Question: “As Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote from “Eat, Pray, Love” [in my intro ] illustrates, New Age practitioners – like Deepak Chopra and Gilbert – teach that the human soul is “God Within”, the already-perfected “Higher Self” (“just as you are”). Talk about deifying your ego! You wrote about coming to realize the falsehood of the idea that the soul is already perfected without the need for purification in your book. Tell us what you discovered and how.” Kevin Allen, Ancient Faith Radio
“I discovered that my ego was actually connected to my soul during my first Great Lent in the Orthodox Church. I was reading, A Spiritual Life, by St. Theophan the Recluse, and struggling spiritually. The fasting, prayer and liturgical structure of Great Lent, especially during the first week, Purification Week, was a challenge for me on every level. I was so new to Orthodoxy and had not yet completely stepped away from many of the beliefs of I had adopted during my twenty plus years in the New Age.
One such belief was about my soul. As a New Age teacher and practitioner, I had believed and taught that my soul, my Higher Self, was perfect, like God. During the first week of evening prayers in Lent we chant, ‘My soul, my soul, my soul why are thou sleeping? The end is approaching and soon thou shall be troubled. Awake therefore, that Christ our God, may save thee. Who art everywhere and present and fillest all things.’
These words did not make sense to me from my New Age prespective. However, as I was continued on my Lenten journey and was reading parts of St. Theophan’s description of the lower aspects of our soul, I realized that my soul was not the perfected being I thought it to be. I truly thought my higher self/my soul was on top of things and looking out for me. Not so!
From my book:
‘I had revered my soul as my personal God. Why would I need God, if my soul thinks it is perfect? The Freudian definition of the ego is flawed, I learned, for it bypasses the relationship of the soul to our ego; in truth, our soul is as much a part of our lower nature as the ego…St.Theophan emphasized that there was a distinction between feeling good (a lower expression of the soul) and truly experiencing the Holy Spirit…Many New Age practices are …based on trusting your own feelings and intuitions, without regard for where the trust is being placed.’
The soul is compelled to seek something higher than itself because of its innate connection with its creator, however, because our senses and imagination are part of the lower aspect of the our soul, the soul become attached to it’s survival and comfort at the same time disconnected from it’s spirit and God. Then demons take advantage of our sou/ego for their purposes, encouraging our imaginings and senses, using them, building on them, and reinforcing what ‘feels good’ vs ‘what is good and comes from God’ . Because we lack true spiritual discernment, we are lured further into error through false states of spiritual ecstasy.
I thought the states of ecstasy that I was transported into while chanting mantras and meditating during Eastern initiation rites were blessed spiritual experiences, not so!
What I was experiencing was the same high one experiences when intoxicated. The ‘spiritual ecstasy’ I was experiencing feed my lower soul and my sensual appetites, not my spirit. In a sense I was captured just as someone on drugs, slowly seduced to the dark side of the occult through the stimulation of the lower senses of my soul[i].
This ecstasy I experienced is called fancy, a form of deception in which the devil offers spiritual seekers exalted religious feelings.
Quoting St. Ignatius regarding this state of deception, “It is satisfied with the invention of counterfeit feelings and states of grace, from which there is born a false wrong conception of the whole spiritual undertaking… it constantly invents pseudo-spiritual states, an intimate companionship with Jesus, an inward conversation with him, mystical revelations, voices, enjoyments… from this activity the soul receives a sinful, deceiving movement, which presents itself as a grace-given delight.
The whole foundation upon which I had based most of my New Age experiences was demolished! I was in a state of spiritual shock, for I realized I had been deceived for years!
[i] These lower senses of the soul are captured by our negative passions: our lusts and ego driven desires and our soul is completely deceived by them.