In this Blog I want to touch upon an important and controversial topic: dealing with the ego.
Ego in this context means the basic principle of human mind, which is a base of everyday personality. There is the mind and at the core of the human mind there is the ego – that basic notion of I and Mine (and I am me and you are you; my needs are mine and your needs are yours etc.) that is usually driving the car of our mundane and spiritual existence.
Various spiritual traditions usually offer only one option: cutting off the ego and everything that goes with it (attachment to power, money, sex, enjoyment etc.).
Christianity has an interesting opinion on the subject it seems and while maybe intellectually “sin” is an appealing concept, I don’t want to go there.
Buddhists seem to point in the same direction: transcend the mundane pleasures as soon as possible, for all life is in fact, suffering.
Most Hindu traditions (Vedanta doctrines: Jnana yoga, Bhakti yoga, Karma yoga etc.) suggest similar strategies: renouncing the ego is the way. Sri Ramana Maharshi himself has often spoken about the ego as enlightenment enemy number one.
I am not really familiar with the Islam teachings, so I will refrain from commenting that tradition.
New Age movement, well, their exclusive focus on the Light and Positive vibrations kind of rules the ego (with its negativity) out by definition, it seems.
It seems to me that all of the aforementioned traditions perceive ego as something negative, some kind of a burden that needs to be eliminated or at least ignored for the greater good, of course (greater good being spiritual awakening or at least one way ticket to heaven).
Even modern psychotherapy practice, in general, seems to be focused on eliminating the problems and personal issues forgetting in the process that eliminating negativity from inner psycho-dynamic climate is only one side of the coin.
Well, while most of population on this planet (and most of readers of this Blog, I take it) might subscribe to one or more than one tradition mentioned above, I would nevertheless like to rise these questions:
– What is the ego, really?
– If ego is a part of our mind and part of the whole being, why eliminate/negate/ignore it in the first place?
No, seriously, if the ego is a part of my whole being and psychological-spiritual identity (which actually is the case), cutting it off would amount to cutting off any other part of my whole being, would it not?
I have been down that road, you know. Surfing on the high waves of my previous spiritual attainments, I was dealing with my ego mindlessly and rather ruthlessly. Like a jealous despot, invaded by the scarcity thinking, I was pushing away the most important elements of my inner climate: desires and attachments to material side of life. Desiring only transpersonal existence, I was ready to renounce everything that offered me a mundane scent.
What a fu**ing idiot I was. LOL
Of course, now that I am older and maybe a bit wiser, I can see that it was only a process. A process that needed to unfold as it has. No problems there.
What I would like to offer in this Blog, however, is that there is no real need to deny anything. No ego is responsible for any kind of trouble along the spiritual path. Besides, how can I really renounce something which I don’t really own?
Having a strong and flexible ego means I will very easily integrate it when the right time comes.
Ego is only as strong as my aversion to itself is. That means that ego as an obstacle is an obstacle only as long as I am denying it.
Ego and its fateful subjects: power, pleasure and attachment to pleasure, money, sex, good food, fancy cloths, fear, aversion, sadness, anger etc. are only what they are: a part of the overall being.
There is no point in denying my desires, attachment to pleasure, money, sex etc. Why on earth would I wanna do that?!
If God is everything, isn’t S/He in pleasure as well?
My point is that denying anything really only adds to inner conflict. Scriptural injunctions, prohibitions, rules, hard core discipline etc. – is all of that really REALLY adding to the beauty and joy in the current flow of Life in my awareness?
The ultimate Truth, the Absolute state of awareness, according to self-realized individuals (Ramana Maharshi, Lahiri Mahasaya, Buddha etc.) is non-different from everyday life awareness.
So, my path is a Tantric one: embrace everything, integrate each and every thought, emotion, feeling and inspiration, no matter how mundane it may seem.
Offering tons and tons of empathy and love to my own “material ego”, lovingly sitting with and tolerating and integrating even the most incredibly negative tendencies in my inner climate – in short, embracing the ego and all it stands for has brought me inner peace, freedom and joy and free flow along the all possible stages of human awareness (as per Wilber map).
All Life is One. Goddess Kali is Everything, All in All.
Embracing the ego may instigate or invite Her blessings. And when Her blessings manifest, everything just falls right into place. Easily.
One story I would like to share with you. At one of our group meditation rituals a dear friend of mine has shared his insights into levels of existence, he said:
“There is a soul which is incarnated in the body, conditioned by the limited brain functions and sensory input. And the Lila, the game of the Gods, the mundane existence, is unfolding in front of the soul. And the trick is to turn away from the Lila, from the mundane play and to direct the attention to the Originator and the Source of everything. Focusing on Absolute adds to the soul and her awakening.”
Well, our Sitaram has nailed it yet again.
I would like to add, though, that there is no real need for turning away.
No need to turn my back to the mundane play, for the Absolute truth is also in the relative elements of the worldly play. And focusing on these elements of our relative existence, responsibly and carefully employing advanced rituals – that is and has been called Tantra for ages. Embracing everything and integrating everything along the spiritual path.
I wish someone would have explained that to me years ago. It would have spared me a lot of needless suffering and self denial.
What about you?
How do you deal with your ego and mundane tendencies?