ego vs. Ego
What is Ego? From a psychology viewpoint, Ego is viewed as a necessary and intrinsic part of our psychological makeup. It is viewed as something we need to strive to constantly improve, we need to build our self-esteem. From a spiritual view, Ego is something we are striving to free ourselves from, to transcend, rise above, and eliminate completely.
Thus we have two somewhat opposing viewpoints of Ego, one says we can't ever be free it but must constantly strive to improve it, and the other that Ego can and should be transcended and eliminated.
Why is it that the logical, highly educated minds behind psychology believe the Ego can not be perfected and thereby transcended, but Self-Esteem and therefore Ego can be improved upon?
The simplest answer is that they find themselves unable to control their own Ego, let alone transcend it. Likewise for their colleagues, friends, family members, and in-fact everyone they know of, or have ever heard of, except for a small handful of Enlightened monks, gurus, and perhaps a few others who have laid claim to transcending their Egos. Since Ego transcendence into a silent state of mind is purely subjective, and there is no known method to prove or disprove the existence of Ego, these claims tend to be simply disbelieved and summarily dismissed. This dismissal is a very typical reaction of Ego, whether individually or as a group. Egos are only interested in anything that validates their own views and opinions, and quickly dismisses anything else as being irrelevant, unreliable, or some other reason it can find to justify the dismissal. Sweeping this relatively small amount of evidence under the carpet and relying completely on their own subjective experience, they find themselves justified in their reasoning that the Ego can not be "gotten rid of".
If this viewpoint was correct, one would have to wonder then, how methods that teach the path and steps that lead to this mysterious state of consciousness have managed to continue being handed down so successfully for thousands of years. Any teacher within any of the non-dualistic traditions will quickly tell you it is because it works, spiritual transcendence is a real phenomenon. It is important to note here that not all who successfully transcend their Egos are as publicly visible as the teachers and gurus or as highly revered as the Buddha, or Jesus, or His Holiness The Dalai Lama. They can exist in any walk of life including a homeless person.
If then, the spiritual teachers and gurus are correct, why is it that so few people are able to attain this state of consciousness?
First lets look at the two ways one can reach this state, one is spontaneously, and the other is through extensive practice. There is no possible way to predict or deliberately bring about a spontaneous transcendence. It does seem to be brought about as a result of enduring tremendous suffering and stresses (physical, mental, emotional, or a combination) and the resulting mental activity spiralling out of control, causing so much disharmony and anguish, that a breaking point is reached. This causes the mind to "step out" of its own activity, almost as though it self destructed. This is not something most people are willing to voluntarily attempt, and there are no guarantees it will produce the desired result.
The second method is extensive practice. Before practice can begin, one must first figure out exactly what to practice and how to go about it. This requires trying to somehow comprehend methods that are purely subjective and experiential. It is like trying to understand a description of the taste of chocolate, or the smell of a rose, from someone else's experience if you have not yet had a comparable experience. Once one has figured out what to do and how to do it, the real practice begins. Practice continues until perfection is reached.
The practice requires maintaining constant sustained observation of every thought and every emotion, from that place of non-judgemental detached awareness, and constantly pulling back to this place whenever you catch yourself having drifted out of awareness and into the Ego's mind theatrics.
To perfect this technique requires a level of daily practice that begins in the first moments of awakening in the morning and continues until one falls asleep at night.
This is a level of commitment that few seem to be willing to commit to. Such a level of commitment exceeds the level of commitment that world class musicians, singers, and athletes commit to, since they are afforded time away from their practice.
The results of this practice are directly proportional to the effort put in. 100% effort yields 100% results. Ninety minutes a week in meditation because that's all the time you have, well ???????
|Michael L. Fournier|