Understanding our ego is the key to understanding our freedom, personally and collectively as a planet.
A lot has been said about the ego. We all have our own ideas of what the ego is.
But I’d like you to consider the ego from a new light.
This new light will help us get a liberating and powerful perspective on the ego.
This perspective helps us see that:
1. The human being is, first and foremost, designed! Designed deliberately and functionally for a specific purpose. The human is not a random outcome of evolution. There is design, not randomness. This is the first key to this new understanding.
2. Part of the design is what we call the ego. The ego was designed into the human being deliberately, again for a reason. This is the second key.
3. By design, there is a way to transcend the ego. This is the third key to this new understanding.
We shall address this third key elsewhere. For now, let’s get introduced a little into the first two keys.
Consider this extract taken from, “A Heroic Life”, by Gina Lake…
“The explanation for this resistance [meaning the struggle, limitations, fears, worries, negativity, low self-esteem, etc] to life is that something else has been built into the human machinery besides these positive drives for learning and expansion: an ego. You could say that the ego is the villain in the human drama, since the ego provides the greatest challenge to human happiness. The ego, which is driven by fear, greed, selfishness, and a sense of never having enough, rails against reality, misperceives life, and thus makes poor choices, which cause the suffering that is the grist for human evolution.
Overcoming the challenges presented by the ego develops and strengthens the hero. Eventually, over many lifetimes, the hero gains mastery over the emotions and negative states generated by the ego, and he develops wisdom, discernment, fearlessness, compassion, and kindness, among other positive qualities.
In dealing with difficulties, the hero is made strong and is reconnected with his divine nature. Challenges draw forth and develop qualities of character the hero didn’t know he had, which are the gifts hidden in the challenge.
The ego, as I am using the word, is the programmed aspect of the human being that causes you to feel separate, fearful, lacking, and at odds and in competition with life and others. The ego is a sense of self that feels small, limited, afraid, and combative. The ego is who you are programmed to believe you are, and it is represented by the stream of thoughts that flows through your mind on a nearly continual basis. This thought-stream is primarily about yourself or about others in relation to you.”
OK, so that lays the groundwork for understanding the drama that is our lives.
I’d like now to remind you that all our lives basically form a story.
A story that follows a universal template that has been referred to as “The Hero’s Journey”.
In fact, most movies that you watch are based on this Hero’s Journey template. This is what the Hero’s Journey looks like:
Now, we said that the human being is DESIGNED.
Part of this design is a PROGRAM, a program that is PROGRAMMABLE.
That is how we get conditioned by our upbringing and so on.
The ego is a PROGRAM that has been PROGRAMMED and continues to be PROGRAMMED throughout our lives.
From the minute you are born, you start to become conditioned, programmed.
You watch, you learn, you model what you see around you. Your society, your parents, your friends, your teachers, your culture… All these program and condition you.
You learn to do things that give you pleasure and avoid pain. Avoiding pain becomes the biggest driver of your programming.
You build a self-concept.
A self-view and a world-view.
As such, you can think of the ego as part of the SOFTWARE that runs the human being. Other parts of this software include DNA. But in this case, we are focusing on the ego.
When you think about it, it is actually an ingenious device, this ego.
Let’s read more from “A Heroic Life”, by Gina Lake…
“Did you know that your software is significantly flawed?
Contrary to the ego’s perceptions, life is not supposed to be different than the way it is.
The ego’s perspective does not reflect reality, which is why it causes suffering.
Most people don’t know that the software running them is flawed. They don’t realize that their ego’s map of reality is incorrect and therefore the cause of foolish and hurtful actions and poor solutions. If people questioned this stream of thoughts, this would become apparent, but people don’t usually question their thoughts. People also often don’t question the information they have acquired along the way from seemingly reliable sources, such as parents, teachers, and other authorities, much of which is also untrue, unhelpful, outdated, or irrelevant.
Misinformation and mistaken and limiting beliefs make up the greater part of the conditioning that shows up in the thought-stream. This conditioning, along with many unconscious beliefs, was shaped by people you have encountered and your family, culture, religion, environment, gender, and genetic inheritance, including your appearance, intelligence, health, and personality. This conditioning is the script you have been given, and it largely determines how you will behave—unless the script is examined and questioned.
If you have an ego (which you do), then you have been given a script that doesn’t lead to happiness. So even if you had the most ideal parents and upbringing, you will still need to learn how to be happy, simply because you have an ego that is resistant to and fearful of life and has an incorrect map to happiness.
The conditioned self, which includes the ego, is the character you are playing. This character will either follow the script or become the hero of his life despite the script.
Everyone has a latent hero, just waiting to be brought to the surface and developed.
The ego pretends to be who you are, but it can never live up to your potential greatness because it has a negative and untrue perspective of life.
The hero’s journey is largely about discovering what life is all about, what is true about life. For this, the hero must be an adventurer, a seeker of the truth. She must be willing to discover whatever might be discovered, even if that isn’t what she would like to discover. The search for the truth requires courage and fearlessness. Fortunately, what this search uncovers is very good news, although not necessarily for the ego. The hero is a lover of the truth and, as a result of the search, has discovered that life is good. So the hero trusts life.
A desire and willingness to discover the truth about life, about reality, is essential in becoming the hero of your life. Without this, you won’t investigate, examine, ask questions, or confront what is false. You will accept the script you have been given and play the role that script defines. You will complain, blame, feel sorry for yourself, be angry, feel afraid and powerless, and cope with all of these feelings badly, primarily through addictive behaviours. You will suffer, and your relationships will suffer.
The thoughts that flow through your mind aren’t as useful as you might think. They contain only a smattering of truth and are therefore a very poor map for how to live your life. The hero knows this. The hero is guided by something other than the thought-stream—by another stream, which many have called the flow. The flow is reality; it is what is actually happening here and now.”
OK, so now we can ask ourselves some important questions…
Have you noticed how that thought-stream determines how you see yourself, how you see life, what you feel, what you do, and how you experience your life?
And have you noticed how you identify with the voice in your head? You know, your self-talk, the constant thought-stream that runs around your mind all the time?
You call that “me, mine, my”.
It is your self-concept, and your world-view.
You think you are the thought-stream.
Here is the good news…
The thought-stream isn’t who you are.
You could take away the thought-stream, and you wouldn’t miss a thing.
Moment by moment, life would continue.
And in each moment, you would know what to do.
You can drive your car without the thought-stream.
You can speak to people without the thought-stream.
You can earn a living without the thought-stream.
You can enjoy life without the thought-stream.
You can have desires that get fulfilled without the thought stream.
And indeed you already do.
Think about it, how much of your life happens, everyday, all day, without your thought-stream having to manage it?
And consider your past – I am sure there are things that you used to think about a lot in the past that you no longer think about – yet, you are here, aren’t you?
The thought-stream isn’t who you are. It is simply a program.
The ego is the software that gives you the sense that you are “in here,” inside your body, and everything else is “out there,” outside of and separate from you.
However, there is something else that is living your life.
That something else, that mystery, is the Presence that animates your movements, looks out through your eyes and recognizes the Presence in your child’s eyes, keeps you breathing, inspires you, recognizes the beauty in the sunset, powers your daily energy system, forgives and understands others, creates coincidences that manifest in your life at just the right time and place, and so on.
It is the Presence that enables “you” to see “your” thought-steam – and even to recognize that the thought-stream has errors, and can be changed.
That Presence is Who You Really Are.
Most people let the thought-stream run their lives.
They ignore the Presence and are sometimes even unaware of it.
The ego says, “do this now, fear this now, scream here now, grab this now, do this now…”
Where does the ego get those instructions?
It gets them from PROGRAMMING.
The ego sees only it’s own past PROGRAMMING, and tries to apply that programming to the future, while escaping the Present.
Yet, life is always new, at every Present moment.
The Present is not like the past, and the future exists only in the private mind of the ego.
You are only ever always in the Present, and the Present is always unique, moment by moment.
Can you see why the thought-stream creates so much suffering?
Awakening is all about surrendering the thought-stream to the Presence, so that the Presence runs your life.
The Presence doesn’t require the thought-stream, which is preoccupied with the “past” and the “future”.
The Presence live in the Present, at peace, in love, with the power of the Universe at One with It.
“Expecting your software to be capable of defining you and providing a philosophy by which to create a happy, peaceful, and loving life is like expecting your computer to be able to do those things for you. Looking to your thoughts for how to live your life is not much better than asking one of those Magic 8 fortunetelling balls that you had as a child what to do. Computers are not wise; they only store and process information. Your thoughts are not wise; they only reflect the information that you and others have acquired. Information is useful in its proper place, but information is not enough to guide you in this vast mystery called life. You are so much more than the information stored in your brains and so much more than what your thoughts tell you that you are. And yet, the software is so often what is running people’s lives. It is taken as the master when it is only a servant.” – Choice and Will by Gina Lake
The practice of Mindfulness and meditation is the best tool for seeing through all this, personally, for you.
That was a sample taken from the course, Radical Mindfulness Made Simple in 5 Easy Steps.