“Why is the ego created if it causes so much sorrow and pain throughout the world?” a student recently asked.
“Good question,” I replied. I pondered this for a moment and then said, “We are the ones that create the ego.”
The student was shocked and dismayed at this statement and said: “Why would I create something so horrible?”
“It seems that it’s in our nature to create this false self, but this has a purpose. It points us to the other side,” I said.
This concept of killing or eradicating the ego is the basis of many religions, philosophies and practices. Eradicate the S.O.B. and you’ll be free to live a peaceful, happy and contented life. This could be the greatest delusion of them all. What if we need the ego to guide us to the other side? What if there is a distinct purpose of the ego to point us to our own inner truth? If there is no ego, there is no seeing yin from yang, or left from right. There is a way that we can use the ego to navigate our way back home, but first we must understand its origins.
If you spend any time with brand new babies, you can see they have no clue that they exist.
If you plop a little guy or girl in front of a mirror, they will think their refection is another baby. They are perfectly content to play with this new pal until they poop their pants or drop off to sleep, whichever comes first. We can plainly see that they have no self-awareness and think that the baby in the mirror is real.
Now without getting all pseudo-scientific, we can see that babies have no idea they are separate from the rest of the world. They don’t have the cerebral space or knowledge to understand the fact of a separate self. They must develop the concepts of “I” from nothing. This is where we started before we created the concept of a separate self. We started with nothing. We need to see that we already know all this; we have just forgotten the wisdom before knowledge.
Science has been looking into how the brain works for many years and what they have learned is amazing.
They can identify many parts of the brain including where we store memories and where the pleasure and pain centers reside. They can also see how the brain has neural pathways that transmit information to other parts of the body and inside the brain itself, but they can’t find the “self,” or the origin of what we call “me.” It seems that we don’t exist from a scientific view.
We have something inside us all that causes us to seek. We begin the journey of finding our self, and in some cases, to get rid of the ego, all in the hopes of enlightenment, peace and joy. Here is where the long and winding road of awakening and discovery begins, in the mind itself.
I want to pose a question here. What if we are going about this in the wrong way? What if we dare to look at this approach a little closer? Upon examination, we may be going about this like a diamond thief trying to steal his own diamonds. Imagine if a thief creatively devised a plan to break into his own personal safe to steal his private collection of gems, all without knowing it? It makes no sense when we look at it this way.
We can’t use the mind that created the problem to solve the problem.
We must go beyond that mindset. And it really doesn’t matter why we created this ego; all that really matters is that we see the true self separate from the false self and understand that we are the architect. If we peel back the layers of delusion one by one, we will eventually reach the core.
So how do we get the diamonds from ourselves without knowing our gems are being taken?
That’s the real question. How do we get back what is rightfully ours? Once we grasp the concept that we are the architects of our own egos and that there is no one to awaken, then we can get to work. This ego was created by us and built brick by brick over our lifetime. We gathered all the experiences, opinions, thoughts, wants, needs and desires, and put them away carefully under the file called, “Me, mine and I.” We may have created the monster, but it is not us. We didn’t willingly create our own torturer, it just happened that way. We must accept that, and then move forward.
Knowing what is ego and what is not is a good place to start and it’s simple really. The ego is the part of the mind that wants, needs and desires. It’s all about: “What’s in it for me?” It is the manufacturer of fear, delusion, vanity and desire. It needs, needs, needs, wants, wants, wants, and it believes that it is God. It’s the original false idol. But I know a secret. It’s really a fragile little thing and it knows this. It understands its own vulnerabilities and weaknesses. That is why it has created a fortress of protection, so that it may defend itself.
When we discover the ego’s soft underbelly, it throws up even more defenses and uses more weapons like distraction, addiction, boredom, drinking, drug use or overeating.
Seeing the truth of who we are not, weakens the ego’s hold on things. This is when we can begin to create new habits and in doing this, the old habits simply fall away. By creating the new habits we can loosen the ego’s hold on us and begin to discover the real self.
What new habits can you cultivate to begin this journey or add to your existing arsenal of awakening?
If you are not already doing this, a simple stillness practice of only a few minutes a day can work wonders and you can do it anywhere.
Using Difficult Situations to Become Aware of Old Habits And Conditioning:
- Simply notice that you are tense without judgment.
- Become aware of your body. Where are you tensing, grasping, trembling?
- Notice your breathing and consciously breathe from your belly.
- Relax the tensions in your body.
- Notice the thoughts and let them flow by like clouds in the sky and bring your attention back to your breath.
The breath is our anchor, our home base for wherever we are and whatever is happening in our lives. By putting into practice the simple awareness of breath, we can transform ourselves and begin to live more happy and peaceful lives.
Robert Jackson is a spiritual teacher who founded the podcast, “A Quiet Mind” in 2005. Robert had a profound spiritual insight that lead him to investigate the truth or who we are, why we are here and what happens when we die. Robert is also an accomplished musician and artist. He loves animals, meditation and nature.