There is a lot of attention paid to the ego in both our enterprising society and in spiritual circles alike. While one believes that having an ego will get you places in the world, the other – not so much. As a longtime student of The Course in Miracles, and an avid reader of scientific studies focused on both the mind and brain, I have gradually become acquainted with the many dynamics of ‘ego-ness’ and I have struggled with that wily villain for years.
What is the ego? Is it the destructive version of ‘the still small voice’? And, if that is true, then why is it so difficult to hear the encouraging prompts from the real ‘still small voice’ and hard to avoid the blaring insults from the ego? If an angel sits on one shoulder, does the ego sit on the other in some wickedly devilish form? Would life really be blissful if we didn’t have the ego constantly shrouding our thoughts and life experiences with gloomy overtones? Would we truly be Enlightened Beings if we didn’t have the ego acting as interpreter of our experiences?
It is difficult to say how much of my lifetime can be attributed to ego’s wicked control of my senses. All the moments gripped in fear or floating in powerlessness or wallowing anger, hours spent ruminating on unchangeable situations of the past — all time I’ve handed my life’s living over to the control of ‘the ego’. The days, if not months and years spent in self-doubt or fear – is time lost to this invisible task master. Even a broader understanding brought about by study, backed up by contemplation and meditation has seldom brought more than momentary respite from the ego. So, why is that?
To give this subject proper consideration it might help to look at the various definitions of ego. According to the dictionary ego represents self-esteem, as in a person’s idea of importance or self-worth – not necessarily a bad thing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, ego becomes a problem when it turns into an inflated opinion of self leading to an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a feeling of superiority to other people.
According to Freud, ego represented one of three main divisions of the mind, containing consciousness and memory and involved with control, planning, and conforming to reality, whereas, philosophy simply attributes ego to the individual self, as distinct from the outside world and other selves. A Course in Miracles talks about the ego in illusive terms, quite literally. The ego is an illusion similar to what darkness is when you turn on the lights. It is there, but not really there and only has power whence you give it your full attention.
Ego vs. Thought Viruses vs. Memes
I rather think of ego as a roiling mass of thought viruses (sometimes called memes) – viruses we have been infected with by our parents, siblings, and the world at large, and experiences compounded by pain and fear. Like an amorphous cloak through over the shoulders, it is something that we also carry around with us from one incarnation to the next, but it is not attached to our spiritual body once our physical body dies, though it is right at hand as soon as we emerge as babies, fresh from the womb of higher consciousness. The ego doesn’t necessarily reside in the brain or mind, rather it encases our entire physical and nonphysical bodies is an invisible web of illusions and delusions that can be triggered by anything that grabs our attention. The networks of the ego will continue to grow and develop throughout a lifetime, grabbing onto bits and pieces of distortions of truth and storing them into the fabric of itself to be released over time into the physical body like poison.
The Way Out
Patricia Cota-Robles talks about the ego as something that can be shed, and ‘returned to the light’. She even has an invocation that you can listen to directing the “… lower human ego to release me, and return to the light.” I have listened to Patricia’s incantation many times, and I find it quite helpful. In fact, it is very helpful to realize that perhaps we really can divest ourselves of the cloak of the ego, shedding it like snake sheds its skin; leaving our true self free to manifest peaceful co-existence in the world.
But every time I do this exercise in meditation I find that my ego does not belong in the light, in fact it has no affinity for the light – it belongs to the earth and it will dissolve into the earth once released by command. I have puzzled over the reason why my ego’s home away from existence within me is in the earth, and I’ve come to understand that the natural home of all ego energy resides in the 2nd dimension, which has a temporal doorway inside the physical earth (the core of the earth being the 1st dimension). This is why it returns to the earth, not to the higher vibrations of the Light.
A word of caution when using this incantation: Although you may experience a sense of almost instant peacefulness, commanding the ego ‘away’ – it is not a permanent solution. That bugger will be right back, as soon as you get distracted by life and turn your mind away from the intention to live without it. But the good news is that every time you work the exercise of commanding the ego to be gone, and then each time it comes back – it will be a little thinner and have less mass to draw from. I don’t know why this is, but each time it is commanded away, upon its return it does seem to lose its ability to inflict such rampant thought viruses with ease.
The Over-Evolved Ego
What is the ego and why has it become such a difficult roommate? The answer is twofold; physical survival and human evolution.
The way I understand it from my ‘higher source’ informants is that when humans first emerged onto the earth plane, they weren’t necessarily physical in form – they had a density but they lacked substance and since the impulse that brought them to this state was to truly experience lifecycles on earth, they needed to get fully physical.
Once manifested in physical form, most of these beings were still completely connected to their nonphysical selves, and had difficulty actually staying in physical form. They tended to be clumsy and they did what we would now consider stupid things that put their bodies at risk and in danger. And let’s face it; dying is no picnic, but eventually enough beings manifested long enough in physical form to create the human birth cycle. Now, humans born on earth naturally had an entirely new perspective of existence – they had to start from scratch, and they were not necessarily connected to their higher senses of self, but they learned how to survive – and thrive on earth. When these people died the life experience itself actually created a memory shell that contained all of their more useful earth-bound knowledge, which was reunited with the individual beings once they chose to incarnate again. This was done as a way to preserve valuable information and to create a continuum of skills necessary for earthly survival (aka instinct). This was the birth of the ego.
Now, as to how the ego became such a difficult aspect to deal with, I have a couple of theories on that, one being that we may have forgotten how to purge the ego of unnecessary and unhelpful bits of information and memories amplified by fear and pain, so it seems to just compound over time. Considering that humans have been on this planet literally hundreds of thousands of years, there must be incalculable quantities of data stored away, which represent an equal number of egos waiting on the 2nd dimension with feelings and emotions that have never, or seldom been purged.
Purging the Ego of Power
As I write this I realize that there really is a way to purge the ego of unwanted ideas, thoughts and memories before we die and while we are still living – and that is through forgiveness. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, I can tell you from my service in the Hospice sector, many, many people die without ever even considering the notion of forgiving anyone or thing before they pass on – including themselves. So, it makes perfect sense that these attitudes and feelings are left on earth when our bodies die, just waiting for the opportunity to be reunited with their creator – you.
Another factor to consider about the ego is evolution. When humans first came on the scene, they needed the ego to keep them alive and to keep them from doing stupid things. However, I don’t believe that the ego was ever meant to be a permanent fixture in our experiences over lifetimes. Rather we are meant to mature and develop to such a point where we don’t need the ego to remind us that walking off a cliff can be hazardous to our health. Over time basic survival information has been stored the DNA, and so we no longer need to depend on the ego to keep us alive, as it were.
Free at Last
So the answer to how to permanently release ourselves from our egos is this; do the “release my physical body …” exercise as part of your regular meditation routine, as well as whenever you find your mind wandering to thoughts of how annoying your neighbor is or how you wish you had a shiny red car to drive. Eventually the ego will become so thin that even when you forget to do the exercise, its impact will be easily managed by maintaining a higher level of awareness. The other thing to add to this recipe is forgiveness. Take the time to look at your life and release any and all old grudges, wounds, expectations and unhealthy ties. Do this on a routine basis and I’m betting the next time you decide to become human – your ego will be a lot less difficult to deal with. Heck, you might not even notice you have one!