WILL – In The E Word you referenced a lot of your personal history. Why do you feel this is important to the book?
CATE – People love other people’s stories. And my story is funny … I mean, what could be funnier than busting your ass for twenty years trying to become enlightened only to realize you can never attain enlightenment and that it’s an impossible quest? It’s the epitome of the cosmic joke.
The other reason I got into my own history is because I’m pretty hard-core talking about the nature of enlightenment and reality in this book. Without knowing my background, without having any insight into the intensity with which I pursued enlightenment for twenty years—you know, living alone in a one-room cabin in the mountains with no indoor plumbing meditating for years on end—readers would likely think, “Who the hell is this person to say these things?” Of course, after reading my story, they still might question the conclusions I come to. But at least they’ll have context!
WILL – No thought, the state of no self, is a state that many spiritual aspirants hope to attain. Is that state initially bliss & joy? If not why is it something that we seek?
CATE – Non-dual awareness is the sweetest, most peaceful state imaginable. I said in the book that the only burden we bear as human beings is our sense of personal identity. And it’s absolutely true. I used to be very attached to being Cate Montana, woman, writer, intelligent human being, spiritual seeker … blah blah blah. Now I couldn’t care less because I’ve realized it’s just a story—an illusion—a bunch of thoughts and memories stored in my brain. And that’s not the real “me.” Hell, the whole story of my life could’ve been downloaded into my brain while I slept one night. How would I even know? And yet, until we see this—until we see how unimportant our personal stories, memories, and thoughts are, we’re trapped in and by them.
WILL – The subtitle of The E Word is: Ego, Enlightenment and Other Essentials. What other essentials? Why do those essentials rank with the grand topics of ego & enlightenment?
CATE – Good question! The book is very much about learning how to expand our sense of self, our sense of awareness of who/what we are. So expansion—that’s one “E” right there. And when I talk about ego expansion, I’m not talking about ego inflation where we get all big-headed about our story and who we think we are. Expansion is the evolution of personal awareness from the narrow sense of personal self called the ego, into a much more unlimited state of awareness that includes a sense of unity with others and all of life called transpersonal consciousness.
Transpersonal consciousness is the middle ground between personal ego and non- egoic transcendent enlightenment. It’s the place where we can experience liberation from the tyranny of the ego while still being ourselves. Which is the problem with enlightenment. In the enlightened state, nobody is left to enjoy being liberated!
The other big “E” is evolution. Humanity is in the midst of evolving into transpersonal consciousness, and a lot of the book is about coaching the reader on how to go about evolving their consciousness into the transpersonal realm. Which is pretty doggone essential if we’re to ever going to create a sane and healthy world!
WILL – Speaking of which, pretty much everyone agrees the world is topsy-turvy right now. People are upset, angry, elated and stranded. We are all looking for some Words Of Wisdom (WOW) right now. SO…
CATE – The greatest wisdom I can share is we all need to take a much deeper dive within. Now is not the time for fluffy spirituality and business as usual. It’s time to get real. It’s also the time for action. But we must come to action with greater consciousness. It’s not enough to know a story about our spiritual nature—it’s time to embody it. And to do that we must finally experience our true nature and learn what the ego is and how to manage it. If we don’t, we’ll simply perpetuate anger, fear and division from our side of the fence—perpetuating the fence and pointing fingers at Big Bad Donald Trump—just at the point in history when we most need to come together and work to find common ground and understanding.
WILL – I have 8 minutes in the morning to devote to something “spiritual”/“mindful”/“meditative” before the electronic world captures me for another day. What can I do?
CATE – Spend that eight minutes focusing on creating at least an hour a day to devote to becoming greater. And get really clear on the fact that you get what you want in life in direct proportion to how much time and effort you put into it. If you want to be part of the crazed, illusion-driven world, go for it. If you want reality, sanity and liberation, go for that.
The ego loves being busy. It’s one of its main fortresses. How self-important is it to only have eight minutes a day to dedicate to being a grand, awakened, compassionate, ecstatic human being? Who stands to benefit the most by being electronically occupied and overly busy, keeping the miserable status-quo intact? The ego.
There’s a wonderful Zen saying that goes something like: You must sit for twenty minutes a day in nature. And if you’re too busy to do that, you should sit for an hour.
WILL – What will you do if the book sells two million copies and you are suddenly a millionaire?
CATE – Ha! Exactly what I’m doing now, teaching and speaking about the ego and enlightenment and making as big a difference in this dream world as I possibly can… just more effectively!
Available at Amazon.com in hardcover and Kindle