1. Suffering is caused by identification with egoic consciousness. When we identify with egoic consciousness we go unconscious or become unaware of our true nature as conscious spirit. Humanity is, by and large, caught in this realm of egoic consciousness. The human world we see is a manifestation of our collective state of consciousness, and since our collective consciousness is, by and large, identified with egoic structure, that is what we see when we look into the human world, and how we act and behave to ourselves, others and the world around us. This act of being caught in the egoic state is going to sleep, as it were, and becoming unaware of our true nature. I call our true nature conscious spirit. Usually we attribute our suffering to something outside ourselves. However, when we examine our situation closely, we find that suffering is caused by identification with certain patterns of thinking.
2. The ego is a fiction created in the mind by circular patterns of thinking based on separation. Our ego is our sense of self and the thoughts, ideas and beliefs that go into deriving a bigger and more conceptualized sense of what we imagine ourselves to be. Most human beings are completely identified with this image they have of themselves. That ego, that self is, however, constantly trying to find happiness and peace, because any peace and happiness the ego finds is relatively short-lived and fleeting. When you really look into your identity, you see the circular patterns of thought and that they are based in separation, that is, the idea that I am something that is ultimately distinct and separate from everyone and everything else in the world around me. That’s the conscious–or unconscious–conclusion of the ego. The ego can’t find happiness because everything it seeks is impermanent and unsatisfying. The addiction to the thinking; the identification with the thoughts we think is the root of suffering. When the ego takes on a spiritual identity, we become “seekers”; we start looking for something to get or to get rid of. It’s the primary illusion that spirituality seeks to dispel. All this starts with a pause and a willingness to consider that you might not be who and what you assume you are, and the willingness to question what you think you are.
3. Freedom from egoic consciousness is based upon awakening from the ego to our true nature as conscious spirit. People think this is hard and takes a long time, but if the ego is a pattern of thinking it is not impossible. Now, you can’t get there by battling the mind, or by not thinking about things. It’s important to point out that the cause of suffering is not thinking, but is identification with thinking. You can’t ‘better’ your mind, or stop your mind from thinking. All you have to look at is identification with thoughts. When you begin to question it, when you see the unreality of all this, and you see that thinking happens within what you are, then you can see your true nature, that you have always been conscious spirit, ineffable being, all along. That is awakening, when your true nature becomes conscious.
4. The fourth principle has to do with certain values. These are not the same as moral values. We’ve all been taught certain moral values. Things in life to value: In the West it’s sometimes getting ahead of the other guy, acquisition–of stuff, of money, of experiences, beauty, etc. Different cultures have different values, both what they value and moral values. Awakened values originate in conscious spirit. Not a new set of values, but what spirit holds as valuable…what one is supposed do, work, get, etc. All of the ego’s values are based in separation. Awakened values are the manifestation of conscious spirit: truth, unity (there is only ultimately one) freedom, not just for oneself but for all beings, peace, gratitude and love. These are just some of the values that are inherent within us. This is the great good news of spiritual teaching: that there is a goodness inherent in what we are. All the ideas we have about awakening have to be let go of as well, so we can find what’s the truth, what’s the reality. When you awaken, and you become conscious of the values within the spirit, it transforms your whole life.