Ego & the Racoon

August 28, 2023

Chapter 4

The Raccoon

The natural world has always served as a mirror, reflecting back to us aspects of our own human nature and behavior. One such fascinating reflection can be observed in the behavior of the raccoon, a creature known for its curiosity, adaptability and most notably its tendency to cling to shiny objects. This seemingly innocuous behavior bears a striking resemblance to human tendencies to cling to negative emotions or egoic tendencies, a parallel that warrants a deeper exploration. This chapter aims to delve into the intricacies of this parallel, examining the underlying reasons for this tendency, its manifestations in daily life and potential pathways towards transcending this self-imposed trap.

The ego’s parasitic grip on an individual is akin to a cancer leading to spiritual despair and suffering, it manifests in daily life by holding onto negative emotions and beliefs which reinforce its sense of identity and significance. It resists releasing these attachments, oblivious to the fact that this leads to its own demise. Similar to a cancer the ego proliferates uncontrollably alienating the individual from the larger whole resulting in isolation and disconnection. Ultimately, the individual is faced with a choice: let go of the ego or plunge into spiritual hopelessness. Acknowledging the ego’s destructive nature and releasing its grip facilitates ascending to a higher state of consciousness connected to the larger whole and liberated from spiritual suffering.

Trapping a Raccoon Using a Shiny Object and a Hole in a Log

In the wild, raccoons are often found clinging to shiny objects, a behavior that while seemingly harmless can lead to their entrapment. Captivated by the allure of a shiny object, the raccoon will grasp it tightly in its paws, refusing to let go even when faced with danger. This behavior mirrors the human tendency to cling to negative emotions, past traumas or egoic tendencies, a grip that often leads to a metaphorical entrapment in cycles of suffering and self-limitation.

Raccoons, Procyon lotor are highly intelligent and curious creatures found in North America. They are nocturnal, omnivorous and have a keen sense of sight, smell and touch and heir dexterity and ability to manipulate objects with their paws are comparable to primates. Raccoons are often considered pests as they raid garbage bins, damage property and carry diseases like rabies. Trapping raccoons is sometimes necessary to prevent them from causing harm or becoming a nuisance, a classic method involves using a shiny object and a hole in a log, let’s explore how and why this works and why the raccoon won’t let go of the object once trapped.

The Method

Choose a log with a hole about 4 inches in diameter, large enough for the raccoon to insert its paw but not big enough for the entire animal to enter. Their curiosity often leads them to investigate and collect items like aluminum foil, coins or any metallic objects. Select an object that is large enough to not pass through the hole in the log entirely but small enough for a raccoon to grab it. Place it inside the hole in the log and ensure the object is visible and partially protruding from the hole to attract the raccoon’s attention then place the log in an area frequented by raccoons like near a garbage bin or a known raccoon path. Though the shiny object will attract the raccoon, adding bait will increase the chances of success. Place food like marshmallows, wet cat food or fish near the hole to entice the raccoon.

The raccoon is attracted to the shiny object and the smell of the bait. When it approaches the log, it will use its highly dexterous paws to grab the object. Raccoons have a natural instinct to grab and hold onto objects especially when they perceive them as valuable or intriguing. This instinctual behavior mirrors the way humans often cling to negative emotions or egoic tendencies even when it causes them suffering.

Once the raccoon grabs the object it will try to pull its paw out of the hole. However, the object is too large to pass through the hole entirely and the raccoon’s clenched paw makes it even larger. Despite this, the raccoon will not let go of the object as its natural instinct to hold onto valuable items overrides its logic. This behavior is similar to the ‘monkey trap,’ where a monkey traps itself by grabbing a fruit inside a narrow-necked container and refusing to let go.

The raccoon will continue to hold onto the object, effectively trapping itself. It will struggle and may even try to use its other paw or mouth to free itself, but as long as it holds onto the object it will remain trapped. Trapping a raccoon using a shiny object and a hole in a log leverages the animal’s natural curiosity and instinct to hold onto items it perceives as valuable.

Despite the humane intentions behind this trapping method, there exists a dark hypothetical scenario where the raccoon meets a tragic end because of its inability to let go of the shiny object.

In this scenario, the raccoon, entranced by the shiny object and driven by its natural instincts, firmly grabs onto the object placed inside the hole of the log. Despite its struggles and the increasing realization that it is trapped, the raccoon’s instinctual drive to hold onto what it perceives as valuable overrides its logical thinking. As time passes the raccoon becomes more desperate and exhausted, but still it does not let go of the object.

As the hours go by, the raccoon may become dehydrated, hungry and increasingly stressed. If the weather is harsh, exposure to the elements could exacerbate its condition. Predators, sensing an easy target might also pose a threat. In this grim scenario, the raccoon, weakened and unable to defend itself or escape ultimately succumbs to exhaustion, exposure or predation.

The irony of this situation lies in the simple fact that freedom was always within reach for the raccoon. If it had only let go of the shiny object it could have easily withdrawn its paw from the hole and escaped the trap but the powerful instinct to hold onto valuable objects, honed over millions of years of evolution tragically proves to be the raccoon’s undoing.

This scenario serves as a reminder of the power of natural instincts and the importance of considering the potential unintended consequences of our actions and sets the stage for a deeper exploration of how clinging to negative traits or emotions, much like the raccoon clings to the shiny object can lead to our own spiritual downfall.

Ego-Consciousness: The Trap of Spiritual Descent

The ego, like the raccoon trapped by its own inability to let go of a shiny object can drag an individual down into the depths of spiritual despair and suffering or into ‘hell,’ depending on one’s interpretation. Let’s explore the analogy between the trapped raccoon and ego-consciousness and how letting go of the ego can lead to freedom and ascension to a higher state of consciousness. Much like the raccoon’s grip on a shiny object, the ego clings to certain thoughts, emotions and beliefs, often negative ones that reinforce its sense of identity and importance. For example, a person might cling to past traumas, perceived injustices or feelings of inadequacy all of which serve to reinforce the ego’s narrative of victimhood, resentment or self-doubt.

Just like the raccoon trapped by its instinctual desire to hold onto a shiny object our ego traps us in a cycle of desire, unhealthy attachments to validation and suffering, the more we cling to our ego the more we are ensnared in this cycle. As it fuels our fears and insecurities we become attached to our self-image and fear anything that threatens it which reinforces our attachment to our ego creating a feedback loop that keeps us trapped and our fear of letting go of it is what prevents us from ascending to a higher state of consciousness.

To break free from the trap one must learn to let go, this does not mean eradicating ego entirely as it is a necessary component of our psychological makeup that helps us navigate the world, instead it means loosening it’s grip on our decisions, actions and consciousness by not identifying with it as our true selves. Letting go involves recognizing that our true nature is not limited to the narrow confines of ‘I,’ ‘me,’ and ‘mine’ and instead it involves realizing that we are all part of a vast and interconnected web of existence, that our true nature is pure consciousness free from unhealthy attachments and identifications.

This realization fosters a transformative shift in perspective. In this evolved state one is liberated from the chains of fear, unhealthy attachments and excessive desires, blossoming instead into a being that embodies freedom, peace and a deep sense of interconnectedness with the tapestry of existence.

Achieving this liberation is no easy endeavor; it demands the courage to face and release deep-seated fears and attachments. Essential to this journey is a dedication to inner work which encompasses self-awareness and reflection. Employing tools such as meditation, mindfulness and self-inquiry can be immensely beneficial aiding individuals in transcending the confines of their constructed identity to resonate with their true unbounded nature.

As we gradually release these burdens we transition from a realm of fear and isolation into a nurturing space of unconditional love and compassion. We come to the beautiful realization that we are not isolated entities but essential components of the vibrant mosaic that is our world. This newfound understanding fosters a profound sense of oneness igniting a passionate desire to contribute positively and meaningfully to the world around us.

Drawing parallels with the raccoon ensnared by its longing for a shiny object we observe how our own pride can similarly entrap us, steering us down a path marred by spiritual descent and suffering. Recognizing this self-imposed barrier as a mere construct of the mind and not a representation of our true self empowers us to break free from this cycle.

By choosing to release this conceptual image of self we pave the way to ascend to a heightened state of awareness. It’s a journey toward unveiling our intrinsic nature, characterized by pure, limitless consciousness untainted by negative patterns and liberated from self-imposed limitations. This path of enlightenment invites us to break free from the shackles of conceit and to harmoniously unite with the expansive and interconnected dance of existence and embrace our genuine selves which is a voyage of discovery into the depths of our beings where we may find boundless love, unprecedented freedom and a profound connection to the world that surrounds us, it is here we find that we are not just spectators but active participants in a universe that is as much a part of us as we are of it.

The Ego’s Hold on an Individual: A Parasitic Grip Leading to Spiritual Despair

The tendency to cling to egoic tendencies manifests in various ways in daily life. For instance, one might hold onto grudges, replaying past conflicts in their mind and feeding feelings of anger and resentment while others might cling to a self-image of inadequacy, constantly comparing themselves to others and seeking validation from external sources. Similarly, some might cling to a need for control, becoming overly anxious and stressed when faced with uncertainty. These manifestations while seemingly disparate all stem from the same root cause, the ego’s grip on negative emotions and beliefs that reinforce its sense of identity and importance. The ego’s hold on an individual can be likened to a parasite that ultimately kills its host. Just as a cancerous tumor invades the body, unaware that its existence leads to the demise of the host and consequently itself, the ego clings to survival, draining its host’s spiritual resources and ultimately leading to spiritual despair and suffering.

The ego by its very nature refuses to let go and is constructed of a series of attachments, beliefs and identifications that define one’s sense of self. These attachments serve a purpose up to a point, providing a sense of identity and security in a complex world. However, the ego is not self-aware and does not realize that by clinging to these attachments, it dooms itself to extinction. It operates under the illusion that its survival is paramount and does everything it can to maintain its grip on the individual’s consciousness.

It’s survival is paradoxical because it does not recognize that by not letting go it is actually sealing its own fate, if our ego were to let go and allow the individual to ascend to a higher state of consciousness it could exist in balance with the rest of the being. Instead, much like cancer loses sight of the fact that it is part of a larger whole and develops its own unique identity separate from the larger system and this separation leads to an imbalance that ultimately results in suffering and despair for oneself and others.

Comparing the ego to a cancer is appropriate because, like a cancer, the ego proliferates uncontrollably draining the host’s resources and culminating in their eventual decline. A cancer, if it did not exhibit parasitic behavior, would simply coexist harmoniously with its host. However, a cancer disregards its role in the broader system and develops its own distinct identity, much like the ego, which proliferates uncontrollably and consumes resources similar to the ego’s quest for control, attention and validation, resulting in the host’s demise.

In a related vein, like any organ in the body the ego serves a useful function initially, in this case offering a sense of identity and security. However, once it becomes overly dominant it loses sight of its position in the broader context and transforms into a destructive entity. The ego, overwhelmed by its own desires and fears ensnares the soul in a cycle of spiritual anguish. It isolates the individual from the broader whole, inducing feelings of solitude and detachment.

Ultimately, the choice lies with the individual. Will they identify and excise the ego from their consciousness or will they allow it to drag them down into the spiritual depths for eternity? It is not just the physical body that dies, but the soul, trapped in ego consciousness, fails to be part of the larger whole. Consumed by the ego, the soul believes it is singular and separate from the whole. This belief, reinforced by thoughts, manifestations, prayers and visions, culminates in the reality that the ego is separate from the whole and the individual trapped by it becomes separate as well.

The Ten Lotus Petals of the Inner Self: A Guide to Liberation from Self-Centered Tendencies

In various spiritual traditions, the lotus flower stands as a beacon of purity, enlightenment and rebirth. Rising from the mud to breach the water’s surface it symbolizes the transformative journey from ignorance to enlightenment. This rich imagery lends itself to the concept of the ‘ten lotus petals of the inner self’ which symbolizes the ten tendencies that one must discard to elevate to a heightened state of awareness.

Cultivating self-awareness, mindfulness and self-compassion is pivotal in this endeavor. These tools empower individuals to assess their thoughts and emotions without judgment and to detach from them harmoniously. Mindfulness facilitates the identification and understanding of responses to various triggers while self-compassion guides individuals to treat their struggles with kindness and understanding, rather than self-criticism and judgment.

Observing the behaviors of a raccoon provides a profound reflection of human nature and the tendencies rooted in pride and self-centeredness that often lead to our metaphorical entrapment. This creature teaches the importance of releasing one’s grip on destructive habits, a lesson that when applied ushers in a deeper sense of freedom and fulfillment.

Shedding the Petals of Negative Self-Identification

  1. Sadness: To rise above the cycle of suffering that comes with over-identifying with sadness allow yourself to acknowledge and experience your feelings without being tethered to them.
  2. Foolishness: Refrain from unwise decisions by nurturing wisdom through self-reflection, learning and seeking guidance from sagacious individuals.
  3. Delusion: Banish self-deception through self-inquiry and a genuine desire to understand both oneself and the surrounding world truly.
  4. Disgust: Cultivate acceptance and compassion, striving to appreciate rather than reject the differences in others.
  5. Fear: Counteract paralyzing fear by confronting it courageously and fostering a sense of inner safety and security.
  6. Shame: Heal from shame by practicing self-compassion and forgiveness, addressing past wounds head-on.
  7. Treachery: Renounce manipulative tendencies by embracing honesty and integrity, thereby building trust in yourself and others.
  8. Jealousy: Alleviate jealousy by nurturing gratitude and celebrating others’ successes, focusing on your personal growth and accomplishments.
  9. Ambition: While ambition can be a driving force, unchecked it can foster stress and dissatisfaction. Find joy in the present and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.
  10. Ignorance: Combat ignorance by fostering curiosity and a willingness to learn and comprehend the complex world around you.

The journey towards self-actualization and spiritual enlightenment demands concerted effort and commitment to self-exploration and nurturing compassion. It is a personal pilgrimage toward releasing the restrictive hold of self-centered tendencies and realizing one’s potential as a being of limitless consciousness.

By consciously choosing to free ourselves from the bondage of pride and conceit, we pave the way for a life marked by deeper connections, fulfillment and inner peace. Drawing inspiration from the raccoon’s lesson of release let us question whether we wish to remain ensnared by our self-centered tendencies or rise above them, reaching a transcendent state of awareness, attuned with the grandeur of the collective whole. The path of liberation lies before us, inviting us to transcend the limitations of the inner self and embrace the purity and freedom awaiting at the journey’s end. It is a path of conscious choice, one that recognizes the destructive potential of our negative tendencies and willingly releases them ushering in a higher state of existence grounded in unity and peaceful co-existence. It is a choice we must consciously make, embracing the potential for renewal and growth inherent in each one of us.