The human mind has a primitive ego defense mechanism that negates all realities that produce too much stress for the brain to handle. It’s called Denial. Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply put their ego aside and take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?” This is where we are at right now, as a whole. No one is left out of the loop. We are experiencing a reality based on a thin veneer of lies and illusions. A world where greed is our God and wisdom is sin, where division is key and unity is fantasy, where the ego-driven cleverness of the mind is praised, rather than the intelligence of the heart.
Sometimes someone will furiously say to me, “Not everything is about you.” In that moment, I have multiple answers I could give that would not project my ego. But the one always at the tip of the tongue for me and may others is: “But you do have to admit that the majority of things are.” Or something close to that.
I have been accused severally of having an ego bigger than the Wembley stadium, and that is how I know I have true friends who do not sugarcoat anything in our relations. Most of these times I have been tempted to think that if being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or writing, then in that respect you can call me that. I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it. But the border line between confidence and arrogance is quite thin and you have to be self-aware to check your ego. The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego but just an old conditioned mind-pattern because ego implies unawareness. And awareness and ego cannot coexist.
The Ego, however, is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.
Our lives are not as limited as we think they are; the world is a wonderfully weird place; consensual reality is significantly flawed; no institution can be trusted, but love does work; all things are possible; and we all could be happy and fulfilled if we only had the guts to be truly free and the wisdom to shrink our egos and quit taking ourselves so damn seriously. We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Leo Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure, your perfection is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.
Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition all such distortions within our own egos condition our vision of those in relation to us. Add to those distortions of our own egos the corresponding distortions in the egos of others, and you see how cloudy the glass must become through which we look at each other. That’s how it is in all living relationships except when there is that rare case of two people who love intensely enough to burn through all those layers of opacity and see each other’s naked hearts.
A genuine relationship is one that is not dominated by the ego with its image-making and self-seeking nature. In a genuine relationship, there is an outward flow of open alert attention toward the other person in which there is no wanting whatsoever. Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a person’s sexual choice is the result and sum of their fundamental convictions. Tell me what a person finds sexually attractive and I will tell you their entire philosophy of life. Show me the person they sleep with and I will tell you their valuation of themselves.
No matter what corruption they’re taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts. An act which we cannot perform for any motive but our own enjoyment. Just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! An act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exultation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces us to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and accept our real ego as our standard of value. We will always be attracted to the person who reflects the deepest vision of ourselves, the person whose surrender permits us to experience or to fake a sense of self-esteem. Love is our response to our highest values and can be nothing else.
What we want is to be needed. What we need is to be indispensable to somebody. Who we need is somebody that will eat up all our free time, our ego, our attention. Somebody addicted to us. A mutual addiction. Love is not selective, just as the light of the sun is not selective. It does not make one person special. It is not exclusive. Exclusivity is not the love of God but the “love” of ego. However, the intensity with which true love is felt can vary. There may be one person who reflects your love back to you more clearly and more intensely than others, and if that person feels the same toward you, it can be said that you are in a love relationship with him or her. The bond that connects you with that person is the same bond that connects you with the person sitting next to you on a bus, or with a bird, a tree, a flower. Only the degree of intensity with which it is felt differs.
In the article is love real, I talked about how people think a soul mate is their perfect fit, which is what everyone wants. That a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. I said, a true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life. I am only interested in that ego part but had to quote the whole paragraph for a better reminder.
You will never find the real truth among people that are insecure or have egos to protect. Truth over time becomes either guarded or twisted as their perspective changes; it changes with the seasons of their shame, love, hope or pride. Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self-kind of understanding. Perhaps the only kind we can find in a soul mate.
It’s easy to run to others. It’s so hard to stand on one’s own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can’t fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is your strictest judge. You run from it. You spend your life running. You find it easier to donate a few thousands to charity and think oneself as noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement. You find it simple to seek substitutes for competence. Such easy substitutes: love, charm, kindness, charity. But there is no substitute for competence.
It often occurs that pride and selfishness are muddled with strength and independence. They are neither equal nor similar; in fact, they are polar opposites. A coward may be so cowardly that he masks his weakness with some false personification of power. He is afraid to love and to be loved because love tends to strip bare all emotional barricades. Without love, strength and independence are prone to losing every bit of their worth; they become nothing more than a fearful, intimidated, empty tent lost somewhere in the desert of self.
And as if to build a fence around the fatal emptiness inside, you have to create a sunny person that you become. An alter ego. But if you peeled away the ornamental egos that you have built over the years, there is only an abyss of nothingness and the intense thirst that comes with it. Though you try to forget it, the nothingness visits you periodically, on a lonely rainy afternoon, or at dawn when you wake up from a nightmare. What you need at such times is to be held by someone, anyone.
Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.
A lot of things are inherent in life; change, birth, death, aging, illness, accidents, calamities, and losses of all kinds. But these events don’t have to be the cause of ongoing suffering. Yes, these events cause grief and sadness, but grief and sadness pass, like everything else, and are replaced with other experiences. The ego, however, clings to negative thoughts and feelings and, as a result, magnifies, intensifies, and sustains those emotions while the ego overlooks the subtle feelings of joy, gratitude, excitement, adventure, love, and peace that come from essence. If we dwelt on these positive states as much as we generally dwell on our negative thoughts and painful emotions, our lives would be transformed.
Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you. Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything. The problem with introspection is that it has no end. Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego, and when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personalities and get into the forests again, we shall shiver with cold and fright but things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves anymore. Cool, exciting, fulfilling life will rush in, and passion will make our bodies taut with power and old habits will fall down. We shall laugh and illusions will curl up like burnt paper.
Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment.