How dare I write this post?!!
Who am I to think my words would be worthwhile to read?
Isn’t this, and all writing, simply an expression of my ego?
The ego gets a bad rap in Spiritual circles. It is what you must free yourself from, it is a mechanism that is focused on externals – objects or feelings, an addiction to “forms”, from our mental assessment of others to our preferences in clothing or jewelry.
It is the mental chatter in our heads, continuously accessing memories (your past), your dreams (your desired future), and, usually superficially, the Present.
Thinker and author Eckhart Tolle is especially rough on the ego:
“When people get taken over by the ego to such an extent, there is nothing else in their mind except the ego. They can no longer feel or sense their humanity – what they share with other human beings, or even with other life forms on the planet. They are so identified with concepts in their minds that other human beings become concepts as well.” —Eckhart Tolle
All of this requires occupation, and preoccupation, with externals, when the most important conversations get pushed aside. You identify with your ego.
Aside from Freud, the word “Ego” simply means “I” – the 1st person pronoun – in Latin.
How Bad Is It?
“Ego is the great enemy. Ego will hold you back every single time.” —Nikki Sixx
“Letting go of your ego opens the door to taking a new and creative course of action.” —Suzanne Mayo Frindt
Yes, it looks like the Antichrist, doesn’t it?
When you overcome your ego, we’re told, true Wisdom will come to you more easily.
Q: How much “ego” do you need?
A: Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus. —Shunryu Suzuki
Okay, I’ve lost my ego, Braden – what’s next?
The Great Divide
There are thought leaders whose teachings lead inexorably to giving up the common way of life and retreating to a monastery. This is a direct attack on things. If you’re ready for that calling, for a deeper connection with the Divine and your Spiritual Self, you can find a community that suits you.
There are others who want us to bring our Spirituality into our everyday life.
I am brought back to the old Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water; after Enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.”
I would say – I know – I am a Spirit having a Human experience. While I’m here, though, I’m going to have some fun with it, and help when I can. What if, egoless, you still have things you want to do – wouldn’t they involve some kind or degree of ego?
Isn’t this post an act of ego? Ego is competitive, and so is this writing, only in my case I don’t compare my work to anyone else’s to “beat” them, to “Win”. My only competitor is myself, and the battles rage on the field of a computer screen.
Might I suggest there is a vastness ignored by the traditional definition of ego.
The Spiritual Ego
Once I have a higher understanding of life, I want to share it.
Serving this Higher Cause, what skill sets do I bring? Are they not the ego’s history?
If you’re not consumed by ego, if there is a distance between you and your ego, you can harness your old ego and come away stronger. Back when I was a monk, we were taught to transmute sexual energy into different directions, and I’ve done that for 30 years now. I believe you can transmute the ego’s energy into a higher plane as well.
“If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.” ― John Lennon
What I do now when I’m writing is to court the “perfect word”. When I put down the best word I can find, the following words flow, each tapping the Muse – I’m aware that something outside my mundane experience is guiding the words I manifest. It’s not channeling, it’s tuning in to the moment and, utilising all the history I accrued in a lifetime of writing, to find the next word on the page. My ego, in the sense of wanting you to like me, admire me, even having an effect on you, in the sense of superior or inferior – my ego doesn’t enter into it.
Still, I take a certain amount of pride in my work.
“When I write, I lose time. I’m happy in a way that I have a hard time finding in real life. The intimacy between my brain and my fingers and my computer… Yet knowing that that intimacy will find an audience… It’s very satisfying. It’s like having the safety of being alone with the ego reward of being known.” —Jill Soloway
The Recipe for Success
Abandon your mundane ego. The way to do it is to become conscious your ego is in play. Do you feel defensive? Even fearful? Feeling inferior? Should you have gotten that promotion and resent not only the choice, but as well the person who did get the promotion?
The red lights flash: Ego, ego, ego…
Then you can decide, do you want your ego to be used in this situation or not? You make progress like a brick wall: building brick by brick is the only way to do it.
If you doubt you can harness your ego, consider these words from someone many regard as just short of a god:
“The Ego is an exquisite instrument. Enjoy it, use it – just don’t get lost in it.” —Ram Dass