Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

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Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby Donna » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:31 pm

Eckhart Tolle definitely has helped me see how my thoughts produce suffering and what I can do about that suffering. I do appreciate his writing immensely. I also value that which is written or spoken through various gurus, however, sometimes I am left with an awkward feeling inside that I just can't put a finger on. I can hear some of you now, "that's your ego." Yes, it could be. When these awkward feelings arise, those that feel part of the suffering, I like to investigate them. This post is trying to uncover that which feels uncomfortable regarding the claims that ego is a negative part of us.

First, some quotes from E.T.'s A New Earth (thank you, Eric, for already having snipped these on your website):

An essential part of the awakening is the recognition of the unawakened you, the ego as it thinks, speaks, and acts, as well as the recognition of the collectively conditioned mental processes that perpetuate the unawakened state - Page 7

I can see where recognition of suffering so one can learn how not to suffer is helpful. "Unawakened" seems to be a label based on a subjective condition. There is no standard for being "awakened."

You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness. - Page 13

Emphasis added.

So in order for a fundamental change to occur, a situation first needs to arise? For Eckhart Tolle it was his "I can't live with myself anymore"...if one needed to put a label on that moment, is that "awakening"? What of Eckhart's process thereafter? In other words, ego can be the catalyst for that fundamental change. An opportunity for Awareness arises...

When you don't cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life - Page 26


Are we labeling that which helps us create a fundamental change...ego? There seems to be a contradiction here. If we are to create a fundamental change, we need to identify what that is, therefore, in this manifested form we have no choice but to label that which is the catalyst of change, ego.


Don't take the ego too seriously - Page 42


Hmmm...Yes, I don't want to take ego (note that Eckhart uses "too") seriously when it leads to suffering and goes against that fundamental change awareness points to....YET...let's consider this:

If we agree that everything is "God" (or insert your own version of the word here), everything arises from The Source, then it must be that God is ego.

What if Ego is the student and Awareness is Ego's teacher? I say it in this way, because it seems nothing in this world exists without some dependency on something else.

No ego can last for long without the need for more. Therefore, wanting keeps the ego alive much more than having. The ego wants to want more than it wants to have. And so the shallow satisfaction of having is always replaced by more wanting. - Page 46


What drives you to get out of bed in the morning? What drives or inspires you to pick up a book titled A New Earth or The Power of Now? Could it be that, at these times, Awareness, through "being" is now playing through ego, the "doing"?

The content of the ego varies from person to person, bu in every ego the same structure operates. - Page 60


But of course! And we cannot dismiss the Mooji's, Tony Parsons', Eckhart Tolle's of the world here in having their version of ego within themselves....

The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist. - Page 64


Now here is where the feeling of uncomfortable begins. As much as I want to believe "every word Eckhart Tolle says" somewhere in me this "Awareness and ego cannot coexist" does not feel right. Since Ego operates in Tolle as well, I wonder then, that we cannot be total Awareness at all times, and possibly not "everything" said on Awareness should be taken as "the truth" (please let's not argue what the word truth means here. I get the whole discussion behind THAT word). If there wasn't the label of ego, then there'd be no need for the label, Awareness. Awareness needs ego.

All egoic motivations are self-enhancement and self-interest, sometimes cleverly disguised, even from the person in whom the ego operates. - Page 98


!!!! - so the quote at the beginning of this post regarding "fundamental change".... if it wasn't for self-enhancement and self-interest (the reason why you are reading and writing on this forum), what job would Awareness have?

Awareness is the greatest agent for change. - Page 99


And there it is!

Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego. - Page 102


If we accept all of god within us, then we must accept that ego is a part of god. I am not wanting to burn up the ego, but "dance with it" as Amit Goswami's writing points to in his book The Visionary Window. Sorry I don't have a page and direct quote of this...If you think about it, this "burning up the ego" IS an egoic thought!

There is the dream, and there is the dreamer of the dream. The dream is a short-lived play of forms. It is the world – relatively real but not absolutely real. Then there is the dreamer, the absolute reality in which the forms come and go. The dreamer is not the person. The person is part of the dream. The dreamer is the substratum in which the dream appears, that which makes the dream possible. It is the absolute behind the relative, the timeless behind time, the consciousness in and behind form. The dreamer is consciousness itself – who you are. - Page 209


Ah,...back to dancing in the dreamtime. :-) There is no shadow without the light behind that shadow.
Last edited by Donna on Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby snowheight » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:29 am

Wow Donna, quite the ride. I got some spare change for a few tickets. Not to limit my fun (I reserve the possibility of responding more fully) but I wanted to jump in on these two in particular:

Donna wrote:If we accept all of god within us, then we must accept that ego is a part of god


Yeah that squares with lots of different ways to look at things and many a pointer ("everything is perfect as it is" ... "all is Brahmin" ... "there is no moment in your life when you haven't had exactly what you needed at that moment" ... blah blah blah). But it doesn't necessarily imply:

Donna wrote:if it wasn't for self-enhancement and self-interest (the reason why you are reading and writing on this forum)


And if that sounds egoic on my part ... well then we should all just accept that right? :mrgreen:

Donna wrote:Awareness needs ego.


Andy pointed out to me awhile back that ideas along these lines are re-statements of the heart sutra. Let's (*gasp!*) generalize on this notion and inquire about the relationship between formlessness and form.

Shakespeare put the words in Hamlet's mouth. Here are a couple of greatest hits that you might groove to for a spin. Without perspective, what is there to have perspective on? Certainly, from our current vantage point, how can we define the void?

But if you're in for a penny as they say ... if you're conceptualizing about people and ego's and time-bound processes, let me ask you, do you see the ego as necessarily necessary after you've recognized certain things about what the internal soundless voice is or isn't?
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby Donna » Fri Apr 20, 2012 5:06 am

snowheight wrote:
Donna wrote:if it wasn't for self-enhancement and self-interest (the reason why you are reading and writing on this forum)


And if that sounds egoic on my part ... well then we should all just accept that right? :mrgreen:


Yes, snowheight, we can accept wholeheartedly that this IS egoic on our parts while observing that this is also part of self-inquiry.

snowheight wrote:Shakespeare put the words in Hamlet's mouth. Here are a couple of greatest hits that you might groove to for a spin. Without perspective, what is there to have perspective on? Certainly, from our current vantage point, how can we define the void?


Thank you for your greatest hits. I saw many references in both those threads to "little me" and "little kid." So what does this say? It says to me that many of us, as adults, have the memory of and what it feels like to be "little." Can little be compared with immaturity? This is where Awareness comes to ego's aid and helps in ego's transformation.

snowheight wrote:But if you're in for a penny as they say ... if you're conceptualizing about people and ego's and time-bound processes, let me ask you, do you see the ego as necessarily necessary after you've recognized certain things about what the internal soundless voice is or isn't?


Yes! But ego then becomes a more beautiful instrument for Awareness to play through. Life isn't meant to be constantly observed from a park bench....we are meant to engage in it. Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a person bring you a sleeping bag, water, food, and a pot to piss in, then I think your ego has something going for it more than just awareness! :-)
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby snowheight » Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:06 pm

Donna wrote: But ego then becomes a more beautiful instrument for Awareness to play through.


Yes yes, that's certainly a very powerful way to see things ... it sounds alot like ET telling us to use the mind instead of letting the mind use us.

But there is another way to look at it.

I find this conversation rather serendipitous to ours ... to avoid reading into your response (as much as possible anyway) would it be fair to say that fortune has stated your position? ... there seems to be an assumption that living moment-to-moment without ego would result in an existence similar to Ramana's, do I have that about right?
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby Donna » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:36 pm

snowheight wrote:I find this conversation rather serendipitous to ours ... to avoid reading into your response (as much as possible anyway) would it be fair to say that fortune has stated your position? ... there seems to be an assumption that living moment-to-moment without ego would result in an existence similar to Ramana's, do I have that about right?


Yes, I started a draft for Fortune on the topic of 'motivation' last night. :-) I do not feel Fortune has stated my position. I do not come from what seems a state of despair or a confusion (if that is what fortune is feeling). I am very much enthralled with A New Earth and its teachings! However, I have the knack of paying attention to how some words feel as I read them. When Eckhart discusses ego and about "burning up ego" I noticed in my body a sensation that feels uneasy. I go back to these words (and actually others' discussion on this topic) and ask questions, being discerning of what I'm reading. I learn that it's OK to connect with what others are saying and yet in the end, make up my own mind. Now, Eckhart's opinion of what that uneasy feeling is, is the ego being found out. Sure, that can be true, but that's his opinion on what he "thinks" ego is doing. However, It could also be a moment where Awareness is pointing that which makes us feel uneasy (I am flipping it around) and asking us to pay attention to ego.

I need to read up on Ramana to see what you mean by his/her existence in order to make a similarity or not. So I'll get back to you on that one, snowheight! Thanks for engaging in the conversation.
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby snowheight » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:26 pm

Donna wrote:I need to read up on Ramana to see what you mean by his/her existence in order to make a similarity or not.


I look forward to the follow-up Donna. Similar to Ramana's experience was Tolle's years on the bench. So do you think that without the ego leading the way that Tolle wouldn't have gotten off the bench?
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby Donna » Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:25 pm

snowheight wrote:So do you think that without the ego leading the way that Tolle wouldn't have gotten off the bench?


I'd not consider it ego "leading the way" but feels more like....

Awareness: "Class dismissed!"
Ego: "Yippeee!"

That's not to say Ego doesn't come back from time to time for a refresher course. :-)

And that's not saying Ego doesn't have in its back pocket Awareness Guide to Living in the Now. Honestly, of course, this is just from my limited human perception, but it's fun and feels free playing with these ideas! The energy behind this doesn't feel as heavy and bogged down as the idea of burning ego up.

Can Ego reach complete Awareness status? That seems to be the huge question many really are asking, yet they keep wanting to take Ego out of the equation. To marginalize this part of us which others who have slapped a label onto, from Freud to Mooji to Goswami, why are we doing this?
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby Donna » Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:31 pm

snowheight wrote:
Donna wrote:I look forward to the follow-up Donna. Similar to Ramana's experience was Tolle's years on the bench.


AH! Ramana Maharshi !! Silly me... OK...I'm not a person who remembers names that well. I've read some stuff from this person and I definitely connect with some of what he says, but I don't know his life. I'll read more! I always like synchronistic pointers, which, I have a feeling, this might be one from you. :wink:

(Or, if I got the wrong ramana you are referring to let me know)
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby goldieflower » Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:44 pm

Donna wrote: ... but I don't know his life.


Hello! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o-71RBR ... re=related

The above movie will give you a good idea.

The below link is where I read and re-read his sayings (many topics to the left).

http://bhagwan-ramana-maharshi.blogspot ... i%20Quotes
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby Donna » Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:04 pm

goldieflower wrote:
Donna wrote: ... but I don't know his life.


Hello! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o-71RBR ... re=related

The above movie will give you a good idea.

The below link is where I read and re-read his sayings (many topics to the left).

http://bhagwan-ramana-maharshi.blogspot ... i%20Quotes


Thank you, goldieflower, for the links!
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby pindaros » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:13 am

Donna, the problem with thinking that I am the ego, and not that I am awareness, is not that the ego is "bad," whatever you take that to mean. The problem with thinking that I am the ego is twofold:
(1) the ego is suffering, and
(2) the ego is not who I am in the same way that awareness is who I am.

The ego is a character in a game, but awareness is who I am. Within the game, I may be a king, I may be a brilliant reader of Eckhart Tolle (seeing all his logical flaws), I may be a spurned lover, I may be an old man dying of cancer. I have very little control over what happens in the game, because within the game are many players, and everything happens according to a huge number of rules, only a few of which are known to me. Almost anything can happen in the game, which makes it very exciting, and engrossing. But some things are guaranteed in the game, foremost among them, that I will often fail to get what I want, and the game will end (for me) with my death.

In contrast, my awareness is everything. My body, my computer, my wife in bed next to me, my whole apartment, my city, you, and an endless flow of other things all belong to my awareness. They can undergo any number of changes, and will undergo changes, and they still remain in my awareness. My ideas, my knowledge, my sense of myself, and even my ego, all belong to my awareness, and they all change, but still remain in my awareness. My awareness is both my entire experience of myself and my entire experience of everything that I can think is other than myself. And it is all me, because if it wasn't me, I wouldn't be aware of it.

In my experience, it is very easy to think that I am only my ego and forget that I am my entire awareness. And because the ego is that part of my awareness that is engaged in playing a game, with winning and losing and ending in death, I can become both elated and despairing, and forget that I am also everything in my awareness. I read ET because he reminds me that I am my awareness, and that my ego is just a trick that my awareness is playing as part of a game. I don't think he is making a logical argument that proves that awareness is good and ego is bad, but just saying things to remind me of something that is directly perceivable, that I am awareness, and I pretend to be ego. This is very useful to me now, because my ego has gotten itself into a corner where things look pretty bad. But since I'm not my ego, but my awareness, then I don't have to suffer just because my ego is currently having to play a bad hand.

Now nothing in this says that playing the game is bad, but if you think that all you are is ego, and as ego you are suffering, it will make it really easy to justify spreading that suffering to other egos. From the perspective of the game, that's perfectly legitimate, since you can build yourself up by tearing others down. But from the perspective of awareness, you're just creating chaos that you will have to live through, since as awareness you are also all the other egos that you are aware of, not just the ego that you identify with. I assume that this is what ET is concerned about when he talks about the negative effect of ego in the world.

If your sense of yourself as awareness is very strong, you could conceivably get very involved in the game as ego, and not have it affect your sense of yourself as awareness. You'd be sort of like Krishna in the Mahabharata, who is this playful character in a world of tragedy and war, who stops the action before the battle that decides everything to explain to his best friend how none of it is anything other than the following of necessary rules. In terms of human beings who have actually awakened to the truth that they are awareness, the historical record suggests that they are so moved by the suffering of the unawakened that they prefer to take compassionate action from the perspective of awareness rather than continue to play in the field of karma as ego.

I apologize if this is all obvious stuff that misses the actual point of your original post. I'm new to this forum and new to Eckhart Tolle, so I apologize if I'm not understanding the finer points of your argument. I actually found what you wrote fairly confusing. So consider this a novice's attempt to make sure that you don't let the pleasures of intellectual play distract you from importance and clarity of ET's words about ego and awareness.
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby snowheight » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:36 am

Donna wrote:
snowheight wrote:So do you think that without the ego leading the way that Tolle wouldn't have gotten off the bench?


I'd not consider it ego "leading the way" but feels more like....

Awareness: "Class dismissed!"
Ego: "Yippeee!"

That's not to say Ego doesn't come back from time to time for a refresher course. :-)

And that's not saying Ego doesn't have in its back pocket Awareness Guide to Living in the Now. Honestly, of course, this is just from my limited human perception, but it's fun and feels free playing with these ideas! The energy behind this doesn't feel as heavy and bogged down as the idea of burning ego up.

Can Ego reach complete Awareness status? That seems to be the huge question many really are asking, yet they keep wanting to take Ego out of the equation. To marginalize this part of us which others who have slapped a label onto, from Freud to Mooji to Goswami, why are we doing this?


Ok I see where you're coming from and what you seem to be expressing is a vision of a nuanced interweaving of ego and being as we go about our business as opposed to assuming that ego is necessary for all movement in life. That assumption seems a common reactive question that pops up in the mind when we first consider the implications of all of this.

One really great use of the ego is to make a plan ... there are many an intricate process that we're involved with that calls for planning. Whenever I plan these days there is always this underlying feeling of mirth about it. It's in the execution of the plan, and in the reaction when the plan inevitably either falls apart completely or at least requires tweaking that we are presented with these wonderful opportunities to let go and be ourselves.

Eckhart would probably be the first to tell you that it wasn't his ego that was the source of the impulse to stand up and get off the bench or to start writing.
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby alex » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:38 am

Hey Donna :)

This post is trying to uncover that which feels uncomfortable regarding the claims that ego is a negative part of us.


I reckon there are all kinds of mind identified states (egos) out there. Happy ones, sad ones, broken ones, 'healthy' ones, needy ones, confident ones... etc. I think it is becoming more obvious, though, that this mind identified state is becoming increasingly dysfunctional. The rate of mental illness and suicide is increasing dramatically. Just in my own personal circle of friends and family I notice some serious dysfunction. Over half of us have had major mental issues. I reckon that kind of indicates that there is a wee problem with the common mode of human consciouness. Gotta say I agree with Tolle on that one.
I think an issue arises, however, when we take on the belief that the ego is bad. Thats just more layers of mind that can lead to a division within and quite a lot of suffering. Unfortunately, I think its a pretty unavoidable occurrence. Tolle is for the most part teaching to people who are completely identified with the mind. It is only natural that initially the mind is going to run away with all of these new beliefs it has taken on. It takes a fair bit of a process and a dash of grace for true waking up from the mind identified state to begin.
Ultimately the ego self is not negative, it does not truly exist at all. What is negative is being taken on this journey with the mind, being so asleep that you believe it to be who you are. When you are disconnected from the knowledge of your true source and so are taken on endless loopholes of suffering because you try to find stability and wholeness in this imaginery self and the transient world. That is the true problem, the case of mistaken identity, not the wee little voice in our head. We have no control over that. Which leads on to...

The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist. - Page 64



Now here is where the feeling of uncomfortable begins. As much as I want to believe "every word Eckhart Tolle says" somewhere in me this "Awareness and ego cannot coexist" does not feel right. Since Ego operates in Tolle as well, I wonder then, that we cannot be total Awareness at all times, and possibly not "everything" said on Awareness should be taken as "the truth" (please let's not argue what the word truth means here. I get the whole discussion behind THAT word). If there wasn't the label of ego, then there'd be no need for the label, Awareness. Awareness needs ego.


I think you are experiencing a wee misunderstanding. The ego Tolle refers to is the complete false identification with the mind, that false (ultimately nonexistent) self that we believe into existence. Ego is not the voice in the head it is the identification with that voice. When you are aware (conscious of your consciousness) you are not falsely identified with the mind. You are still in the knowledge of what you truly are. You can be completely aware and still experience a thought, you just see clearly that you are not that, you are that which contains that thought...
The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist.

Awareness and false identification cannot co-exist.

Get it??

In no way do you have to believe that the mind is bad and you have to get rid of it. You just have to see it clearly for what it is, wake up to your true nature so that you are no longer identified with it. I'm sure you know all that though :wink:
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby the key master » Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:56 am

Not bad stuff.

alex said,
When you are aware (conscious of your consciousness) you are not falsely identified with the mind. You are still in the knowledge of what you truly are. You can be completely aware and still experience a thought, you just see clearly that you are not that, you are that which contains that thought...


And at the end of the day, you're actually neither. You are neither a container or something contained. You are totally uncontained infinite potentiality expressing itself in finite form. :mrgreen:
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Re: Is Ego Getting A Bad Rap?

Postby Donna » Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:36 pm

the key master wrote:Not bad stuff.

alex said,
When you are aware (conscious of your consciousness) you are not falsely identified with the mind. You are still in the knowledge of what you truly are. You can be completely aware and still experience a thought, you just see clearly that you are not that, you are that which contains that thought...


And at the end of the day, you're actually neither. You are neither a container or something contained. You are totally uncontained infinite potentiality expressing itself in finite form. :mrgreen:


Awesome! Yes! I love this, Keymaster. THIS I do completely connect with and when the opening or expansion of this concept happens in its fleeting moments (for me), it's the most undescribable (bliss comes close) freeing experience EVER.

EDIT: OK maybe I got a little excited over grasping at the memory of those moments and say "so far." Cuz...who knows? :-)
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