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Here's an excerpt from my new book, Open your Heart Now: The Fast Track to Inner Freedom, Love, and Joy...

Noticing Which “I” is Active in You

As you become more awake and free, more present, you realize something quite profound: even though you are now much freer of your ego, your “I” and “me” thoughts, you still have them!

The notion that your ego must be “annihilated,” popular in some spiritual traditions, is a fallacy. Even after enlightenment, the ego is still there. We could call it the “awakened ego,” to contrast it with the “unawakened ego”—or, as I prefer, the conscious or functional “I,” which is your true “I,” the “I” of the being you are, and the ego “I.”

The ego “I” is the ego that we are still identified with—that we think and believe is who we are. I am my name, my story, my emotional history, my nationality, my culture, my religion, and my political affiliation.

“I very definitely am these things and I will react—defensively, even angrily, or with doubts and insecurity—whenever what I believe is challenged or threatened” says the ego “I.” In other words, it is all about me, me, me…

The greatest fear of the ego “I” is loss of control, and it will do anything—resort to any rationalization—to maintain at least the illusion of control. It is often unhappy about its past, and is always trying to get somewhere, into a new, better, or different situation. It is only satisfied with the present moment if its needs are being met—“my” needs.

But even as we find the inner freedom we’ve been seeking, we—as the functional “I”—realize that, “Oh, I still have an ego!” After all, whenever we say “I” or “me,” that’s our ego speaking. The ego is our personal boundary-setter. We use it for planning and goal-setting, and defining our personal wants and needs.

The functional “I,” or the awakened ego, is calm, clear, very present, and generally unemotional. We use it for our normal, daily routine, as in “I must speak to my partner about this,” or “I need to get ready for work,” or “I need to visit the doctor.”

Learning to be inwardly vigilant so that you can distinguish which “I” is active in you is a helpful practice on the path of awakening. And if there is even the slightest trace of angst or suffering—or pride or self-satisfaction—you can be sure it’s your ego “I.”

Be glad that you have seen it, because in the very seeing, you begin to free yourself from it.

Love and blessings,


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An article about Jim and his work, by Joyce Tate Dvoren, is in the December 2011 issue of LA Yoga. Titled ‘Three Steps to Freedom,’ it can be read online at http://www.layoga-digital.com/layoga/201112#pg22

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