Why a hard-boiled egg?
Because it’s what we should all aspire to be.
An egg is a beautiful thing. In its simplicity and purity, in its economy of design and brilliant use of materials. An egg is perfect at what it does, no messing about. That’s a great thing in itself.
But last year I realised that an egg can be a metaphor for our spiritual development, too.
Think of the shell as the ego (is that really a coincidence, God? – because I know you invented all the words) and the inside of the egg as our natural, essential ‘self’. I know it can be debated whether such a thing as the self actually exists, but let’s leave that for another time…
Most of us are raw eggs. The ego shell is essential to our self’s integrity. Without the shell, we collapse, dissipate, go all runny, perhaps die or get scrambled. That’s a terrifying prospect and so we all try to maintain the ego shell – no cracks or chips, no challenges to the shell of identity, composed of our history, beliefs, voting habits, eating habits, what we wear, who we sleep with. It’s the image we hold of our own selves and the one that we would like other people to think of as ourselves. But in reality it’s just a thin, fragile capsule and all the ‘real’ things about ourselves that we don’t like to look too hard at are slooshing around inside it. Things we are scared of, like rage, pain, dissent. Things we might love, like silliness, clear-sightedness, an outrageous dress sense. We don’t really know because we mostly don’t look and just spend a lot of time polishing the shell real nice.
But an enlightened person is a hard-boiled egg. The enlightened person has integrity of the self with or without the shell. She knows that all the elements of the ego can crack and fall off, but her yolk will stay in place. The exposure of the essential self will not destroy the enlightened person. In some way, by some method, the egg has been ‘cooked’ and the self accepted. A huge amount of time and energy, once spent maintaining the shell can now be freed up for other stuff, I imagine. Whatever stuff the enlightened individual wants to do – meditating, kite surfing, dressing outrageously, whatever.
How does it happen? I’m not sure. But I want to get cooked and I’m trying everything I can think of. Except for jumping into boiling water, I’m going to save that for a very, very last resort.