Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word “water” is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so too the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism. ~Alan Watts
You are born with pure and untainted consciousness; there is no identity, no preconceived notions of past or future, and so on. You continuously observe, accept, and act . As life goes on, we start developing and feeding this identity me which we call ego by creating likes and dislikes, distinctions of mine and yours, or good and bad. As these sets of beliefs get stacked ever higher, the actions, reactions, and desires of your ego start consolidating and solidifying [until you equate your beliefs with who you are].
Ego is not created overnight. Ego develops from deep underlying subconscious and conscious patterns over a lifetime. Ego is also not just limited to the brain’s intellect, it seeps into the mind, body, sensations, perception and permeates the whole being. But still, it is not you.
The Ego’s role
Ego is an important part of your existence, so it serves a purpose. The ego:
Helps you defend and protect yourself.
Helps you perceive and adapt to changes in outer reality.
Reconciles conflicting impulses and ideas.
Gives you a sense of individuality and social interdependence, which are very important attributes to fit into and function within society.
The Ego’s Limitations
The ego keeps you away from realizing your true reality .
With ego comes attachment and therefore suffering.
Ego’s innate desire is to be permanent and the universe’s innate nature is impermanence. If your Ego is solidified, it lacks the ability to flow and play with the universe, creates friction, and further limits your growth in the right direction.
To give some examples, let’s say you pick up a skill and practice it every single day, for as long as you can remember. Over time it becomes your second nature. To mistake that skill for your true nature is false, because the skill does not have an intrinsic existence of its own; it depends on your consciousness. The same principle applies to ego, you create and practice it to function in society. It gets ingrained in you to such a degree that you start seeing everything from the filter of your ego. Thus, the ego limits you to see reality as it is, which is infinite.
Let’s take another instance, When a child owns a toy and you take it away from them, they are not crying because a toy is taken away from them, they cry because their toy is taken away. Something they identified and attached to is separated and that attachment (mine) is what causes suffering. Not the toy itself. Now magnify that situation across many situations through childhood and up to adulthood. When we have a sense of ownership over something (it could be objective—material, or subjective—experience) and then lose it, we interpret it as the thing in itself causing the pain, but actually it’s our attachment to it.
The Ego seeks permanence and the nature of the universe is impermanent. If you feel ecstatic in one moment and want to hold on to that ecstasy forever, then you will suffer when things inevitably change. So, instead of flowing with nature and the universe, you are constantly going against it.
How to realize the true nature of your reality
You can start by inquiring into who you really are. Is it just this name, this set of beliefs, this material, these likes or desires, is it this body, or this brain, or is there something deeper? Start breaking the walls created by the ego and start seeing reality as it is. There’s nothing more liberating than freeing yourself from this identity you have created.
Intellectual understanding can only take you so far. Practices like yoga, movement, or meditation, are powerful tools to help you self realize and to see your ego objectively. These practices will assist you to experience this understanding. Of course, doubts will arise. Try to observe them and keep on going, seek support or guidance where necessary.
Understanding and knowing your true nature and potential goes beyond ego, but ego is an essential part and will help guide you towards unlocking your true self. Don’t create an aversion towards it; love it, acknowledge it, and continue on the journey to understanding who you really are.
Hold this understanding, look deeper, and unlock the freedom within.
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To be continued ………