Advent – A call to live life to the full

Advent – A call to live life to the full
Mindful Living

We are all called to live life to the full.  That calls us to live beyond the limitations of the ego. Psychology teaches us that in the first part of our life we need to develop the ‘ego’, as part of our survival instinct. We need a healthy and balanced ego, which provides a strong sense of ‘self’ if we are to navigate both our external and internal worlds realistically. The ego serves a function – it’s a vehicle. In Sanskrit the word closely related to ego is ‘ahamkara’ which comes from two words or two senses, one of which is ‘I am’ (aham), and the other is kara which gives us the word ‘carriage’ or ‘car’ or ‘vehicle’. Vedic philosophy says that when one’s mind is in a state of ahamkara, one is in a state of subjective illusion.

Modern psychology might describe it as being imprisoned by our own ego, and its needs, desires and attachments. This can happen when our life circumstances lead to an unbalanced ego which closes off any sense of being beyond the confines of the ego. By contrast, there are periods in our life where ‘ego- development’ goes hand in hand with a growing awareness that there is more to our being than the ego. We become keenly aware of the primordial, spiritual ‘self’ and a heart-felt desire to deepen that awareness. This desire to go beyond does not come from the ‘ego’ which may in fact strive to resist this inner call. Instead, that call arises from the deepest aspect of our being, from a deeper level of consciousness seeking to make its presence felt.

For some, this call may be experienced by the ego as irrational; but is in fact trans-rational. Meditation helps us to move beyond the illusion of the ego as ultimate reality and to see it as a vehicle or a platform for enabling the discovery of the true self, when we are ready. As human beings in development we are always a work of maturation in progress. A healthy ego allows us to detach from our attachments, even though such a process inevitably involves suffering.


Meditation deepens our understanding and acceptance of levels of consciousness beyond the egoic.

As the psychologist William James wrote: “Our normal waking consciousness is but one special type of consciousness, while all about it parted from it by the flimsiest of screens there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.” An important step then is to appreciate that we live both in a material and spiritual reality. Meditation deepens our awareness of wholeness, of this holistic reality. It helps us to connect with our spiritual nature and leads us in the direction of wholeness and integration.

Meditation awakens us to the true-self that lies beyond the ego; it makes us aware of the stranglehold that the ego can exert on us. When the ego has a hold on us we tend to react to situations in life from that false sense of who we are rather than respond from our deepest, truest self.

For Christians, the season of Advents [beginning November 28] is a time for reflecting on this call because our faith tells us that the spirit of Christ dwells within every human person. It is a common misunderstanding to see Christmas as the celebration of a once-off event – the birth of baby Jesus, the ‘coming’ of Christ – that happened two thousand years ago. But in reality, Christmas and Advent are a call to prepare to give birth to Christ, to make him visible to others and within ourselves.

As human beings in development we are always a work of maturation in progress

Yet we find it difficult to comprehend that we are called to give birth to Christ today, where we live. Mary, who allowed herself be open and vulnerable to receive spiritual gifts—in fact, the spiritual gift – offers us a profound model. We learn from her how to let go and receive freely, to let go of our attachment to the ego, to our small separate self to make room for the birth of Christ within us and to allow whatever that asks of us in our lives, without trying to manage or manipulate the spiritual energy that flows from that birthing within. Meditation helps us to let go and receive what is given freely.


Richard Rohr reminds us that in the Gospels there is no mention of any moral worthiness or egoic achievement in Mary, only humble trust and surrender and so, she gives us all hope that we can do likewise. Rohr warns, however, that “if we ourselves try to manage God or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never give birth to the Christ, but only more of ourselves”.

When we recognise that we live in a material and a spiritual reality simultaneously, we are enabled to find the Christ in every moment, in any event, and in every person. This is how God continually breaks into history – through you and me. May our meditation practice make us vulnerable and open to that happening in us, over and over again, so that we may live life to the full with ever greater authenticity.