A Personal Reflection on Mindful Blogging and the Ego.

Via John Pappas
on Aug 29, 2010
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I came across this article earlier this summer and found several disturbing truths about my blogging and how I let my filthy ego drive it around recklessly like a teenager in a new car.

This seems especially topical for anyone that follows a Buddhist path and blogs (think of it as “Right Hobby”),  so I thought I would apply some of the signs that my ego is having far too much of say in what and how I write and share them with you. This is me reflecting on my own blogging and experience and is not meant as a silent jab at any number of bloggers (both ego and non-ego driven) out there that I read, enjoy discussions and/or throw tantrums at.  This is also not meant as an example of how to blog ~ I am full of ego and the self-reflection was useful.

  1. You want to be on TOP; better than the rest. ~ Not so much.  I really have never had any expectation of “Sweep”, or any other blog of mine, to be more than a simple and hopefully engaging, practice blog.  I can admire that many people out there have amazing writing skills, intuition and a knowledge-base that far exceeds mine.  I will grant my self the humble honor of being humorous at times but don’t pretend to have ever wanted to be recognized as “the best”.  I am happy enough with expressing these moments as they pass.  And at least my Mom still lets me know that I make her laugh.
  2. You complain because you’re not getting enough comments. ~ I don’t complain but I did and do still yearn after comments.  They make me feel that my writing is engaging enough for others to feel the need to add their own thoughts.  But any marker of success is somewhat ego driven, I suppose, but I still light up when I see someone leave a comment (I then quickly deflate when it is PachenLama or some other troll).
  3. You are jealous of the success of other bloggers. ~ No, but I occasionally feel a pang of the green demon when someone scoops me on topic that I have ruminated over.  Publish or perish, ya know.  But I love to see the success of others.  This falls into Number One of this list.  If you want to be the best, you won’t be happy when others improve or gain some merit.  My personal favorite blogging moment to date is flipping on MSN and seeing a fellow Buddhist Blogger mentioned by Pat Buchanan.  But I also enjoyed being called Momma’s boy by Deepak Chopra and arguing religion with Adam Baldwin on twitter.
  4. You hang out on successful blogs to draw attention to yourself. ~ Ugh…marketing.  And yes, I have.  It is all about intent.  If your intent is to stoke the flames of your own blog versus leaving relevant advice or insight then you are taking the backseat to your ego.
  5. You don’t comment on certain blogs just out of principle. ~ I fall into this one as well but recently I have tried to move more towards actually saying something and not just commenting to comment.  I see it as raising your hand in class.  Do you raise your hand to get your class participation grade improved?  Do you want attention?  Have a joke? Providing encouragement? Or do you have an honest question and seeking an honest answer?
  6. You publish a post because your numbers are dropping. ~ For two years I tried to post 5 times a week.  This was exhausting and I really began to wonder why I was doing it.  I did not like the answer I came up with.  “Because, if I don’t then my numbers will tank and no-one will ever love me and the world will end…cats and dogs living together! Mass Hysteria!”  Just like any daily practice, blogging changes as you grow into new environments and situations.  My current one largely does not leave much time for daily posts and nor do I think I have the energy.
  7. You’re afraid to check your stats or you check them too much. ~ Daily I would check my stats and for the past summer I moved completely away from that aspect of blogging.  I check occasionally but it became too much of a driving reason to my blogging.  Does it matter that I had a huge wave of readers or that no-one was reading a post?  No, it really doesn’t.  Statistics (especially Google Analytics) is just one long rabbit hole.  It is illusionary worth, unless of course if you are trying to sell or promote something, then this tool is very useful.
  8. You log on while you’re still brushing your teeth in the morning (ahem). ~ I try to cut this out of my morning routine.  Before the TV or computer gets flipped on, I practice yoga, do zazen, prostrate and/or chant.  Before distractions when the morning is still pure and open, I practice.  Before I begin thinking, I practice.
  9. You’re offended because so-and-so is commenting on so-and-so’s blog, but not yours. ~ I guess my ego is not competitive because I have never had an issue with people commented on other blogs and not mine.  It sounds awfully similar to the “best friend” syndrome in High School or on Glee.
  10. You feel entitled to leave a comment and take offense if your opinion is disregarded. ~ It irks me when I am ignored or set aside and would much rather my opinion (even if misguided or incorrect) be engaged or provided the opportunity to learn from it or at very least discuss it.  But to take offense at this seems harsh.  Although I still get pissed when someone erases my comment without reason…
  11. You don’t appreciate the time you spend blogging. ~ Well, here is the crux of it.  When it becomes a chore or something that is no longer a positive or at very least an engaging experience, I think we have lost our way.  I saw the drama beginning to outshine the Dharma in my posts.  Drama is fine in moderation.  I can deal with some excitement but not too much excitement.

When I recently switched to a smaller posterous blog and began to just write when motivated or when I really felt there was something to say or express, I found the experience much more liberating and less stagnant.  It was less of a moment of self-promotion and more just a moment.  Sometimes a funny moment, sometimes a serious moment, a painful, loud or defensive moment.

But it seemed that letting the moments come as they may is a much more rewarding and beneficial experience.




About John Pappas

John Pappas is a struggling Zen practitioner with a slight Vajrayana palate (but he won't admit it) stumbling between the relative and absolute through the Buddhist Purgatory otherwise known as the Great Plains of South Dakota. Emerging writer, librarian and aspiring hungry ghost, John spews his skewed perception of the dharma all over his personal blog, Subtle Dharma Mouth Punch as well as on the ephemeral Elephant Journal and occasionally (while having no artistic ability to speak of) on Dharma/Arte. John also loves tacos, homebrew, yoginis and obscure Cthulhu references. You can follow him on twitter under the handle @zendustzendirt


11 Responses to “A Personal Reflection on Mindful Blogging and the Ego.”

  1. Nathan says:

    Hey John-

    This is a reflection. Mindful blogging is difficult, but necessary. Because blogging is so much about putting a personality/opinion out there and “generating traffic” it is VERY easy to fall into this trap.

    But I especially like the one about feeling like blogging is a chore. How many times does doing a job or completing the tasks of life feel like a “chore”?

  2. smithnd says:

    should say "nice reflection."…

  3. Jack Daw says:

    Oh, I agree about the chore. Especially on my personal blog, I began to view my postings in terms of numbers and statistics rather than benefit or generating conversation. But the comments i receive from people concerning how much the blog helps them in their practice really makes the blog more of a love labor rather than life chore.

    Thanks for commenting!


  4. Tor Hershman says:

    I, as the universe’s MOST splendiferously enlightened blogger, felt moi should comment on this post.

    It’s a good one.

    Stay on groovin’ safari,


  5. Lynn Hasselberger says:

    Thanks for this, John! I feel FREE-er now. So true: I get caught up in the pressure to post at least weekly and find that to be confining. If I just let go of that and go about life, I'll be inspired by something I just happen to bump into during the day (an experience, something I read, a funny thing my son says) and words pour out of me. Your words reinforced the need to just be. Cheers!

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  7. integralhack says:

    Just awesome. I've had similar thoughts myself. Thank you for your bravery and honesty in posting them.

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  10. Bob Miller says:

    I don't usually read blogs but I enjoy your articles on Elephant Journal, that's really all I read from you. This was a nice post and self reflection is always good and it seems when someone else is doing it you feel more at ease doing it yourself along with them 🙂 It's a fine line between pure heart arisings and egoi thoughts and maybe they are all the same thing and maybe not. Still working on that one…….

  11. Barbara 不真 says:

    Nice. I often wonder why one would blog, why I blog, why I check stats, why I comment. Why this comment? Good checklist to keep track of intentions. 'Right hobby' indeed.