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Waking up the Western ego with Eastern wisdom

The first episode of Awakening Creative Wholeness series in YouTube. Short teachings and video blogs from growing-up to waking-up through cleaning-up and showing-up.

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Everything in life, all relative, is based on one non-dual conscious split in primary dualism's a small ego subject and objective higher Self or Spirit. Or is it? There are disagreements about this question which itself is a split consciousness.

One example of this shows up how the East and the West have taken opposing views of human growth and development, wholeness. The people in the West live in a dream, believing they are fully wake and that is normal life to build greater and greater ego as individuals and base their lives on material “things”, self-fulfillment, and individual freedom. Instead, the East has tried to escape the ego to higher spirit trying to free themselves from the cycle of birth and death by engaging in mystical experiences. For them the human life is just suffering and temporary.

These two are just opposing views to look at the same whole. The split has happened strongly between Western left brain and Eastern right brain. No matter how much our views are in unconscious separation with one another, none of us would be a functional human without both sides of our brain. As a person raised by the Western mindsets, I am just as embedded with the biases of my environment, but it does not mean we have to be when we realize that and to even realize we also need the right brain.

Our Western societies have mostly been constructed from the endless capacity of human mind to manifest itself in the external world. That is what we “Westerners” tend to call well-being in our societies or creation of new. Of course, the East has also tried to adapt to the Western mindset by following our “Way”. But what has the West taken from the East except the meditation practice? The universal principle of Yin and Yang would be a healthy non-forcing way, the “Wu-Wei” for the West to practice integration of the left and the right brain and human mind at the same time.

Whether people know it or not, but yin and yang practice grow up self-reflection skills, conscious awareness and witnessing and while not knowing, the West has created their own methods to do the same as East to apply this ancient wisdom of human consciousness transformation and integration. This process often receives progressive evolutionary approach of more, more and more while the Eastern view is less, less, and less. So, a very, very simple Taoist integration of the two would be about witnessing the movement like: less, more, less, more, less, more… Do you see, the East uses different words and approaches than the West, but the Eastern and the Western views are still one whole consciousness split in dual perspectives more suitable to local preferences to look at life, themselves, and development.

Downsides of one sided practice

I am critical about Western practices, but only because it is not appreciating wholeness in the moment and who we originally are. To get people back into “reality”, we need to acknowledge that there is conscious and unconscious side in our whole consciousness, it’s individual and collective in the same time and to embody this knowing, human doing needs to return to its origins as human being, to the ever-present wholeness of who one originally is.

"The Western mindset is still looking for “the Way” by growing-up ego-awareness and because of this, our journey the in West is only less than halfway of what “could” be. We really have no idea of what the full potential looks like and we don’t know what is “the Way”.

Still, we so passionately want to find that by doing, growing, developing, evolving, more and more and more…the good intention still needs to integrate the unconscious self to realize wholeness to higher Self or Spirit. That is growing up towards unknown, less familiar parts of Western ego and awareness. This brings more aware perspective and more conscious relationship to all there is, but also helps to integrate the mind.

The Eastern challenge is to learn to verbalize the higher states of being from growing-up perspective for not only interpreting mystical experiences from hundreds or thousands of years old perspectives but also based on our current time. I see that this Eastern approach can also be an integration challenge to Western mediators.

"When preferring witnessing, how subject becomes object, but not integrating the identified objects back into subjects, we are not really growing up."

We may only notice and identify contents and processes of consciousness, but what’s the purpose of that, if we don’t receive any permanent changes from the practice? The mind still needs integration. This partial practice often leads to giving up the meditation practice sooner or later if nothing seems to change in people’s lives. I am not saying that meditation would not bring peace of mind or other health effects too, but when listening to people who have meditated for tens of years and given that up, the reasons often relate to not seeing long-term change which can result from one sided practice without growing-up, cleaning-up or showing-up too as Ken Wilber puts it.

Mystical state experiences can bring realizations and recognition's which generate insights and can lead us to deeper understanding, embodied knowing and to gain more whole perspectives, but that is part of the integrative process of ego awareness. States are not ending, closure or completion of being whole or “awakened”, they are just the beginning of something potentially new emerging that grows-up to confusions, to new realizations of objects, to integrated stages of development and again dissolving themselves into empty ever-present wholeness where new experiences can show up from again and again.

Different ways to look at consciousness

Inspired an author Michael Washburn and his book Ego and the Dynamic Ground, A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development, I found more alignment with my ways to look at human development and validations to my own experiences, hardly acknowledged by any Western developmental teachers. This book carries a strong Jungian perspective of Dynamic-Dialectical paradigm in complementary relationship with Ken Wilber’s structural-hierarchical framework.

Ken Wilber was an intensive meditator himself and it makes sense to me why his approach is more waking-up oriented at least to me, without appreciating the small self (ego-subject) perspective as important. For Ken, development leads ultimately to outcomes beyond all self-hood, where all root illusions of that have finally been dispelled. The small ego-self is not seen as “real” or something needed to be acknowledged. The separate ego-self is a necessary mistake that needs to be outgrown, so it is not a matter of grounding or transforming for Ken but awakening for the fact that there is no such a self at all.

The Dynamic-Dialectical paradigm views the ego-self as real but pseudo-independent self, leading the human evolution ultimately beyond all self-hood where the root illusion of separate ego-self/subject, is dissolved and the true identity is the all-inclusive ultimate unity. The ego-self is seen as a transitional structure to realize ourselves at every level again and again, dying to our previous paradigm and being reborn to new ones. The recognition of the two selves brings higher synthesis to egoic and non-egoic poles of psyche, a union of opposites as power of Dynamic Ground, wholeness.

So, the whole sequence of transition selves must be created and dissolved before reaching selflessness of ultimate unity and being able appreciate that recognition. But the recognition of who we originally are as human beings, is a state experience which can be meditated and experienced at early levels of development. Like I presented earlier, it might still leave people empty and disappointed if the higher aspirations did not meet reality which could be a place of curiosity and more inquiry, regarding that you are aware of growing-up practice.

Yes, Ken is right, but Washburn’s approach is still more experiential based on people’s natural experience during their evolutionary growing-up journey. Washburn’s essential point is, that the human evolution is ultimately leading to outcomes in which the two selves are united as one. Wilber takes ultimate evolutionary direction without messing with “illusory selves” but in practice we still face the illusory selves before the whole ego-self/subject is completely transcended and absorbed by the higher spirit/absolute object. So the core choice between Dynamic-Dialectical paradigm and Structural-hierarchical approaches is, whether there are two selves or none?

I think both are right in their own truths, interpretations, and preferences to look at development so for me it’s more about an inquiry of how to put them together in complementary ways. What could be more real than giving people practical experience which integrates both theories. When the practice proves the theories, theories prove the practice and in that sense Washburn’s approach is closer to mine and the practitioner can use, apply, and live through the practice by holding any theoretical frame they choose. When one receives firsthand, direct experience of something, no more theory is needed to prove it and still the theories can validate the experience. The integration of the Eastern-Western and state-stage experiences is one “ultimate” intention of Self-System Wholeness Approach to bridge the time between the worlds and lead human souls back to “home”.


Kirsi Mäkinen is the Founder of Self-System Wholeness Coaching, Facilitation and Complex Problem-Solving Approach, Awakening Conscious Creation and Integration of Self, System, Shadow and Spirit to Bridge the Time Between the Worlds.

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