The Crisis Called EGO
What is the EGO?
The Ego for our definition is based of a strong identification with your self-image, an image that is formed through your interpretation of personal experiences in life. The Ego is the voice inside your head that tells you that you are different from other people, the part of you that identifies itself through; labels, evaluations, and judgements.
A strong attachment to the Ego can give you a myopic view of the world. With such an Ego it becomes difficult to live effectively with other people as your capacity to see the world through a different lens becomes skewed. The world is neutral and every event is neutral, we give meaning to things through our interpretations of them. Those that cling to their own subjective view of the world, accepting everything they see as truth are being blinded by the Ego.
The Realized understand that falling victim to the Ego is a dangerous thing. they cultivate mindfulness in their day to day activities in order to not be so easily influenced.
The Problem of Judgement
I read a story in the book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people’, about a conversation that occurred in a train between the author (Stephen Covey), and another man. The man entered the train with delinquent children that were running around causing an uproar. Steven Covey disgusted in the man’s lack of responsibility in restraining his children, decided to confront him about the situation.The conversation went like this…
Stephen: “Sir, your children are disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”
Man: “Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
As you can imagine Stephen felt horrible after the interaction. Having too much ego is inimical to success as it gets you trapped in a rigid black and white view of the world. Imagine if Stephen never talked to the man and never understood the real situation, he would still believe the man to be degenerate. The Realized are not quick to make judgements because they understand the depths of reality, they do not accept appearances and ego formed judgements to be truths. An open mind is a powerful mind, because only it can bring you closer to the truth.
The Problem of Needing
Another way that the Ego operates is through always wanting to expand. No level of achievement is ever good enough for most people, they can never enjoy themselves because they are always looking forward towards the next big thing. People who make millions of dollars are not satisfied and want to make Billions. People who make progress in the gym are not satisfied, they always want to build more muscle or lose more fat. The human mind suffers from ‘hedonic adaptation’ which is the observed tendency of humans to return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events, hence we always need new stimulation and new expansion.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve or expand in what you do, the problem lies in when you forget to enjoy the present moment. The present moment is all that you can ever experience so you can not ignore it, however the mind has a funny way of forgetting this critical fact of reality. We spend a large amount of our days thinking about yesterday and worrying about tomorrow, that many of us forget to enjoy the NOW. We forget about the shortness of life so we spend our time on things that don’t matter, wasted hours dreading a future that usually doesn’t happen at all, this is due to the Ego.
The best way to understand your thinking patterns is through meditation, I have talked about the Benefits of Meditation and How to Meditate in previous articles so I will be brief here. The only way you can become more aware of your Ego, is through an increase in your state of presence. Presence to the moment can be cultivated through mediation and being more mindful throughout your day to day activities.
This state of mindfulness is not only peaceful, but practical as it allows you to catch your own bullshit. Mindfulness allows you to not always react habitually to the stimuli of life, but instead to choose how to respond. Choosing how to respond consciously is something that alludes most people, but is something that will not allude The Realized.