One of the most difficult tasks to overcome as someone conscious of my role in the relationships I’ve fostered throughout my life is working with my ego. We are all born into a world of things we inherently are attracted to and those we shun as we identify them as sources of pleasure or suffering, and it is through that discrimination that we end up with the frame of reference we carry around with us. It is through that frame of reference that we end up processing everything that occurs around us to determine whether we find it pleasing or not, whether we “accept” it or not. And that’s when the ego kicks in. That’s when the judgement occurs, when the separation and duality settles in, keeping me and my true essence separate from the scenarios unfolding around me. It is this exact process that is the root cause of ALL suffering in the world, so it’s no surprise that attacking the ego and the grip it exerts on us on an individual level constantly proves to be nearly insurmountable.
The most hashed-around advice that constantly gets regurgitated is to detach from the ego. Let go of it. The nucleus of that advice is brilliant, actually. We should all be able to let go of the ego, to allow the dividers that keep us separate from every other thing in existence on the planet to crumble. We should be focusing on what binds us together instead of what separates us. That is the ultimate ambition – to identify the essence of all things as the unifying factor FOR all things, and, ultimately, the source of energy that we stem from and that we’ll ultimately return to. But if we really think about it, telling someone to detach from their ego is like asking someone who has never gone jogging before to throw on a pair of runners and then run a marathon. The exceptional among us will be able to do it, but the rest of us who need measurable goals will fall short and get discouraged in the process. So for all of you doing that incredibly relevant ego-work, here’s what I have to offer you: instead of telling yourselves that you have to detach from the ego, why not ask yourselves to simply detach from the selfishness of the ego? Confused? Keep reading.
Yes, the ego is responsible for suffering. When we pursue that which the ego deems pleasing and it eludes us, we suffer. When we don’t get the ego stroke we so rabidly seek out, we suffer. When we are used to getting the ego stroke and it all of a sudden ceases to rise up to meet us, we suffer. But the ego can also be a source of love and confidence and vision and determination and light. So why not re-focus our efforts on decontaminating the ego by removing the selfish desires that motivate our behaviours? Instead of pursuing that which we alone benefit from, why not make a concerted effort to tap into the essence of love and beauty and truth wherever we can find it? The goal is not to feed ourselves with that essence, but to contribute to and reconnect to it, where and when we find it, so that we’re giving, not taking. The ego, be definition, is limitation, and it limits us from seeing that true essence as our true identity. So our work is really in identifying that essence in everything around us. That’s measurable. That’s something we can work towards and introduce into our approach to life. It’s also a step closer to a place of truth where we shed our sense of separateness, so that we can ultimately achieve a state of non-duality, of true unity. Because that’s what it’s all about. Changing the way we identify and approach the world around us will change the way we live, and that’s what we all seem to be doing on some level regardless…we just need the right tools to do it.
Hi Bram! How are you? lovely to read you once again : )
In the jivamukti tt, the teachers never really talked about the ego much (that I can remember), which to me means we should just not be too much concerned with it. Davidji mentioned the ego in Q&A once, and it was sounding like this: that the ego is part of the personality that helps us survive in this world, and relate to others. What it means is if we really detach with the ego, or any sense of what defines us, than we are everything and nothing, then we would be ready to die, and we would be a bunch of sitting yogis not sharing and acting for the benefits of all. For the first time when Davidji spoke about the ego, it made sense to me, because often the ego is viewed as being “evil” in whatever books on spirituality. It all depends on the perspective we have of something, I love to shift teachers like yourself give a spin on life for all of us. May I say that most of the time, I feel I am so dumb beyond words when I am around people, god I know so little and feel so much. Whatever that means. They mention intention all the time, that speaks for itself, to be an observer and serving others. That is what I felt to share with you on this. Love you