This post is excerpted from Lightning Path Workbook One: Basic Concepts.
The first topic we are going to discuss in this introductory LP booklet is “connection.” Connection is a very important spiritual and human development topic. In fact, connection is the most important concept that you have to understand, and the most important thing you must accomplish, if you want to make good forward progress towards manifesting your full human potential.
So what is connection?
Before you can understand what we mean by connection, you have to understand three related key concepts, these being the Physical Unit, the Bodily Ego, and the Spiritual Ego. We will spend a few moments going over each and then we’ll use these concepts to explain the basics of connection.
The concept of the physical unit is relatively straight forward. Your physical unit is your physical body.1 The physical unit consists of all the physical apparatuses of the physical body, including your arms, legs, eyes, ears, and internal organs. The physical unit also includes the brain, the central nervous system, and the mind that emerges from the brain and keeps it all going.
The physical unit, and in particular the brain of the physical unit, is very special. This brain of the physical unit can be seen as a very sophisticated computer. This computer, your brain, has many programs and algorithms (i.e. instincts and reflexes) which allow it to operate on and stay safe in the environment. For example, your body has a program that tells it to avoid pain and seek pleasure. If your body experiences pain of any sort, emotional or physical avoidance algorithms will be automatically activated and your body will withdraw from and avoid the pain.
As noted, your brain is a very sophisticated computer. It has many algorithms which tell it to do things automatically. It also has an intelligence that is linked to, and emerges from, the physical brain. The intelligence of your body is like the artificial intelligence (AI) that is becoming an increasingly common part of most computer systems. The artificial intelligence of your physical unit can learn and respond to the environment just like the artificial intelligence in computers.
We call the artificial intelligence that is part of your brain-computer your bodily ego because the brain is so sophisticated that it actually develops a sense of ego-identity, a sense of “I am.” As defined in the SpiritWiki, the bodily ego is your body’s ego.2 The bodily ego is the sense of identity that emerges as a result of the neurological operations of your brain. To confirm this, neurologists have located several structures in the brain which are associated with your sense of identity and self. The structures in the brain associated with your bodily ego are called the Default Mode Network.3
In addition to your bodily ego, you also have a spiritual ego. Your spiritual ego is that part of your identity that does not emerge from the neurological operations of your brain, is not tied to physical reality, and is in fact separate from and independent of the physical unit. This independent spiritual ego has gone by many different names over the centuries, including immortal soul, real self, true self, Atman, Highest Self, and so on.4
Metaphor of the Self-Driving Vehicle
You can wrap your head around the concepts of physical unit, bodily ego, and spiritual ego if you consider an autonomous, self-driving vehicle—that is a car with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can drive it around. An autonomous vehicle consists of the vehicle itself (tires, engine, doors, wheels, etc.) and computer hardware and softwaresophisticated enough to create an AI capable of learning from and responding to the environment, and is capable of controlling the vehicle. The vehicle also consists of a driver who owns the vehicle and uses the vehicle to get around in the world.
Keeping the idea of an autonomous vehicle in mind (remember, physical vehicle, AI, and driver), we can map the concepts of physical unit, bodily ego, and spiritual ego to the idea of an autonomous vehicle.
The actual physical vehicle, the car, is like your physical unit, your body. Your spiritual ego is like the driver that gets into the vehicle to go driving around. Finally, the bodily ego is like the artificial intelligence that drives the autonomous vehicle. Putting this all together we might say that your physical body is a vehicle for your spiritual ego, your immortal soul. Just like you enter a physical vehicle to drive the vehicle around, your spiritual ego enters a body and, with the assistance of a bodily ego, drives the body around
Note, in this metaphor, the AI of the car is part of the hardware and software of the autonomous vehicle, and as such has no independent existence. If the ignition is turned off or the car is destroyed, the AI goes away. This is the same with your physical unit. When the body dies, the bodily ego goes away. However, this doesn’t mean that the AI or the bodily ego are unimportant. Despite the temporary and transient nature of vehicle AI and the bodily ego, both are are important. The AI drives the vehicle when the owner/driver is either absent or otherwise indisposed and, as we’ll see later in our study, the bodily ego assists the spiritual ego by working to keep the the body safe
To summarize, your spiritual ego is like the driver of a car. Your body is the vehicle of your spiritual ego. The bodily ego is like the AI of a self driving car.
Now that you understand physical unit as physical vehicle, bodily ego as vehicle AI, and spiritual ego as vehicle driver, it is possible to understand what connection is all about.
Think about what the experience of driving an autonomous physical vehicle would be like. When using an autonomous motor vehicle to get around, you could drive the vehicle or the vehicle could drive itself. If you are not driving the vehicle, if you are sleeping or reading a book for example, we would say you are disconnected from the vehicle and disconnected from the AI. However if you wake up and take the wheel of the vehicle, we would say you are then connected to the vehicle, connected to the AI. When you are connected, you the driver takes control of the vehicle. You do that by grasping the wheel and driving independently. When the driver of an autonomous vehicle grasps the wheel and is attentive and “in control,” we can say the driver is connected to the vehicle. In the same way, when speaking of your physical unit, we can say that when the spiritual ego is attentive, present, and fully in control of the physical unit, the spiritual ego is connected to the physical unit/bodily ego and, all other things being equal, in control of the vehicle.
A More Sophisticated AI
The metaphor of the autonomous vehicle is a great way to wrap your head around the basic ideas of spiritual ego, bodily ego, physical unit, and connection; however, you can only get so far in your understanding with this metaphor because the bodily ego, which is the AI of your physical unit, is quite different than the AI of an autonomous street vehicle.
One reason that the bodily ego is different than the AI of an autonomous vehicle is that the bodily ego is far smarter and more capable then the AI of a car, or device. This sophistication derives from the sophisticated hardware of the brain (the neurons, neurotransmitters, and such of the brain and central nervous system) and the sophisticated software of survival and control algorithms which have been refined and honed over millions of years of species evolution. More sophisticated hardware and software means the AI of your physical unit, your bodily ego, is far and away more sophisticated than the AI of your average autonomous vehicle.
One of the main ways in which the bodily ego is more sophisticated than the “vehicle ego” is that bodily ego has a sense of self and identity. Unlike the AI of a car which is not self-aware, yet anyway, the bodily ego is. This sophistication has one important evolutionary outcome which is that because the brain is so sophisticated, because the hardware and software of the brain is so evolved, the bodily ego which emerges from the brain feels and thinks “I Am.” The same cannot be said of vehicle AI which, when compared to the bodily ego, looks more like a primitive basic program than an actual “intelligent” entity. As we’ll see later on, this sense of self, this feeling of independent existence that the bodily ego develops, is both beneficial and a liability.
Another way the bodily ego is more sophisticated than the AI of a physical vehicle, or any current AI for that matter, is that the bodily ego is highly sensitive and responsive to experience, both internal and external. The bodily ego is designed, for survival reasons, to be in-tune with and responsive to the environment in which it lives.
The sensitivity of the bodily ego to the environment, to experience, is a good thing because it means the bodily ego can learn and grow in ways beyond what a simple AI could. This learning and growth is good for survival because it means the bodily ego can respond in a sophisticated and intelligent manner to the environment, even when the environment changes. This makes it more likely that an individual can survive the sometimes harsh realities of physical existence. However, the sensitivity of the bodily ego to the environment can also be a bad thing, because the bodily ego, being the sensitive thing that it is, can easily become damaged as a result of toxic experience. The bodily ego starts out fresh and clean at birth, but over time it can get bigger or smaller, healthier or more distorted, connected or more disconnected, depending entirely on the experiences it has.
Speaking of connection, another way the bodily ego is different than the AI of a car is in the “connection” process itself. When the driver of physical car connects to the AI of the car, the driver is just taking physical control of the vehicle. This control is very basic and superficial. The driver is not actually connecting with or merging with the vehicle AI. The driver is just grabbing the steering wheel. This is not what happens when the spiritual ego connects to the bodily ego of the physical unit. When the spiritual ego connects to the bodily ego, this is felt by both as an actual experience, a significant change of consciousness. We call this a Connection Experience. When the bodily ego experiences connection with its spiritual ego, it is an actual, verifiable, experience.
Metaphor of the Water Glass
What happens when you make a connection? What does connection mean to the physical unit, the bodily ego, and the spiritual ego? We’ll unravel these questions as we proceed through the LP corpus. Here we’d like to say a couple things to help you understand, but we have to leave the automobile metaphor behind because it doesn’t quite capture all the relevant issues.
The first way to look at connection is to see connection as a kind of merging between the spiritual ego and bodily ego. When the spiritual ego connects to the bodily ego, the spiritual and bodily ego begin a process of mixing and melding, the goal of which, as we’ll see in Lightning Path Workbook Three, is alignment and union between the two.5
Another way to understand what connection means is to think of your physical unit6 like a water glass and your spiritual ego, your higher Consciousness7 if you like, as water that fills the glass. If you think of the pure consciousness of your spiritual ego like water, and if you think of your physical unit, when connection occurs, the water of your higher consciousness begins to fill the glass of your physical unit.
A visual of “consciousness filling the vessel” is provided on the Water Glass Metaphor SpiritWiki page.8 Understand here, the longer you can stay connected during any given connection experience, the more water/conscious you can get into the glass. The goal of connection is to get as much consciousness into the glass of your physical unit as you can. We use the heuristic concept of Consciousness Quotient (CQ) to indicate the amount of Consciousness you get into the body when the bodily ego and spiritual ego are connected. The higher the CQ of your physical unit, the more Consciousness is in the body.
And that is all there is to it. At this point you know what the bodily ego is, what spiritual ego is, and what connection is. You understand that connection allows the bodily ego and the spiritual ego to merge, align, and unite. Looked at another way, you understand that connection allows higher Consciousness to pour into and fill up the vessel, the water glass, the physical unit. That’s a pretty good start, however now, more questions emerge. What does connection feel like? What does “merging” and “union” feel like? What happens when you fill the vessel with the higher Consciousness of your own spiritual ego? How do you initiate connection? Can anything go wrong with connection and if it does, how do we ensure that everything goes right?
We are going to answer all these question and more as we progress through the LP materials. We will start, in the next few sections, by examining more closely this idea of connection. We will answer some basic questions and we will give some introductory advice and guidance on initiating the process and handling any pitfalls and challenges that you might encounter at the early stages. Keep in mind as you progress through, this booklet is a basic introduction. We introduce several basic concepts in this workbook, but there is not enough in this single book to get you through the process from start to finish. A lot of question will still remain, and a lot of material will still need to be covered. Therefore, when you are done with this booklet, continue your study with LP materials on healing and connection.
Use the metaphor of the autonomous vehicle to describe the nature of, and relationship between, the spiritual ego, bodily ego, and physical unit. Are your thoughts clear on the meaning of the concepts and how they related together, and to your own understanding? Is there anything that is unclear? Write your comments and questions down and share with the group, or in the HC journal on the LP Forums.9
What is the goal of connection? What role does the Water Glass Metaphor play in explaining and illustrating the process of connection and what happens when you make a connection? Can you think of other metaphors to describe the process, perhaps from your own past spiritual or scientific training? Write your answers down and share with the group or online.
What do you think of the concepts of spiritual ego, bodily ego, and connection? Can you relate these concepts to other concepts you may have learned as part of your past psychological or spiritual training? For example, I was raised Catholic and in that system, spiritual ego refers to the Holy Spirit and the physical unit refers to the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Write your thoughts down and share.
3 For a more in-depth analysis of the Default Mode Network, see Mike Sosteric, “The Science of Ascension: A Neurologically Grounded Theory of Mystical/Spiritual Experience” (2017).
5Note, this is a process of union and not annihilation. The bodily ego is part of the physical brain and it can’t be annihilated without damaging the physical brain. Michael Sharp attempts to capture the nature of this “merge” experience, this union and alignment, in the poem I Am/We Are. https://www.michaelsharp.org/i-amwe-are/
6Note, from this point forward, when we say your physical unit we always mean your physical body plus the bodily ego which is part of the physical body.
7For more on the nature of Consciousness see Michael Sharp, The Book of Light: The Nature of God, the Structure of Consciousness, and the Universe Within You, vol. one-air, 4 vols. (St. Albert, Alberta: Lightning Path Press, 2006).