Becoming conscious of the factors which prevent us from living with balance, loving with abandon, and being sovereigns over our own authentic lives is our soul’s true destiny and the goal of inner work. But it takes a long time to understand this, and even longer to accomplish it.
Around the age of three children become aware of themselves as individuals. This marks the awakening of ego-consciousness. This stage is marked by growing self-awareness, but not Self-awareness, for, unfortunately, as the child leaves the comforting womb of the mother’s world it forgets about the intimate sense of connectedness to the All it experienced before then. Moreover, it hasn’t a clue how to return to it.
Think of a child’s psyche as a freshly laid chicken egg. Imagine the egg white as the ego which is closer to the shell (or persona: the social personality an ego creates to adapt to its flock), and the yolk as the Self, our unconscious spiritual core. In the natural life of a fertilized egg the white and yolk merge to create new life. When they are fully integrated and the chick is ready, it pecks at its constraining shell until it falls away. Only by becoming conscious of the wider world and daring to explore it can the baby chick attain its destiny of mature chickenhood.
The same process of integration is meant to happen in our psyche. But, unfortunately, most human eggs remain unfertilized, the ego stays separated from the Self, and the persona remains intact. In this stage of ego-consciousness we are living in the Kingdom of Eggdom. We believe ourselves to be fully conscious but are actually only conscious of what our egos think and want and feel. Everything we know and believe in the Kingdom of Eggdom is shaped by living in this egg in this nest in this coop with these chickens in this tiny barnyard.
Until our ego begins to integrate with the larger world of our psyche and we begin to individuate — by which Jung meant knowing the difference between our individual soul and our group’s soul and honoring our uniqueness with original choices — our life will be as constricted as an unborn chick trapped in a fragile egg and we will not achieve our potential or fulfill our destinies.
The fertilizer that kicks off our integration and individuation is the life crises without and within which make us uncomfortable enough to want to leave the Kingdom of Eggdom. Life might even administer a few cracks to our shells. But no one can make us step out of them. Only we, our ego selves, can choose to enter the wider Realm of Individuated and Integrated Chickenhood and become sovereign over our own lives.
Hmmm… do you suppose that’s why the chicken crossed the road?
For a delightfully humorous take on why the chicken crossed the road from the perspective of philosophers through the ages, click on the link below. I guarantee a laugh or two: