Updated: Jan 28, 2020
The illusion of separation — the "I" and "Me," after which "You" and "Them" ensue — is responsible for numerous global issues, like war and consumerism, to name a few. Most of all, this misconception hinders any possible attempt to achieve unity and peace. It is within this narrative of the self that the ego thrives. We must awaken from this illusion if we genuinely wish to move forward and evolve as humans.
If the ego is evil, then why do we have one? Do we need it in the first place? The ego weaves an abstract interpretation of the self, primarily to serve the purpose of man’s innate sense of survival of the fittest. Having said that, we actually need our egos until we need them no longer. Our job is to see past these cognitive filters and to treat the ego as a distorted construct of the mind, rather than the absolute truth to live by. One shouldn’t seek to eradicate the ego, but to interact with it. This interaction is unreservedly in your hands, regardless of whatever life events you had no control over — be it, childhood trauma, disease, or natural disasters. In society, we aren’t taught how to be constructively better, for that is a lesson learned in self-exploration. The truth is we need the ego to be able to traverse the earthly realm amongst us. The matter consists of neutralizing the ego to minimize self-centeredness by encouraging self-reflection. We often take ourselves more seriously than we should. Your job is to free your ego from the prison of beliefs of pure deception, such that challenges are no longer perceived as threatening, but as fortuitous.
Growing out of your ego is a necessary stage in the evolution of consciousness. Since the beginning of time, humans have gradually lost their sense of unity. The ability to think distinguishes the human species from all others but also results in egoistic behaviors leading to our demise. As soon as humans started identifying themselves with their minds rather than with their hearts, separations were born, and walls continue to rise as long as we carry on in this direction.
As Eckhart Tolle once stated, "What you react to in another, you strengthen in yourself." This suggests that whatever we strongly criticize in others is often a trait we have but are unconscious of. So this reaction is essentially a mirror reflection of yourself.. precisely your ego. Different people reflect different characteristics back to you. As a result, you will find that certain sides of you are more pronounced when you interact with different people. The stronger you condemn a particular trait in another, the more likely you have that attribute, So, look inside and realize you aren't solely what you attract. On the contrary, you are what you judge.
The mind is what hones the ego. We define ourselves by our thinking and not by our interconnected divinity. When you realize that you are not who you thought you were, you find yourself steps closer to figuring out who you really are. There is a fine line between thoughts and the awareness of those thoughts. That is where your true self lies.
Mental labels and defined behavior dictate so many of our social patterns, but they are tools that ultimately desensitize us to humanity. The mind is obviously going to endorse its own assumptions, even if they're most likely false. Thus, a cycle of brainwashing repeats itself, while the ego progressively undergoes inflation. Bit by bit, one cannot see past their ego and becomes a puppet in a play of narcissism.
The ego loves to complain, whether it's verbalized or in your head. But aren't there times where complaints are legitimate? There are two types of complaining: one which brings about resentment and has no purpose, and one whose goal is to bring about a change. When a complaint antagonizes the person to make them feel bad, then the situation at hand is solely driven by the ego and truly has no purpose. However, if you make a conscious effort of the resultative change you wish to take place, then it's not even labeled as complaining. So instead of making matters personal, save your breath and ask yourself: What difference is this next iterated statement of mine going to make?
Recognize your compulsive thoughts for what they are.. the voice of your ego. The ego is equivalent to unconsciousness. That small voice in your head which always complains only helps reinforce your sense of righteousness, another trait of the ego. Likewise, what the ego loves is when someone else confirms its right to protest, which encourages one's sense of entitlement even more. The sequence of events emphasizes mental labels even more and unfolds within the simplest of contexts, like customer and waiter. After long anticipation of your meal, it arrives at last. We live in the real world, meaning the prospect of your meal being cold remains to deem itself possible. You call over the waiter and either complain meaninglessly, or you ask for a hot meal instead. The way you react truly makes all the difference.
What about sadness and painful feelings? The truth is, yes, it's your ego that is hurt, and hurt feelings often transform into resentment or anger. We all like to think of ourselves as good people, and when we receive criticism or insults.. we get hurt! The way you react to that can be heavily influenced by your ego (e.g., you shout something derogatory back). Anyone can feel a bout of anger surge through them, but it’s whether or not you act on that anger that makes you a different person. So, I ask you to dig a little deeper.. because everyone has their reasons. Instead of cursing at someone who gave you the finger while driving, recognize that they are probably having a bad day.
So let's take that and expand on it: getting rid of the accumulated grievances that are carried down the generations of a family, or a nation requires genuine forgiveness. With that said, forgiveness is an act of liberation in itself, for yourself more than others. This doesn't necessarily mean you excuse someone else's flawed behavior. It rather implies that you have accepted the past and that you cannot go back and change it. Open the door to your heart once more. To live freely, you must be able to trust. Rid yourself of the hope that you can alter what is now history. So, forgiveness is a tool to help instill living in the now.
If you feel any resistance when trying to grasp these concepts, then that is entirely okay. Mainly, many people are still living in a world where their direct physical reality is pretty essential whether it's their job, family, or relationship. This is all perfectly fine, as long as you don't develop an attachment to this world. With attachment comes endless suffering, mainly because we live in fear of losing these people or things. Unfortunately, another reason being that satisfaction from these superficial forms eventually wears off... cultivating negativity. The more present you are in the moment, the less the attachment exists. Do not surrender to the obsolete nature of the material world, where time runs out, and happiness is temporary and relative... You are much more than that.
Do not project your self-fulfillment and happiness in the future. Make it now and live in the moment.
Similar to how complaining stems from the ego, emerges worrying. Worrying serves absolutely no purpose and will not change the situation you are in. You're only contributing to the chaos that arises consequentially. "Worry pretends to be necessary." The mind convinces you to worry, and this unconscious habit will do you no good, so let it go and try to find peace beneath the unswerving subconscious dissonance. You must take control of your life and make a conscious choice to be present. Start by leaving the mind and entering the body through meditation. Evolving as a species begins on a small scale. If you wish to change the world, you must change yourself first.
More is never enough for the ego, and this constant insufficiency becomes built into your body with time. From this stem so many traits, but the most powerful are greed, lust, gluttony, and the remainder of the deadly sins. How can one naturally put an end to this? Addictions sum up to form a behavioral model which we adopt and allow to regulate the rest of our lives. Breaking free isn't exactly a walk in the park, but it's attainable and possible in every way.
Let's take a simple example from our day-to-day lives... Eating. Many people eat until they can't breathe, but have they really tasted their food? You'll come to find the answer is no, especially when you try it yourself. Try eating mindfully, and make a meditation out of your meal. The outcome consists of you getting full sooner than usual, and that's because you didn't just feed your tummy, but you also fed your soul. More often than not, it's our minds that want to eat, and not our bodies, so it's important to distinguish between the two. The epiphany at bay here is that when you are obsessively indulgent, you will become overweight, or drunk, and never satiated. It's no coincidence all these unconscious addictions ultimately cause harmful outcomes.
The more we give in to letting our thoughts control us, the more we stray away from living by our own instincts. This is precisely why children should be our teachers. Children know what they want and when they want it — not because they're demanding, but because they listen to their inner selves. Additionally, children don't use the same mental labels adults do, which explains why the union between children is much stronger than that seen later along the line. These early years of life are when we are closest to our raw and true nature.
Once you stop being defensive and feeding your ego.. instead of reacting, you will be acting. This action comes out of a different state of consciousness. Your actions are much stronger and more effective than your reactions.
When you feel like you're about to implode.. choose to be peaceful and remain calm because that's the precise setting where things often work out and situations resolve. Otherwise, you're in for a dramatic interplay between your ego versus the world. And the ego lives off of drama. It becomes like an addiction to unhappiness, and you fall in love with your sadness, ultimately leading to the grand finale: your self-destruction.
To control the ego, you must embrace its polar opposite: awareness. Become aware of your ego. When you are fully aware, you will be blessed with the gift of spreading this awareness into the world and fulfill your purpose. That in itself is the evolution of consciousness and the impetus of the universe.. to become one and realize our essential nature.
How is your relationship with the current moment? Hopefully, it's healthy and pleasant. Exiting the ego can be attained by being totally aware of the present moment right now. Of course, the ego obscures this door to the present moment as much as it can, so it's not an easy task getting past that... But if you wish to awaken, you must make a conscious choice to stop losing yourself in your ego and regain the state of oneness with the Source.
The essence of who you are in the space within you where timelessness resides. All things that come to pass — your thoughts, emotions, beliefs — are not you. This spiritual realization will lead you to feel one with God, the Source of all Creation. There are certain concepts the mind cannot begin to comprehend, and it isn't supposed to either. In quite a literal sense, you are not who you think you are. Strip yourself of the egotistical mindset that has been impeding your spiritual journey to the higher self. Beware to not take a careless plunge down the road less traveled by, but keep one foot grounded in what is known and gracefully step the other into that which is unknown. Embrace your universal duty, and may our unified stream of consciousness glimmer with life as we embark on this enlightening evolvement.