The ego thrives on others’ attention, which is after all a form of psychic energy.
Any conceptual sense of self – seeing myself as this or that – is ego, whether predominately positive (I am the greatest) or negative (I am no good). Many people fluctuate between feelings of inferiority and superiority, depending on situations or the people they come into contact with. All you have to know is: Whenever you feel superior or inferior to anyone, that’s the ego in you.
Villain, Victim, Lover
If some egos can not get positiv attention, they may seek negative attention instead, for example, by provoking a negative reaction in someone else.
A very common role is the one of the victim. It seeks sympathy or pity in “me and my story”. The ego does not want an end to its “problems” because they are part of its identity. If no one will listen to my sad story, I can tell it to myself in my head, over and over and feel sorry for myself.
However role-playing is hard work and so those roles cannot be sustained indefinitely, especially once you start living together. What is commonly called “falling in love” is in the most cases an intensification of egoic wanting and needing. You become addicted to another person, or rather to your image of that person. It has nothing to do with true love, which contains no wanting whatsoever.
Imagine a Lake. The surface of the lake changes every time. Sometimes it is rough, sometimes its still. But even if the surface is rough the depth of the lake remains undisturbed. You are the lake in its depth. Your external life is the surface of things, your ego, the world of form and also your thoughts. The Presence is the bottom of the lake. It´s wonderfull when you recognize that your inner state is no longer dependent on and determined by what happens on the surface. That is true freedom. Freedom of external conditions.
Letting go of self-definitions
In the modern world, more and more people are confused as to where they fit in, what their purpose is, and even who they are. But if they say “I don’t know who I am” is not confusion. Confusion is: “I don’t know but I should know” or “I don’t know but I need to know”. Is it possible to let go of the belief that you should or need to know who you are? In other words, can you cease looking to conceptual definitions to give you a sense of self? When you fully accept that you don’t know, you actually enter a state of peace and clarity that is closer to who you truly are than thought could ever be. Defining yourself through thought is limiting yourself.
Pre-established Roles and temporary roles
When you are completely identified with a role you confuse a pattern of behavior with who you are, and you take yourself very seriously. You also assign roles to others.
When you are identified with a role you are not interacting with an human being but with a conceptual mental image of this human being. So YOU are not relating with that person at all, but who you think you are is relating to who you think the other person is and vice versa. So every egoic interaction between two people is in reality the interaction between four conceptual mind-made identities that are ultimately fictions. It is therefore not surprising there is so much conflict in relationships.
Happiness as a role vs. true happiness
In many cases, happiness is role people play, and behind the smiling facade there is a great deal of pain.
If there is unhappiness in you, first you need to acknowledge that it is there. But don’t say, “I’m unhappy” becuase unhappiness has nothing to you with who you are. Say: “There is unhappiness in me.” Then investigate it. Maybe it is a situation you are in. Then action is required to change the situation or remove yourself from it. If there is nothing you can do face what is and say: “Well, right now, this is how it is. I can either accept it, or make myself miserable.”
The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Seperate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts about it.
Be aware that what you think, to a large extent, creates the emotions that you feel. See the link between your thinking and your emotions. Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.
Don’t seek happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness. Happiness is ever elusive, but freedom from unhappiness is attainable now, by facing what is. Unhappiness covers up your natural state of well-being and inner peace, the source of true happiness.
Parenthood: Role of Function ?
The all important question is: Are you able to fulfill the function of being a parent and fulfill it well, without identifying with that function, that is, without it becoming a role?
Awareness is the greatest agent of change.
Sometimes children think that they can’t feel happy and comfortable with who they are unless they have their parents approval and understanding. Really? What difference does their approval or understanding truly make to who they are?
Without suffering human beings would not evolve, they would remain shallow, identified with external form of things. Suffering drives you deeper. The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form and erodes identification with form. The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it.
The child has a deep longing for the parent to be there as a human being, not as a role. You may be doing all the right things and the best you can for your child, but even doing the best you can is not enough. In fact, doing is never enough if you neglect Being.
If you are in the grip of the ego, you believe that by doing more and more you will eventually accumulate enough “doings” to make yourself feel complete at some point in the future. You won’t. You will only lose yourself in doing. The entire civilization is losing itself in doing that is not rooted in Being and thus becomes futile.
As you look at, listen to, touch, or help your child with this or that, you are alert, still, completely present, not wanting anything other than that moment as it is. In this way, you make room for Being.
Recognizing your Child
Mastery of life is not a question of control, but of finding a balance between human and Being. Mother, father, husband, wife, young, old, the roles you play, the functions you fullfill, whatever you do – all that belongs to the human dimension. It needs to be honored, but it is not enough for a truly meaningful relationship of life. Human alone is never enough, no matter how hard you try or what you achieve. Then there is Being. Human in form. Being is formless. Human and Being are not separate but interwoven.
Giving up Role-Playing
To do whatever is required of you in any situation without it becoming a role that you identify with is an essential lesson in the art of living that each one of us is here to learn.
You become most powerful in whatever you do if the action is performed for its own sake rather as a means to protect, enhance, or conform to your role identity.
If the egoic earth drama has any purpose at all, it is an indirect one: It creates more and more suffering on the planet, and suffering, although largely ego-created, is in the end also ego-destructive. It is the fire in which the ego burns itself up.
Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as a field of conscious Presence.
Why does the ego play roles? Because of one unexamined assumption, one fundamental error, one unconscious thought. That thought is: I am not enough. Other unconscious thoughts follow: I need to play a role in order to get what I need to be fully myself.; I need to get more so that I can be more. In form, you are and will always be inferior to some, superior to others. In essence, you are neither inferior nor superior to anyone. True self-esteem and true humility arise out of that realization.
The pathological Ego
Unhappiness is a ego-created mental-emotional disease that has reached epidemic proportions. Negative states such as anger, anxiety, hatred, resentment, discontent, envy, jealousy, and so on, are not recognized as negative but as totally justified and are further misperceived not as self-created but as caused by someone else or some external factor.
The ego can not distinguish between a situation and its interpretation of and reaction to that situation. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Whenever you are in a negative state, there is something in you that wants the negativity, that perceives it as pleasure or that believes it will get you what you want. Otherwise, who would want to hang on negativity? If in the midst of negativity you are able to realize ” At this moment I am creating suffering for myself” it will be enough to raise you above the limitations of conditioned egoic states and reactions. You will be free to let go of your unhappiness the moment you recognize it as unintelligent. Negativity is not intelligent. It is always of the ego. The ego may be clever , but it is not intelligent. Cleverness pursues its own little aims. Intelligence sees the larger whole in which all things are connencted. Cleverness is motivated by self-interest, and it is extremely short-sighted. Whatever is attained through cleverness is short-lived and always turns out to be eventually self-defeating. Cleverness divides; intelligence includes.
The background unhappiness
Apart from the obvious forms of negativity like anger, hatred, and so on are also more subtle forms which create a sense of a background unhappiness. You need to be extremely alert and absolutely present to be able to detect them. One of the most common negative states which is easily overlooked, precisely because it is so common is: Do you often experience a feeling of discontent that could best be described as a kind of background resentment? It may be either specific or nonspecific. Underlying that feeling are certain unconsciously held beliefs, that is to say thoughts. The structure of these thoughts can be like :
There is something that needs to happen in my life before I can be at peace (happy, fulfilled, etc.). And I resent that it hasn’t happend yet. Maybe my resentment will finally make it happen.
Something happened in the past that should not have happened, and I resent that. If that hadn’t happened, I would be at peace now.
Something is happening now that should not be happening, and it preventing me from being at peace now.
Often the unconscious beliefs are directed toward a person and so “happening” becomes “doing”:
You should do this or that so that I can be at peace. And I resent that you haven’t done it yet. Maybe my resentment will make you do it.
Something you (or I) did, said, of failed to do in the past is preventing me from being at peace now.
What you are doing or failing to do now is preventing me from being at peace.
The Secret of Happiness
The ego says: ” Maybe at some point in the future, I can be at peace – if this, that, or the other happens, or I obtain this or become that. Or it says: I can never be at peace because of something that happened in the past. Listen to people’s stories and they could all be entitled “Why I cannot be at peace Now”. The ego doesn’t know that your only opportunity for being at peace is now. Or maybe it does know, ant it is afraid that you may find this out. Peace, after all, is the end of the ego.
But how to be at peace now? By making peace with the present moment. The present moment is the field on which the game of life happens. The are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life. Being One with Life is being One with Now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you.
What is reality? Whatever is.
Take responsibility for your inner state at any given moment. Ask yourself: “Is there negativity in me at this moment?” Then become alert to your thoughts as well as your emotions. Watch out for thoughts that appear to justify or explain this unhappiness but in reality cause it.
Aim for the shift from thinking to awareness, then an intelligence far greater than the ego’s cleverness begins to operate in your life. Emotions and even thoughts become depersonalized through awareness. There is no longer a self in them. It no longer forms the basis for your sense of identity.
Pathological Forms of the Ego
The stronger the ego in you, the more likely it is that in your perception other people are the main source of problems in your life.
During conflicts each person is so identified with the thoughts that make up their opinion, that those thoughts harden into mental positions which are invested with a sense of self. In other words: Identity and thought merge. Once this has happend, when I defend my opinions (thoughts), I feel and act as if I were fighting for survival and so my emotions will reflect this unconscious belief. In Zen they say: “Don’t seek the truth. Just cease to cherish opinions.”
Work – With and Without Ego
When work is no more than a means to an end, it cannot be of high quality.
The ego’s unconscious core feeling of “not enough” causes it to react to someone else’s success as if that success had taken something away from “me”. The ego doesn’t know that your resentment of another person’s success curtails your own chances of success. In order to attract success, you need to welcome it wherever you see it.
Incontrovertible Proof of Immortality
There is no such thing as “my life”. If there is such a thing as “my life”, it follows that I and life are two separate things, and so I can also lose my life, my imaginary treasured possession.Words and concepts split life into separate segments that have no reality in themselves. I don’t have a life. I am life. I and life are one. So how could I lose my life? How can I lose something that I don’t have in the first place? How can I lose something that I am? It is impossible.