERENTLY. That's when true spiritual life really takes off -- when we are actually trying to make our body/mind conform to what the indwelling spirit knows is true. That takes muscle. And it takes courage.

Willingness to live differently

To progress in the Way of Undoing, you must be willing not only to respect, consider, and believe higher principles, but also to make those principles the new basis for your own action. Your willingness to live differently is tested daily in spiritual life.

To truly open yourself to the Grace of Undoing, you must totally, willingly, and happily dedicate yourself to LIVING a life of love and righteousness. With a glad and willing heart, set out on the road less traveled. CULTIVATE a spirit of inner and outer surrender to the principles of Truth, and obedience to Divine direction. BE READY and WILLING to give up your body, mind, and experience -- and not just in some abstract mystical sense. REALLY stop using your body/mind/experience as the basis for your decisions. REALLY stop making "I-me-mine" decisions -- decisions made in reference to MY survival, MY comfort, MY advantage, how everything affects ME. Instead, steer entirely by the star of what is right and Godly, regardless of the implications for you, your popularity, etc.

It is worth noting that Undoing is not another example of "something I do for me." Instead, it is something I do DESPITE the person I (mis)understand myself to be! It's a way to escape from that, not to fix or fulfill it. Good comes only from turning away from that mess of hopelessness, and turning to righteousness REGARDLESS of gain or pain, credit or discredit.

On the Way of Undoing, your motivation TRANSCENDS yourself. It's certainly not a mere reaction to pleasure or pain. It's not a quest for gain -- not even SPIRITUAL gain, ultimately. Seeking often prevents finding -- especially if the seeking orientation is selfish.

Ultimately, the Way of Undoing is not even a rebellion against the ego. It may seem to BEGIN in such terms, but to REALLY walk away from ego, you must simply ignore it. And you don't even want CREDIT for doing that!

The wise attitude is, "Pleasure pursuit and pain avoidance got me into this mess. So forget that! From now on, I'll do what's right REGARDLESS of pleasure or pain, credit or discredit." You just leave ego behind, and simply walk right into the other world, the world of righteousness.

Choosing again and again

When you set foot on the Way of Undoing, your choice for ego-transcendence might be strong, but since the ego position is still deeply entrenched, it will continually reassert itself. There's no shame in that -- it is natural, even inevitable. But as a consequence, the only way to maintain your true commitment is to REPEATEDLY choose the spirit position, and leave behind the ego position, OVER AND OVER -- every time ego-orientation rears its ugly head. It's like cutting down weeds every time they grow back, until they run out of the root power to sprout again. Eventually, negative tendencies fade.

The key to progress is choosing -- and choosing consistently. Since the ego is always either pursuing pleasure or avoiding pain, when either of those tendencies arises, you often have chances to choose again AGAINST ego. Just choose to do what you know is right, REGARDLESS of your personal preferences. Choose to do right as often, and as well, as you can. God will do the rest.

Choice points throughout the day

Thoroughness is next to Godliness, even though we might prefer more slack. But when it comes to slack, bear this in mind: It doesn't help to remove cancer from one part of your body if tumors remain in other parts. Similarly, a piecemeal approach to ego-transcendence CAN'T work. You can defeat the ego ONLY as a whole.

For example: You might decide to get up earlier in the morning, to overcome laziness. Wonderful -- you've beaten the ego at sunrise! But remember, the rest of the day is still up for grabs. What if the ego wins even HALF the battles all day long? What if it wins a QUARTER of your votes in the way you live, the way you handle things, the way you think? True, every spiritual victory is a good thing, but what does it mean to win a few battles while losing the war? What if the ego lost the battle over your waking time, but still found a dozen other places to do its thing -- and be fed, and reinforced? Time to redouble your resolve!

No one wins every battle, but DON'T take human imperfection as an excuse to concede to the ego, or to relax spiritual vigilance. It's absolutely impossible to beat the ego with the idea that you'll defeat it in one area at a time. To win this battle, you MUST fight on all fronts at once. You must be determined and willing to renounce ego in ALL its forms -- inner and outer, subtle and gross, seemingly small and seemingly large.

We must consciously and deliberately work to transcend ego-identification in every form of which we are aware -- in the spirit of happy, faithful surrender to God's Grace and direction. In all sincerity and honesty, we must do everything within our power to surrender egoic sovereignty. So, without hesitation or undue struggle, let go of all forms of selfishness and self-concern as they arise.

Growing into the Life Divine

The greatest power for change on Earth, the switch that turns on Divine Power, is the WILLINGNESS of human beings to surrender to what is appropriate, and to the Divine impulse that flows if we let it. But until we can reliably hear the voice of inner Divine guidance, we really CAN'T just "let go and let God." So the first level of surrender -- and this is something everyone can do -- is to surrender the egoic tendency to live based on WHIM (including, for example, doing "what feels good" in any moment). Instead, follow good GUIDELINES.

As the basis for action, take universally recognized moral principles, and apply those with feeling sensitivity in each circumstance. Commit to consistently LIVE your life based upon Godly principles/precepts that YOU recognize as true. This is a beginning step of surrender, but a necessary one. It is an effective way to avoid the pitfalls of overly selfed action, and to refine spiritual rightness.

Happily, as you perform high-principled actions, you will find that your mind slows down a bit, and you become increasingly receptive to inner Divine guidance. EVENTUALLY, that leads to this:

Meanwhile, in the quest for perfection, perfection is neither expected nor required of the seeker. We're only obliged to live up to the standard we KNOW we can meet. The true Way is this: In every moment in the Way of Undoing, we are to obey the "rules" -- the principles of spiritual life -- AS WE UNDERSTAND THEM. We move without delay or reluctance to our furthest horizon -- the highest degree of responsibility and righteousness we can currently CONCEIVE. When we arrive there, we will see a new horizon, and a greater potential for surrender of ego. Upon seeing it, we will be obliged to move THERE. Soon after each step, God reveals the next. By this cooperative process, any sincere person CAN successfully follow the Way of Undoing. Without ever going farther than we can see, we can eventually reach our goal.

By Grace, you will surely adapt to the Life Divine if, to the best of your ability, you commit and submit yourself to God. In response to your dedication, effort, and sincerity, God will continually refine your understanding of right action, increase your endurance for the challenges and struggles of spiritual endeavor, and give you greater and greater space from the tyranny of ego.

Walking the walk

An ego-transcending life can never be a matter of merely accepting a dogma or practicing a technique; it is an all-consuming commitment. Similarly, an ego-transcending life requires no special circumstances, nor is it prevented by any circumstances. It can be expressed in anything and everything we do. So, in the Way of Undoing, we make and implement our choice for unselfed living in the context of our ordinary lives and activities. We bring our spiritual practice FULLY into our daily lives.

The true way is a LIVING path. We cannot be Undone merely by thinking about it; surrender means nothing until we bring it into the level of action.

We may deny that, but we can't HELP but feel it. In fact, the spiritual dissatisfaction that most people feel comes precisely from the pain of not having made the body do the bidding of the spirit, at the manifest level of ACTION. For example, you thought of what to say, but you didn't make your mouth say it. Or you thought of what to do, but you failed to walk across the floor and DO it. In such cases, the ego created a wall for the implementation of your spiritual impulse, and wouldn't let happen what NEEDED to happen.

This we all know: The ego is strongly identified with the body. That's why it's a lot harder to DO something that's loving than to THINK OF doing it. And that's a very good reason why the Way of Undoing begins at the physical level -- the level of action. A most effective way to start chopping ego down to size is to press the body into physical SERVICE of Truth.

You can THINK about spiritual action all day long, but the moment you try to bring your intention into the level of action, you shake the ego's selfish purposes to the foundations. You are saying to the ego, "I'm going to take this body and use it for God's purpose, not yours." Will the ego resist? Of course!

That's why people get so scared when they actually try to do something -- as opposed to think about it. But by the same token, whenever you adapt your physical activities to the ways of Truth, a spiritual victory is yours.

Often, we pretend not to notice how often we balk at the point of bodily implementation. We don't want to face how much we've let the ego keep our spiritual impulses and inspirations from manifestation. But in the Way of Undoing, we must NOT ALLOW ego's body-identification to confine us to inaction or paralysis. The level of action must be surrendered.

Your soul longs to be free. Give it what it takes!

Undoing in action

The rest of this section of the web site will detail how to live the Way of Undoing in the five major areas of human action: service, study, practical responsibility, relationship, and Divine connection. For those who would take to the path, each section will shed light on the question, "HOW do I live this way?"

Blessings upon you, dear reader! May you live to be Undone!

Table of Contents

Proceed to Right Action in the Way of Undoing

Return to Introduction to the Way of Undoing

For further reading on this subject see:
Enlightenment is a Failure

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