The fifth point I mentioned in my blog “The Law of Attraction… Are My Beliefs Ruining My Life?” was that we are not meant to supress or eliminate our ego. However, how we understand the term “ego” is essential if we are going to know what best to do with it.
Defining the Ego
The ego can be defined in a range of different ways. Freud was the first to use the term ego in his psychosexual theory of neurosis. He was referring an aspect of the self that was somewhere in between the id and the superego. For Freud, the ego was a kind of balanced self between the child-like, impulsive id and the overly rigid, moralistic super-ego.When people are talking about the ego in new age circles, I ‘m sure they are not referring to its original meaning!
Another version of ego that I have heard in new age movement is what Eckhart Tolle speaks about in his “Power of Now” and a range of other books and CDs. When Eckhart talks about “ego” he is referring to thought and emotional processes in the mind. So for him, the ego is equated to the human mind.
Yet another version I hear about in the “spiritual community” and general community at large, sounds more like the term “egotism”. Ego is seen as a bad thing to get rid of. So here we have three very different concepts of ego. There are more definitions however, I’m going to focus on the last two.
The Ego is Our Friend
Eckhart Tolle’ definition of the ego makes a lot of sense to me when talking about the psychospiritual. The ego is all mental and emotional activity of the mind. It includes our personality, values, likes and dis-likes and interpretation of the world. It is our self-identity, conscious beliefs and memories, and the associated emotions attached to those beliefs. Based on this idea of the ego, we are not meant to get rid of our ego, we are simply meant to dis-identify from it.
As living human beings we have a human mind. We are meant to become conditioned and hold psychological patterns in our minds and bodies. The Taoist states that we need to be carved before we can be uncarved… this is the process of gaining wisdom! Our ego has a real role to play in our lives. Without the mind we could not think. We could not interact socially or believe in anything. We could not create technology or society. We would not have unique personalities or be able to day dream. The mind is truly amazing! Yes… the ego is amazing!!!
The problem is not about having an ego, but rather the problem emerges when the egoic mind has control rather than what I will call “our presence”. When the mind drives things, as opposed to being utilised for the creative expressive vehicle that it is, then chaos prevails.
How to Dis-Identify from the Ego
The trick is not to eradicate the ego but rather to master it! Mindfulness, for example, teaches us how to witness psychological reactions consisting of thoughts, emotions and actions, such as what Eckhart Tolle calls the “pain body”. This is process is about dis-identifying from the thoughts and emotional attachments, and simply watch them play out. We then cease to believe that we are the patterns. We take our power back from them and they cease ruling our lives. Only then can we begin to make more conscious choices.
When we witness our thoughts and emotions with space and curiosity we learn to release the attachment to these beliefs and emotions. This kind of disrupts the automatic nature of the pattern. Mindfulness is beautiful! It produces a gap between the observer and the ego (the observed). It allows us to aster the mind rather than being ruled by it.
So in a nut shell, we were never meant to surpass or get rid of our ego. We may be able to witness the mind or master it, but we cannot escape it! We have a living human mind that thinks and identifies as a “self”. This is the ego and it is a blessing!
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