“The Ego’s role is to protect you, but it takes itself too seriously at times”
A dear friend (Karen England), once said this to me. It made me think about what this meant exactly, and raised a whole host of questions… What is EGO? How does my EGO protect me? How does it take itself too seriously? Is the EGO separate from me? Can the EGO be a good thing? This statement catapulted me into my own Ego exploration and what it means for me.
Traditionally, I had thought of Ego as a bad thing – seeing it as a pompous way of being and displaying superfluous self importance. That concept has changed somewhat over the last few years. I now see it as a way of separating; separating ourselves from each other, with the recent addition of separation from Source, as a result of subconscious fear. It was no longer a ‘bad thing’, it was just a ‘thing’; a coping/compensatory mechanism on a deeper level, in response to excess fear. When we realise that everything is connected; that we all arise from the same primordial spirit, this sense of separation seems unnecessary. Those that fit the normal definition of ‘egotistic’ are doing just that; separating themselves from others based on what they have or haven’t got, forgetting that we are all small but vital parts of a whole, and that we are very deeply connected. This lead to me ask myself, what is the purpose of my Ego?
We are all born free of Ego. Young children only start showing a sense of ‘self preservation’ (and therefore a sense of separation) as they become exposed to life and the teachings of our parents, who seek to keep us safe. In doing so – they sometimes unknowingly pass on their subconscious fears. Ego/separation is something that is learnt. Statements and beliefs such as ‘this is mine, that is yours, I am better than you, you are inferior to me’ are acquired throughout the duration of our lives, stemming from a conditioned response to fear. Fear based beliefs such as ‘I need more, better, bigger’ are really only born from insecurity that originate from the fear based beliefs of those around us! Whether it be our parents, our teachers, society, the government or any other external influence. In this way, the Ego can help us to live and survive in a world lacking apparent abundance, and one which emphasises material gain (uptil now anyway!)
The Ego gives us a sense of WHO WE ARE;
‘I am rich, I am a surgeon, I am a dentist, I am successful, I am a sage, I am a business man, I am funny, I am a saviour, I am intellectual, I am enlightened, I am important, I am spiritual, I am angry, I am unhappy, I am this, that and the other!’
Clearly all of these statement help us to survive in life, but excessive importance on these factors gives us the classic example of the man or woman, who has a ‘Big Ego’.
All these statements might be true, but they do not define us. (See article WHO AM I).
You are not an accumulation of things, beliefs or experiences. That is as absurd as saying you are your car, your home or your mobile phone. You HAVE those things, but you are not them. Being of the same substance and spirit as everyone else, is our only true definition. Underneath all of those layers, you are that ego-free child. Thoughts such as my body, my mind, my intellect, my life, my wealth, my wife and children, my happiness, my offence, my unhappiness etc. arise from accumulated beliefs and therefore Ego alone, and this way of thinking can sometimes make us forget our true nature if we take them too seriously. In spiritual terms, we are more than just our physical bodies and senses, and therefore engaging in contemplation of that pure, true essence – that Source – is crucial to our balance here on Earth.
A tree needs roots and foliage (amongst other things) in order to be considered a ‘fully fledged’ tree. Our Ego can be compared to the roots, and the foliage to our Source connection. Both roots and branch are necessary in the trees experience.
We can take this concept a step further and say that even our minds, bodies and intellect do not make us who we are. We were present before our minds and bodies were developed, or our intellect had expanded. Even these aspects of ourselves can be placed under our big, fat ‘Ego umbrella’. Any over importance placed on anything to do with our bodies and minds, as well as our material possessions, is considered an egotistic measure. This includes placing too much importance on our thoughts, knowledge and beliefs of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’….they are accumulations after all! The only indicator of our raw, pure essence is our intuition, which we tend to not nurture enough (more about this later!)
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
So what do we place importance on if not our Minds, Bodies and Possessions??
The key is not to place over importance! It is to unidentify with any ‘thing’ or belief stemming from our Ego’s – which includes our thoughts. Any form of separation is an act of Ego; any desire to want to ‘feel important’ is there only to help us with our survival pursuits. Again, placing too much importance on ‘having something to place importance on’ is just another insecurity that our Ego displays in order to ‘protect ourselves’ – to feel safe. The key is to balance our Ego’s with our unadulterated Source of being; our true nature.
‘No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven, unless its roots reach down to hell’
-Carl G. Jung
When we remember that our experience here on earth is a merging of our Source/Spirit with our Ego self, we can achieve a fulfilled, well aligned life. (Kind of like the tree with its foliage and its roots!). Both are vital to our experience. Placing too much importance on connecting to the wonderful mysteries associated with Source, and we become scattered and ungrounded. After all, if we only ever wanted to reconnect with our energetic selves or Source and not experience anything else, what would be the point of being here! Similarly, too much importance on our Ego’s and we live in a state of fear.
(This is considered to be the theory behind ‘Chakra balancing‘)
‘As above, so below, As within, so with out’
– The Emerald tablets of Thoth -circa 3000 BC
For me, the above statement by Thoth emphasises our need to ‘ground’ ourselves in this life, balanced with the remembering of who we really are behind our accumulations. It also suggest the impact of imbalance – ‘as within, so with out’ – the imbalance within ourselves, lead to the creation of undesired external circumstances. The Ego is portrayed as being ‘bad’ but I feel it is vital to our growth, balance and our experience here as a human being. When we respect but transcend our Ego’s, we can tap into the Source of all creation – the same Source that creates all the perfection in nature and the Universe. From this place, free of judgements, masks and labels, we can tap into the creativity of all that is. In many cultures, this creativity is considered to be the yin to the yang, or the balance between right brain and the left. It is only in the unity of both Ego and Source, Left and Right brain, Yin and Yang that we become free of the duality we experience. When we move away from the ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘me’ Vs ‘you’, we can appreciate everything to be important parts of the ‘whole’, and in this we may find true bliss and freedom. Who wouldn’t want to feel like that after all?
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.