I find this a very fascinating subject to write about the ego.
The question is, what is the Ego?
My interpretation is that the ego is our idea of ourselves, the person we imagine ourselves to be. The ego is the result of years of conditioning from birth to where you are now. Everything people have said to you, everything you have been shown, everything you have seen and heard and believed has formed this idea of the person you think yourself to be.
I love the Guy Ritchie film, Revolver. The film explores the themes about what the ego is, even going as far as making out it is a separate entity , something that resides in our thoughts and convinces itself that it is us. It owns this world because it is in every man, woman and child and it calls the shots.
Some spiritual experts have even gone as far as comparing the ego to the devil. In the scriptures the Devil is represented as the personification of evil. His one greatest sin being pride, while God is the light, is all things good. But if we are all made up of the same energy and are the same conciousness which makes each and every one of us God, then is the ego really the devil?
Our false self that keeps us grounded and limited ?
The guardian that stands at the door to our enlightenment ?
The late Dr Wayne Dyer said the ego defines us by several things. It says ‘I am who I am because of….
What I own
Many of us always believe that the more material items we own, the more likely we are to be accepted by others. Some of us base our entire existence on what we own and the ego fuels us with the belief that more is better . But in reality all we are doing by spending more, accumulating more is like feeding a junkie’s drug addiction.
The single greatest illusion we chase and the single greatest item the ego yearns for is money . The more money we accumulate, the greater our status and standing in society is. The more material stuff we can buy. But that hunger to own more is never satisfied and never will to the ego.
What I do
When you ask anyone who they are they will likely tell you their names and most likely their job title . That is how many of us believe we are in this whole wide universe . We are our names and job. But again , that is the ego speaking , putting us in that small box of perception when in truth, the many great spiritual teachers of this world believe we are much, much more .
What I know
The ego defines also on what we know. But it is stubborn in a way that if it accepts something as truth, then any other information it rejects. The classic example is people in a religion. They have already accepted that what they know and learned from their system of thought and belief is the truth and the ego closes the mind to any other possibilities out there . Most great philosophers throughout the ages were very open-minded people . Sur, they developed their beliefs at what they discovered , but most still knew that in the grand scheme there is still so much to discover .
What people think of me
This is the horrible fear that plagues a lot of people in this day and age.I suffered from this fear myself and it was a wonder after twenty-five years of writing as a hobby I was ever able to get any of my work to the world stage. I always dreamed of getting my work published but was always afraid to do so mainly because I was afraid of what others would think of me.
When I look back on my life, I find it amazing yet disappointing that I based my entire perception of life on what others thought about me. Every time I wanted to do something with my life I was always handcuffed by that fear of what others will think.
I can understand the majority of us don’t want to displease others or make others mad, especially our families. But if we don’t take control of our life, others will most definitely will and the ego will blindly go along with it because like a frightened predator, it does not want to be discovered.
It took years for me before I finally reached the stage where I said ‘Stuff it!’ and decided to just go ahead and do what I needed to do, what I wanted to do. As long as what I wanted to do did not interfere with what others wanted to do with their lives I felt I was doing no wrong. Believe me, there is great freedom once you overcome your fear of what others think. Even though I face a lot of ridicule and criticism for my views and beliefs, it does not affect me as much as it use to. Lets face it, the people you normally stress about and dread, find hard to relate to. Those that give you the most criticism will not be around in a hundred years time. It will be all new people .
Most importantly the ego says I am separate from everyone and everything.
The ego believes in separateness. It convinces us that we are alone in this thing called life and that in order to experience happiness and love and become accepted we need to define ourselves to others by what we own, what we do, what we know and winning people’s opinions about us. But even if we succeeded in doing all those things, it still makes us think we are alone.
So you see, the ego is the cause of all our suffering and pain. It takes us away from the one thing that matters in this world to us, the moment and always pushes our minds into the past with its parade of regrets and guilt and then the future with all the anxiety and fear of the unknown that comes with it. We have to realise that the ego is not who we are. It is the idea we have about ourselves, the imagination of who we really are. When we hurt and are in pain emotionally and mentally, it’s not us that really hurts, only the person we imagine ourselves to be.
The ego is never worth defending yet so many people in this world would go to great lengths to defend theirs.
Is it any wonder there is so much conflict in the world?
Our greatest test in life is overcoming the limitations of the ego and embracing who we really are. That is the test, the true battle each and every one of us must undertake. It is the classic battle of good and evil , the battle of our true selves versus our false self. It is only when we overcome the limitations of the ego that we find our greatest prize, enlightenment .
Until next time…..