The Ego ~ The Burden of the Illusory Self
When one is drawn toward the spiritual path, it is very common to hear and read much about the ego. It is said that the ego is the root of all problems, and that to become ‘enlightened’, it should be overcome or destroyed.
But what is the ego, why is it such a burden, and how can it be overcome?
In his book ‘The Power of Now’, Eckhart Tolle describes the ego as the false, mind made self. He goes into detail about how to identify it and notice its workings and how it can trick you into becoming identified with it. This begs the question though, where is this ego, and how did you become misidentified with it in the first place?
Most people perceive themselves as thinkers of thoughts. This is where the fundamental error, or misperception takes place, for though you might notice the thoughts and believe them to be you, they are not you.
As Mooji says, ‘If the thoughts were you, then when they go, you will also be gone’. This means that you are not the thoughts, but the witness. They appear in front of you, along with everything you experience. You are the witness of these experiences, the Self who observes all things. The problem comes when we mistake the experiences for our true self. We take all of our experiences from the past, including our fantasies about the future (which are also just thoughts), and make a false identity out of them. This identity is the ego. But it is not real. It is just an idea in your mind, which you believe in.
So when people talk about destroying the ego, or overcoming it, this is ultimately futile. The ego never existed in the first place, it is the illusion of a personal, individual identity. In truth, all that exists is God.
True awakening happens when we move our attention (which up to now is fixated on the external world and thought forms) inwards. The kingdom of heaven is truly within. It is not to be found in some external object, but within our own selves. This is the great teaching that pervades all true spiritual teachings.
In order to identify the ego within oneself, it is fundamental that we pay attention to our true self. The most simple way to do this is to let go of all thoughts - thoughts about the past, the future, even the present moment. Any self-concepts; likes, dislikes etc. should also be released. Let go of everything and just be empty. Leave it all aside, and see what happens…
Although this is a very simple exercise, it is very powerful, as it shifts the attention away from object consciousness, i.e. focusing on things, and brings the awareness back to your true essence, the Self.
I encourage you to do this exercise regularly, and look within yourself. At this time of strife and turmoil, it is essential that humanity awakens to its divine connection, and it begins with you. The peace and love you seek are within your own heart.
Blessings and love to you all.