The pure undiluted confidence of the uncompromised ego represents an entry in the debit column in the ‘Cosmic Account Book’. It represents an entry in the debit column simply because there is nothing to back it up, nothing of substance behind it. The ego construct has nothing to be confident about – it has nothing to be confident about because it doesn’t actually exist. It can’t make any legitimate claims with regard to existing. It can (and does) make an illegitimate claim it’s true, but that’s where the debit entry comes in.
The ego is an act that we put on; more than this, it is an act that we put on which we then mistake for the real thing. It’s a face that we pull and then – when the wind suddenly changes direction – get permanently stuck with. We can of course put on an act – if we wish – and then imbue this act with the appearance of confidence. We can imbue it (quite legitimately) with the appearance of anything we please. That would be ‘conscious play’ and as such there will be no entry made in the debit column; everything is ‘above board’, after all – everything is above board because no one has lost sight of the truth at any point in the proceedings. We’re putting on an act but we know perfectly well that we are – the thread of connection between ‘us’ and ‘the act that we have put on’ has not been broken.
As we have said, where the ‘debit’ comes in is when this thread is broken and as a consequence the act no longer knows that it is ‘an act’. In this case the play is now ‘unconscious’ – there is play going on but we don’t know it, we’re not aware that what’s happening is only play. In this case, we think that we are the act and so we are confident on this basis, which is therefore a false basis. I am going around being supremely confident on the basis of an illusion, on the basis of this perception that I have that ‘I am what I’m not’! This isn’t going to pan out for the in the way I imagine it will however – it isn’t going to pan out as I imagine it will because there is now the little matter of me paying back the loan that I’ve taken (without knowing that I have) to be considered. This makes an appreciable difference to the story, naturally enough. It makes all the difference in the world!
This corresponds to what Jung says when he makes the point that we will be unfailingly ‘punished’ for the sin of unconsciousness even though we don’t know that we are sinning. We can say (in our defence) that we didn’t know of our sin, but this will not bring about any leniency in the sentence. Nature is never lenient when it comes to the matter of punishing unconsciousness. Talking of ‘sin’ in this way implies the existence of some overarching framework, some external authority, which says we shouldn’t sin (or that we shouldn’t be unconscious) but this is plainly ridiculous. There is no overarching framework, there is no ‘external authority’ – that’s just us projecting, that’s just us assuming (as we always do assume) a polarity that doesn’t exist.
We are on the contrary quite free to borrow from the bank; we are quite free to draw down a loan time any time we want. We are facilitated in this. We are perfectly free to ‘borrow from the bank’ but what we are not free to do is to avoid paying the bank back! Once there is an entry in the debit column, then that debit must be made good by the appropriate payment, the appropriate entry in the credit column. It’s fine for the uncompromised ego-construct to go around perfectly confidently, in other words, even though this confidence is entirely justified, entirely unwarranted. That’s totally OK. The only thing here is that the second act of the play is going to come around before we know it and when it does our hallucinatory confidence is going to be replaced by its exact inverse. Then, instead of the ego that never doubts itself (i.e. the uncompromised shiny-new ego) we get the ego which is constantly doubting itself, which is to say, the compromised (or ‘fatally jinxed’) ego.
This is simply ‘cosmic bookkeeping’ or – as we could also call it – the Law regarding the ‘Preservation of Original Symmetry’. This is the most fundamental Law (or Principle) there is and we hardly need explain it any further – if an electron is produced and so too must be a positron, if the crest of a wave is produced then that straightaway involves the production of a trough. We acknowledge the operation of this principle in the physical universe and so why would we be surprised to discover it at work in the psychological or psychic realm? It is through breaking symmetry that we create structure, but what we find out later on is that we didn’t actually ‘break’ symmetry after all. We only thought we did…
The life of the ego or self always contains these two parts, these two ‘acts of the play’, and this is hardly news to anyone! Don’t we see it going on all around us every day? Isn’t this the stuff of soap dramas the whole world over? If we were to see the life of the ego or self like this then we would be ‘seeing truly’ and all would be tranquil as a result. All would be peaceful. The ego construct however is physiologically or anatomically incapable of ‘seeing truly’ in this way – the ego was born under the sign of Mars, the god of war (so to speak) and tranquillity or lack of conflict is the one thing that it most surely can never know. If there’s one thing we can be sure of is that the ego can never have any relationship with the truth – its very existence depends on the nonexistence of this particular relationship.
What keeps the self or ego going, what enables it to continue striving in the way that it does, is its belief that it is possible for it to successfully avoid the ‘second act’. In its heart (if a mental construct be said to have a heart, which it can’t) it believes that the second act of the play is only for losers, not for winners like it. The euphoric ‘winner ego’ feels that it can always rely on being validated by the universe by virtue of the fact that it is a winner. If the awareness were to dawn on us that, for the mind-created self, the first act is ALWAYS going to be counterbalanced by the second, and that no force on earth, (or in heaven) can ever break (or otherwise manipulate) this balance then at that point the hypnotic spell of ‘identification with the ego’ would be lifted from us. If the life of the self is invariably and inevitably composed of hallucinatory confidence and hallucinatory self-doubt (or hallucinatory pride and hallucinatory shame) in equal measure then there can be no doubt about what this telling us. When we see that the euphoric crest of the wave is always cancelled out by the dysphoric trough then the whole drama of ‘winning versus losing’ (or ‘good luck versus bad luck’) is revealed as being perfectly and sublimely meaningless…