In Eckart’s book, A new earth, in chapter 3, he said that ego and awareness cannot coexist. That as soon as you become aware of a facet of ego in you, it is no longer the ego, but just an old conditioned mind pattern.
I understand what he is referring to here. Ego is automated responses to the ego’s perception of the present moment. The core of who and what we are is aware, and that awareness can be directed. As soon as our awareness is directed upon something or someone, ego is no longer automating responses and perception of what we are aware of. It simply isn’t present where our awareness extends, because its not needed there.
That is because our ego is a tool. Its our tool, its a tool that remembers everything we ever experience and everything we tell it to do. Over the years, we give it so many conflicting instructions and have given over so much of our decision making to it, that it can no longer operate in a way that truly serves us.
I have two analogies for the ego, pick whichever makes more sense to you.
- The ego is the en-masse collection of performers of an orchestra. The instruments are the body of an individual. The sheet music is the instructions that the conductor/composer has given the ego to perform at the appropriate time and tempo.
- The ego is the operating system of the computer, the computer hardware is the body of the individual the software (programs, apps) are the instructions that the programmer has given the ego to execute when certain conditions are met.
The true essence of the individual, the awareness beyond the ego, the one that receives these words, that one is either the composer/conductor or the programmer in my analogies.
So many people villianize their ego. They come to regard it as an enemy they are the victim of. They don’t realize that in failing to truly own full responsibility for our ego, we are simply adding to the mass of conflicting instructions we offer it. This is further complicated by the fact that the ego adds to its own programming based on what we’ve told it to do in the past.
For example, a dog bites a child and that child, while experiencing fear for survival and pain decides that dogs are bad and that they aren’t going to be around them anymore. The ego receives the child’s decision that dogs are bad. Over the years, the child avoids dogs. Perhaps by automatically moving away, (without even really thinking about it), anytime one comes near. Then, one time, the child can’t get out of the way fast enough and automatically lashes out, kicking the dog in an attempt to protect themselves. But that child has been told over and over, and has accepted the idea as part of their ego, that kicking animals is bad. So the child then feels bad for attempting to protect themselves.
The ego is more than capable of applying old logic to similar situations, so it collects experiences and decisions and connects them and stacks them upon each other until what you have is a bloody, egoic mess of conflicting ideas that are all just trying to act themselves out in every moment of the day that we are not consciously directly.
The ego is what we have programmed it to become. It is possible to clean up that programming, but it isn’t easy. I think I’m going to write a book one day on how to reprogram your ego so it becomes more useful and less intrusive in its automating behaviors.
To sum up, the ego is a substitute for relating directly to the world in this moment and it is a necessary part of a holistic body/mind/soul existence. For example, the ego offers some distance when we are unable to process everything occurring in a moment, intense emotion or trauma perhaps. It also provides us with analysis based on past experience and accumulated knowledge. The ego is the driver of a multitude of automated functions so that the individual does not need to maintain perfect awareness in every moment of everything occuring and so the mind and body do not become overwhelmed with data/experience.