Thursday, September 17, 2009


Reposted from my old blog, simply because I could (and I have no new words to share at this particular moment in time. It's all introspective at the moment, the moment there's energy to be directed outwardly, you'll have it). I hope this is some food for thought. You are not who you think you are ;)


I don't quite go with the Freudian interpretation of ego. That's relevant within a certain paradigm, but the definition I use of ego goes beyond that. I think of it as a false sense of self or, in the words of Eckhart Tolle:

'A conglomeration of recurring thought forms and conditioned mental-emotional patterns that are invested with a sense of "I", a sense of self.'

It's a huge collective dysfunction, a form of insanity that's so common that it's considered 'normal'. It's normal to refer to 'ourselves' as if we are two separate entities: catch yourself the next time you say something like 'I'm proud of myself', 'I said to myself', 'I'm fed up with myself'.

How can there be two selves: "I" and "myself"?!

Because one of them is a fabricated identity consisting of the stories we tell ourselves: ie, this is who I am, this is my past, these are my beliefs, this is the kind of person I am. We form an identity based on 'me and my story', the roles we play consciously or unconsciously, our collective identifications with race, nationality, religion, political allegiances...and we also enhance this sense of self by identifying with our possessions and achievements, our resentments and grudges, our level (or lack) of 'success' and whether we view ourselves as 'more than' or 'less than' others.


The real insanity comes when we try to uphold this false sense of self. The ego constantly needs to be fed. It's always seeking 'more'...more things to identify with, more validation, more opportunities to strengthen itself. It's precarious because in reality it's a phantasm, illusory, so we bolster it by creating 'others', people who oppose your views and ego-identity.

By fighting against them you strengthen your own ego-identity. And so we have a world filled with conflict on both microcosmic (personal, individual) and macrocosmic (global, international) levels. the basic reason wars are fought and so much suffering is inflicted on our fellow man is because we want to be RIGHT and in order to be right we have to make others wrong................

Ego is responsible for the vast majority of suffering on the planet. If we could just let go of our mental stories (and that's really all they are - STORIES), our one would have any cause to fight. We'd celebrate our oneness rather than the illusory separateness and differences.


So how do you get rid of ego? If you fight against your ego I think you might be falling into the trap of ego because you're still in the realm of subject and object (quantum theory now posits what non-dualistic schools have taught for millennia: subject and object are inseparable, are one and the same).

I like Ramana Maharshi's 'self inquiry' technique for transcending ego. You simply ask yourself WHO AM I? Looking within, you try to find this person you think you are, this ego....and you can never find it. Because it doesn't exist. How can you fight against something that doesn't exist? How can you rid yourself of a mere shadow which by virtue of its nature disappears the moment you shine the light of your attention upon it? Therefore fighting the ego isn't necessary...just being aware of it and questioning it and realising how insubstantial and illusory it's nature is is probably quite enough.

It takes a lot of work though, because we've been conditioned to believe in - and act from this 'optical illusion of consciousness' as Einstein put it. Once you make a commitment to move beyond ego you must vigilantly practise self-observation, catching yourself when old patterns such as identifying with a mental story you have about yourself or about other people/life pops up, or when you find yourself playing out old ego struggles, or basing your 'self worth' on what you or others think about you. In fact, having self-worth, self-esteem or self-belief is ultimately kind of ego in itself because you're back to 'me and myself'... (the 'I' of our innate consciousness and the 'me' of our constructed ego). I'm looking at my tropical fish right now. They don't need to have self-esteem of self-worth or certain notions about themselves...they just ARE themselves, no ego, no mental stories. If people could just BE what they are without the need for all their stories and ego-identifications....the world would be a very different place. Nothing to prove, no enemies to fight...

I really recommend the books of Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie for anyone interested in getting over 'themselves'. They are so simply and lucidly put, yet so powerfully transformative. Byron Katie once said that if she could have a bumper sticker which summed up her teachings it would be CTRL+ALT+DEL. You probably need to put her 'Work' into practise before you'd understand the relevance...but it's really about getting out of the stories in your head. Buddha noted that with our mind we make the world and that's so true. If the stories in your head are painful, you're gonna live in a painful world. When you ditch the stories you are free to simple BE and enjoy life for what it is.

As a very wise someone once said to me, you aren't going to have any interest in moving beyond ego until you've suffered enough, until you've realised that it's Groundhog Day, the same patterns, the same needs and craving and attachments and aversions over and over and OVER again...and there's no end in sight and - no matter how much you seek and strive and accomplish - it's never enough to satisfy that need for 'more'. It's a painful realisation. It's not until you've suffered enough that you realise there's no peace in ego. And I guess until you get to that point, everything I've just said will be meaningless...but that's alright too......


Julie said...

Groundhog Day - yes! Ego = the apparent one that thinks it's Her and thinks you're You. The separator. I think that's supposed to be funny, but today I'm have a grumpy Time of it. Time. That *is* funny.

GaySocrates said...

Yes-I like the allowance you make for those not ready to understand!

k-alanzi said...

Excellent post!

Rory said...

Thank you for your comments :)