In spirituality we have a goal. We want to get to a higher and higher vibration, possibly a particular hypothetical vibration called “enlightenment”, or possibly just permeate our lives more and more with the high vibrational energies of love, peace, and joy.
A lot of people say that there is an enemy to this goal. They call it the “ego”. Eckhart Tolle (who is, incidentally, my idol) talks about this “ego” and why it’s bad. OK.
I don’t disagree with Tolle’s ideas on conceptual terms. I know other spiritual teachers talk about the ego and many of them I agree with. I do disagree, however, with the way many people, including me, have interpreted those ideas.
The “ego” is an interesting concept if it encourages self understanding, self observation. It’s good to have some idea of the dysfunctional side of ourselves so we can understand our path to healing that.
The “ego” in spirituality is a problem if it becomes the enemy. I don’t think the ego is an enemy, and I don’t think any of the true spiritual teachers would say it is.
If the ego is an enemy, we’re back to old Christian thinking. We’re back to Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell. Haven’t we learnt anything in the last thousand years?
When we have an enemy, we have judgement. We have self judgement and the persecution of others. We have people who put themselves on pedestals and people who worship those people. We have madness, in other words.
Is the ego the enemy? No. Is madness the enemy? No. Madness is nothing at all. What do you call energy that’s got blocked and isn’t flowing in a healthy way? Nothing, it’s just energy. You can’t kill that energy and you don’t want to. You just need to get it flowing right.
There’s nothing that needs to be fixed in us, nothing we need to fight. There is no enemy. The word “ego” can mean something. But those people who are fighting against it – I wonder if they could even give it a proper definition? It just becomes a phantasm, a shadow they’re struggling against. If we really examined it we’d realise it wasn’t even there.
We are here to affirm the true in us, not to fight the unreal.
So – in practical terms. How do we apply this?
When you’re trying to work out if something in you is “ego” and if it needs to be changed, realise that there is no ego like that. There’s no part of ourselves that’s fundamentally negative and needs to be changed. Maybe some energy blocks but we can’t define them, they have no real existence in themselves.
If you think there’s something wrong with having a sense of self, ask if you’re fighting against it. If you’ve made it into the enemy, then you can be sure that this is not any sort of “ego” that needs to be changed. You may be able to call it an ego according to some definitions. Let that ego stay. If you’ve banished it, heal the disconnection.
If you think there’s something wrong with materialism, ask if you’re fighting against it in yourself. If you’ve made it into the enemy, realise that this is nothing that needs to be changed. Let it be, and learn to integrate it into yourself in the most balanced way. It’s only imbalance that could have caused you harm here anyway.
If you’ve given up your individuality and have become an undefined mass of “everything’s okay” with no personality whatsoever, heal that! None of the things you have given up were the enemy. If they were anything we could name the “ego”, then they were okay. They were good egoes. If there was ever any problems coming from those things, it was not because of a fundamental issue but an imbalance or blockage in that which is in itself positive.
If you’ve surrendered yourself to a guru, take some time out and ask yourself if “giving up your ego” meant something like “giving up your will to fight against a cloaked tyrant”. Remember it’s healthy to have free will. If you gave up a part of yourself to do anything, you’ve hurt yourself, and you’re not getting closer to enlightenment or raising your vibration that way.
And if you play yourself down, hold yourself back, don’t let yourself shine, or don’t recognise who you are, all because of some phantasm of having too much “ego”, lay it off! If being awesome is “ego”, then have an ego! If that offends someone, let them be offended! Deliberately set out to offend them, if that’s the only way you can break free. Make it your business to offend people who think they have a right to tell you how you live your life. Goddamn I love you. Get out there and kick ass.