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Author Topic: Ego, what is it? Good or bad?  (Read 4126 times)
Tayesin
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« on: May 08, 2008, 01:56:26 »

Hi all,

Ego. What is it? Do we have to suppress it or annihilate it?

I’ve been looking at this concept for a long time, about 20 years or so, and have come up with a small theory about this thing we call ego. At first I thought ego was something uniquely human, a part of the construct for this world and therefore something to be aware of in our daily life in order to not allow it to run the show when it is active-ego. After some time and experiences in other worlds/realms I found that ego is part of so many other races in this universe, and so I had to begin modifying the way I thought about it.

It has been a topic for discussion among people I know for quite a few years, every time the only answer I hear is the traditional one, and when I propose a different way to look at it I’m told, “No, that’s just your ego trying to fool you.” Everyone speaks about ego as if it is an evil thing to be reviled, as if the connotation of the word means evil or bad. One person asked this question of their friend who is of the same understanding, “To be in Samadhi do we have to annihilate the ego?” Mind you, the word ego was said with such loathing that any true response was already unable to come forth from the respondent.

The person asking the question was blindly coming from her active-ego, which you could see in her demeanour and attitude of spiritual superiority. She said that we must annihilate the ego because God has no ego and therefore it will prevent us from knowing God. I said, “If we considered ego to a part of us relating to our self-awareness, then God must be self-aware and therefore have ego, the ‘I’.” Unfortunately, this person could not get past her concept of the word ego and therefore could not understand what was being said in such a way as to have an open discussion about it.

Now I have a theory and want others to give their opinion, if that opinion is not attached to belief-system. In other words, I would like people to look at this with fresh eyes before responding.

We could view ego as a spectrum thing, like everything else, where one end of the scale is ‘0’. This low side of the scale would indicate an under-active ego, which accounts for serious issues in people such as low self-esteem, disempowerment, etc. And we all know then that the other end of the spectrum could be ‘10’, meaning an overblown ego of magnificent proportions. And we have all know people like this, Hitler as an example, but you have all known people who believe they are far more superior to anyone else on the planet. So we can see both extremes are quite unhealthy, as it is with all things extreme.

Now if we considered this spectrum to indicate our depth of self-awareness including how we feel about ourselves, then we might be able to see that the ‘perfect position’ on the scale would be around the level of ‘5’, meaning well balanced. And we know that all things must be balanced to be effective for us, so we might then think that a balanced ego is more preferable than one sitting at either side of the ‘5’.

If we are balanced then I think we are more able to access our higher awareness because we would not be fooling ourselves with the overblown ego with it’s perspective of superiority, nor would we be thinking we are not deserving of spiritual awareness with an under-active ego. So, what do you think so far? Does god have an ego that allows it’s self-awareness to be balanced? And do we need to annihilate the ego completely to commune with god, or can we simply be balanced and have the communication?

Your turn……..
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no_leaf_clover
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2008, 08:21:15 »

I agree it has a gradient to it.

The way I look at it,  if everything had absolutely "zero" ego, and was totally dissolved into everything around it,  this would be equivalent to the spoken name of "god" that would annihilate the entire universe.  It would be like you playing checkers or chess with yourself.  Where is the excitement?  The whole thing would be futile, pointless, and not very enlightening.  So "god" has to make "himself" diverse through division, by making sacrifices of "his" own awareness.

I see the ego as a tool, that an aware person can sharpen or dull at will as it will fit the circumstances.  Though spiritual practices often discourage attachment to material possessions, sometimes to build your bigger castle in the sand you have to latch onto the material world a little harder.  Why not pursue the experience?  Even gods have to transcend their own rules now and again, lest they become static and dead.  And the equal and opposite balance to mortals seeking the divine, is the divine seeking to forget itself and dissolve into mortality.

I think the ego, the "sense of self," is all about that interplay.
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MisterJingo
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2008, 12:12:12 »

Hey Tayesin,

good post!
I've taken to seeing ego as a cumulation of our experiences, warped and filtered through predispositions to various stimuli - which gives rise to seeming individuality. I see the mechanics of consciousness as a universal - that is, we each have the same core mechanics which let us percieve and be self aware. Ego is an emergent property of each point of consciousness storing different experiences, and consequently interpreting new experiences in light of the old.
I believe there are also base predispositions i.e. some might be more fearful of certain situations/stimuli than others, which are represented genetically and allow for greater difference between those sharing similar experiences.
So our surface representations to the 'outside' world consist of seemingly unique instances of consciousness.
I also disagree with the idea of 'letting the ego go', to do such a thing is to devolve and if that goal is reached, to cease to exist. I think we should be aiming to refine the ego, letting go of traits we see as undesirable - which as ego-centric beings we have the ability to do so. A reduced ego would also mean a reduced ability to self percieve and perhaps move back into the more beastal pre-critical thought areas. For example, supposedly higher beings, or more spiritually advanced beings percived in OBEs have a very distinct (And sometimes overpowering) sense of individuality (ego), which implies their ego is well developed but controlled.
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2008, 12:12:12 »



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Tayesin
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2008, 13:39:50 »

I'm blown away. Thank you both so much for your perceptions and the precise way you put them across, you help me to see I'm not so alone in my own perceptions and concepts.

Blessings to you.

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Stookie
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2008, 16:51:08 »

I agree very much with what was said here by everyone - the ego is an important part of the human being, not to be ignored and not meant to take over. But so far it only seems spoken about in the sense of a person's personal life. What about the ego in the scope of the world and all of humanity? Isn't compassion in it's truest sense, void of ego? (seeing past our own identity, or becoming part of a whole) Or does compassion always go through a bit of the "ego-filter"?
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MisterJingo
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2008, 18:39:16 »

Good question Stookie! My own opinion is that to see past our own identity, we first need a self-awarness developed enough to do so i.e. a developed enough ego can see past themselves to others, wheras a less developed ego might not have enough self awarness to put other 'beings' into the context of being individual like themselves.
It's like the experiments (mainly done on children) which show that until they have a distinct self awarness (ego) they find it difficult to relate to others and their feelings (an issue also seen with autistic people).
I guess this where the 'refinement' bit comes in, we learn to see past the self to the feelings and emotions of others, rather than developing the ego in a purely selfish and self-facing way.
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2008, 18:39:16 »



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andonitxo
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2008, 22:50:40 »

Well... Ego is a construct of our psyches, so maybe God uses another machinery to know about himherself. Ego is something that evolves and that helps us survive in this world. And it changes, and we change it... or better said, we refine it.

Anyway, and apart of my own opinion, I read much time ago that a student (in a physical incarnation) asked a master for help. The master was "upwards", in a high plane (I think the mental plane or so), and -here comes the point- he had to create for himself a human-like psyche structure in order to be able to communicate with the student.

In other words. His mind was so evolved that he just didn't use human-like thinking structures (call them ego, lineal thinking, dual minds...). He had to develop an interface so his knowledge could get to the "earthly" student in a comprehensible way.

That takes me to the computer protocols -I'm a computer scientist-. When we navigate in the Internet our petitions have to be enveloped in many other data structures so the systems in the middle can manage such information.

For sure, our egos are a mixture of all of our aspects as humans-spirits.
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RJA
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2008, 23:52:36 »

I would suggest that our ego has "scope" and is only meant to exist while we maintain a physical existence here on Earth.  In that context, then, yes we could measure it on a spectrum and observe that egos in the middle tend to be neither doormats, nor tyrants (although I suspect that in the grand scheme of things doormats and tyrants have a purpose).

I'm guessing that my current ego, "Rob", came into existence when I took on a physical existence here, and that if things work out right, then I'll shed this ego at some point after my physical body dies. But I'm pretty sure I wasn't "Rob" before being born into this lifetime, and if I've had past lives I certainly wasn't "Rob" during those.  And so, most if not all of the things that I associate with my ego, will lose their meaning for me after physical death.

I guess to me, an ego is like a coat that I put on during my physical lifetime and it serves a purpose by providing a framework for my experiences here.  In that sense it's not "good" or "bad" and certainly not "evil".   Consequently, the concept of annihilating my ego during my physical lifetime has never made much sense to me.  Yet, at some point after death, I believe that I'll give up the old coat that I wore while on Earth.

The bigger question for me then is who exactly am I when I stop being Rob?  I guess the likely possibility is that when I give up the ego of "Rob" that I revert back to ANOTHER ego and that eventually I will also shed that ego. 

So perhaps ultimate enlightenment then, is the process of my shedding one ego after another until there is nothing left to shed.  At that point Buddhist annihilation has occurred and I am at one with the universe (pardon the cliche) in such a way that I don't even exist anymore.

The idea of not existing anymore might seem a bit distressing at this point to "Rob", but actually when it occurs it will just be that last ego finally acknowledging that it never had an objective existence to begin with, but rather that it (and all egos) are nothing more than passing thoughts in the mind of God.

Anyway, that's my .02



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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2008, 06:20:39 »


So perhaps ultimate enlightenment then, is the process of my shedding one ego after another until there is nothing left to shed.  At that point Buddhist annihilation has occurred and I am at one with the universe (pardon the cliche) in such a way that I don't even exist anymore.

The idea of not existing anymore might seem a bit distressing at this point to "Rob", but actually when it occurs it will just be that last ego finally acknowledging that it never had an objective existence to begin with, but rather that it (and all egos) are nothing more than passing thoughts in the mind of God.

Anyway, that's my .02

Hey RJA,

In the purest form, ego is simply self awarness. So at any level we are aware of ourselves as individual, we have ego of one form or another. Without ego we probably have no existence - or at the least, we wouldn't know that we exist, so we wouldn't be able to have 'feelings' about moving past the ego and joining with the source etc.
When I followed lines of thought like the above, I always face the conclusion that joining with the source and oblivion on death (the physical being all there is, and we being biological machines) are indistinguishable. Applying occam's razor here gives one conclusion. I'm content that both might be a possibility.
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CFTraveler
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2008, 16:29:52 »

Hey RJA,

In the purest form, ego is simply self awarness. So at any level we are aware of ourselves as individual, we have ego of one form or another. Without ego we probably have no existence - or at the least, we wouldn't know that we exist, so we wouldn't be able to have 'feelings' about moving past the ego and joining with the source etc.
When I followed lines of thought like the above, I always face the conclusion that joining with the source and oblivion on death (the physical being all there is, and we being biological machines) are indistinguishable. Applying occam's razor here gives one conclusion. I'm content that both might be a possibility.
That's something like what I was going to say.  Everyone has an idea of what ego is, depending on their worldview or *shudder* 'belief system'.  To some the ego is a construct designed to live in the world in order to function as a separate entity.  This is considered 'bad' by some and 'good' by others.  But in the purest, most simplified form, it's just a point-of-view, and anything else attributed to it is a quality of the ego, not the ego itself.
So, depending on your belief system, you will nurture the ego, not letting it become too self-important, or you will want to destroy it, or you will realize it never had any fundamental existence to begin with.
 Unfortunately, belief system is something that seems to be attached to it.
 
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recoverer
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2008, 20:02:19 »

I used to follow guru based Eastern teachings for a while, and supposedly if you saw that you don't have an ego, it stops existing. I've found that if you meditate in such a way you find that your ego can't be found. This isn't because there is no such thing as an ego. This is because there is no particular thing you can grab hold of and say: "This is my ego." I believe that our ego is a compilation of psychological attributes.

When thought of in this way, ego is sometimes thought of as the childish/self centered part of ourselves. Sometimes it is thought of as our uniqueness as an individual soul. I believe both explanations are true, depending upon how you are using the word.

Whatever the case, I no longer believe in the Eastern viewpoint that there is no such thing as an individual soul. My experiences tell me differently. For example, it is clear that the light being I communicate with has reached a level of development where this light being is a master of his (not really "his") creative thought energy. This being didn't have to puff out of existence once it found out about the truth of its spiritual nature.

For whatever reasons energy can be used in a manner so individual souls can be created. I figure once a parcel of consciousness/creative energy is capable of determining its own fate, its existence as an actual soul entity becomes a reality. Once a Soul learns to live according to love and wisdom, what would be the point of its aggregates dissipating way?

When it comes to the negative definition of ego, I believe that such attributes are temporarily taken on while we incarnate into a body because they provide the contrast that enable us to have a unique learning experience while incarnated in this World. For example, how could we understand humility without knowing about arrogance?

I believe there is a such thing as getting to the point where one lives according to divine will rather than the opposite. This is more of a matter of living completely according to love rather than losing one's existence as an individual soul.
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2008, 14:59:02 »

hey!! great post but as for an ego or I standpoint ... I think god has one after all in the bible God created man and the angels because "HE!" was lonely ... it also says that we were made in his image ... my 2 cents for the day ...


Jess
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Jessica
Stookie
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2008, 16:25:19 »

Where in the bible does it say God was lonely? I don't ever remember reading that.
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Zaiken
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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2008, 16:35:51 »

I would suggest that our ego has "scope" and is only meant to exist while we maintain a physical existence here on Earth.  In that context, then, yes we could measure it on a spectrum and observe that egos in the middle tend to be neither doormats, nor tyrants (although I suspect that in the grand scheme of things doormats and tyrants have a purpose).

I'm guessing that my current ego, "Rob", came into existence when I took on a physical existence here, and that if things work out right, then I'll shed this ego at some point after my physical body dies. But I'm pretty sure I wasn't "Rob" before being born into this lifetime, and if I've had past lives I certainly wasn't "Rob" during those.  And so, most if not all of the things that I associate with my ego, will lose their meaning for me after physical death.

I guess to me, an ego is like a coat that I put on during my physical lifetime and it serves a purpose by providing a framework for my experiences here.  In that sense it's not "good" or "bad" and certainly not "evil".   Consequently, the concept of annihilating my ego during my physical lifetime has never made much sense to me.  Yet, at some point after death, I believe that I'll give up the old coat that I wore while on Earth.

The bigger question for me then is who exactly am I when I stop being Rob?  I guess the likely possibility is that when I give up the ego of "Rob" that I revert back to ANOTHER ego and that eventually I will also shed that ego. 

So perhaps ultimate enlightenment then, is the process of my shedding one ego after another until there is nothing left to shed.  At that point Buddhist annihilation has occurred and I am at one with the universe (pardon the cliche) in such a way that I don't even exist anymore.

The idea of not existing anymore might seem a bit distressing at this point to "Rob", but actually when it occurs it will just be that last ego finally acknowledging that it never had an objective existence to begin with, but rather that it (and all egos) are nothing more than passing thoughts in the mind of God.

Anyway, that's my .02




i agree with you about shedding egos and gaining a new one with each physical life. but i believe we can also have egos that stick with us in one form or another, carry on to the next bodies. maybe this is why some have memories of past lives. as for loosing your individualtiy and ceasing to exist i doubt ill be seeking ultimate enlightenment any time soon, i for one do not wish to cease to exist.
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Awakened_Mind
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2008, 10:48:09 »

If you want to know what the 'ego' is I'd probably Google Freud seeings how he is really the one who came up with the notion.

Personally I see the ego as something that arose for people to establish individuality. Originally humans in tribes, older cultures etc had a group mentality. Collectivism. However we can see that nature through evolution pushes toward more complex organisation. Beginning with a primordial soup, then slowly comes little fish, bigger fish so on. Humans are somewhere toward the end of this scale. Yet how much more complex is individuality?

That being said I don't think that the ego will forever disappear, we need our uniqueness yet some balance between collectivism as well, I can't see any other sustainable alternative.

Another point is moving past this dualism of 'good' and 'bad'. I see it more as a tool for human consciousness that we're not using properly because we lack knowledge of ourselves. In that view it's not the ego that's good or bad but the indivdual who employs it. Then it becomes like asking 'Is a hammer good or evil?'

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