Ego and suffering
If the ego is the “I, myself ” this feeling of existing as an independent individual, as necessary and even indispensable to our survival in this world, is this instance of our system so pregnant at every moment positive? What is its responsibility in our suffering and can we keep only the good side?
The ego is manifested in our lives by three kinds of attitudes:
– the attraction: I want what is good to me, pleasant
– repulsion: I do not want what seems bad, unpleasant
A series of behaviors, strategies, struggles to live according to the laws of our ego follows. We will see how this struggle is in fact responsible for some of our suffering.
Is the ego our enemy?
For the Buddhists, the ego has no existence of its own, is only a fictional construct, of the realm of illusion, and it is perfectly useless to struggle with its ego to diminish it. Because to fight against his ego is still the ego, the fruit of the will of the ego itself. Nevertheless, if there is an illusion, it is so powerful that in my opinion we can hardly speak of illusion, since we are immersed in it body and soul.
It is rather a question of regulating our ego in the most natural way, in order to reach the regulation of our thoughts and therefore of our action. We will see how meditation, a non-violent and natural method, is a method of choice for this regulation, this “reconciliation ” with oneself.
Ego and suffering
Once the ego is formed and consolidated through our experiences – we will not be able to escape it – many of our sufferings can come from it because of the process of identification with our ego. Our ego, with all its layers, its complex organization, becomes what we are, and out of it no sense of existence.
For Eckhart Tolle, much of our suffering is preventable and unnecessary, and we inflict it on ourselves! This is the avoidable suffering we are talking about here.
Indeed, if the ego gives us the sensation of existing, we confuse ego and existence. Thus, any threat to our ego becomes a threat to our own existence, a threat to our survival. It follows automatically a chain reaction related to stress and the release of hormones that correspond (adrenaline, cortisol …). The body reacts to this stress and therefore automatically starts either in “fight ” or “leak ” mode.
Let’s take the example of a simple remonstrance of the domestic order (“You did not bend your clothes “, “you put too much salt ” etc …): this attack against my ego is wrongly experienced as an attack against my survival and will trigger a lot of unnecessary stress. Aggression will call, as the case may be, a later impulse for revenge (a fight mode), or an impression of humiliation that is nothing but an ego injury (leakage mode). If the event repeats itself, the stress becomes pain.
This identification can be done at different levels:
– on our job;
– our beliefs and convictions (eg suicide bombers who die for their convictions, who annihilate their very existence for the survival of their ego !!);
– our physical appearance (the desire to maintain a youthful appearance with drifts towards aesthetic obsession);
– our nationality;
– and even our diseases (which prevents us from really wanting to heal, the care then becoming a threat to this ego-disease so solidly constituted) …
Thus, any attack or even criticism against these instances becomes an attack on our own existence!
Now, it is clear that limiting our existence to this sum of superficial things is a delusion: we have in us an immutable space, the Self, the inner being, which lives outside the ego and is not that rarely threatened … except by the ego precisely! It’s up to us to give it back its first and foremost place in our lives.
Ego and presence
The ego has its own laws, which are contrary to those of the present moment. He constantly refers to experience, experience, our prejudices, our fears, our education. When we react with our ego, we come out of the presence of action that we are doing.
To minimize our suffering, we can cling to what in us does not age: our ability to wonder, our taste, humor, create … The example of people at the end of life, supported by the Palliative Care Units, demonstrates this. But if we focus on the ego, if we let it fully define ourselves, these abilities disappear, as the possibility of living in the present moment disappears, including the last moment, that of the passage of death (the “no -sage “).
In short, the ego is not our enemy as long as we hold it at a distance, and it is enough for us to exercise a minimum of vigilance with regard to the so-called threats present to us. We will discover that, often, what makes me suffer is the wound felt by my ego and that it is she who will dictate a series of reactions that I will find it difficult to get out … so try the vigilance, and you will see !
The ego is the organ that we build tirelessly separates us, even though we humans are by nature beings of intercommunication, beings of bondage.