Verse 3: “A voice crying aloud in the wilderness, ‘prepare a way for the Lord; clear a straight path for him.’”
Many popular books and spiritual teachings talk about the ego/self as the hindrance to spiritual enlightenment. The idea implies that a loss of self is needed. I think this Scripture gives a different impression when we consider the dynamics of our psyche it pictures.
Within our psyche/soul are different psychic structures. Just as our physical body has multiple bones, all working together, each with its own job, we need multiple psychic structures or “bones.” Carl Jung’s model of the psyche offers a view of these structures.
In Jung’s model, the ego or conscious sense of self mediates between the outside world and our inner reality. Within the inner realm, we find the Self, the God Within. The Self is “a part of God that God put in us so that we would know there is a God.” The ego is the manifestation of the Divine Self in the world while we are in a physical body.
The job of the ego, according to this Scripture, is to “prepare a way…clear a straight path” for the God Within to come. The ego gets a bad rap because we identify with expressions of the Self that have been convoluted, distorted, or even hijacked by ways learned from the outside world. We hold onto learned outer worldviews and behaviors that cloud or stop the flow of the Inner Divine Spirit to the ego/self. When our thoughts, desires, and actions are off track from the truth of our souls, we recreate painful and life destroying situations.
Our willingness to see where and how our thoughts, feelings, and actions originate is essential to clearing the path for God Within to manifest in our ego. Psychological and spiritual disciplines such as dreamwork, journaling, meditation, psychotherapy, contemplative practices, study of sacred Scriptures, yoga, and bodywork techniques are ways of clearing the path between the ego and the Self/God Within.
Such practices can increase consciousness, an expanded sense of self or ego that can feel, know, and intentionally cultivate the connection with the largeness of the God Within. This happens only as we willingly see where we, with our egos, continue to believe, practice, and unwittingly act in ways that block the flow of the Inner Divine into our sensations, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Seeking to eradicate ego is dangerous. Seeking to cultivate ego as the ground or expression of the Inner Divine is what is needed.
Take a few minutes to identify where you feel blocked, clouded, or stuck. Track the body sensations, emotions, thoughts, and feelings that lead to and sustain this place. Open to other possibilities within you. In this way, prepare the way for your Self/God Within to come into your body-mind, ego, and embodied life.