We tend to hear a lot of terrible things about the ego. How the ego destroys your life by burying you selfish emotions and acts. I have written a few articles myself on how the placation of the ego can be a most draining and self defeating idea.
But I think that there can be a great mistake made if you pursue this to extremes. The problem comes when we get lost in semantics and when slight variations in language obscure the greater reality. This happens when as Alfred Korzybski said, we “confuse the map with the territory”.
Tomato and tomatoe might sound different yet be the same thing , while ego for the sake of self centered self importance might be one thing while ego for the sake of personal power, might be something all together poles apart.
The inability to write down in a coherent way, what you know and what you have experienced is a topic that has kept philosophical debates alive and well for centuries, and this subject matter is much to deep to pursue right now, it is also not the matter of this present article.
I want to discuss something that seems altogether simpler yet if understood in its profundity, if grasped beyond the map level to the point where you can make it your own at a personal level, it can change the way you function and can turn your efforts into truly grand endeavors.
The ego is a black sheep in the modern psychological cosmology. The infusion of Eastern and specifically Buddhist thought, have put a black cloud over the ego and its selfish ways. Me culture is bad culture and we are reminded everyday about how terrible it is by watching the latest Hollywood star giving the bird to the cameras as they snort coke and mistreat everyone around them.
Sadly the poor ‘self’ sufferers from a case of simplification and before you know it; everybody wants to eradicate something that is literally holding them together. An explanation of the power of the ego is perhaps in order so that all the righteous ego killers can be somewhat appeased.
The ego as we understand it is the one thing that holds the being that you call (I) together. Your ego is you. Within your psyche, you find an infinitude of individual thoughts, beliefs, ideas and selves that fight for dominance over your present being. I am legion, means that you are made of a multitude of selves that are constantly asserting themselves for dominance over your individual being.
The Ego is the one cohesive factor that holds them all in place, and a healthy Ego maintains a living network of realities that coalesce into what you call ‘you’. I am at times practical, while at other times I can be quite clever or subtle or loud or strong, etc. At each one of these moments, I assert a differ part of myself, a different part of the legion of me’s the exists within my psyche.
If my Ego is strong and healthy, then my selves are never over dominant, to anyone degree or another. I am balanced knowing that right now I might feel timid and afraid but that this is not the totality of myself; but just another facet that will most likely be replaced shortly by an equally powerful and dominating me.
Therefore thank your Ego for it is the lord of the manor and the holder of the keys to the castle. A person that has a weak Ego, or an Ego that has been damaged in some way by a traumatic experience, would show any one of the many symptoms that you see in an insane asylum.
But beyond this we must realize that a strong sense of ME identity is a very good thing. In order to face the world in a powerful way, you need to have a strong self presence. You need to believe in yourself, in your abilities and in your destiny.
I am that I am.
Certainly I will fall but I will get up to fight again because I am strong and I will prevail. I was meant to be happy, and wealthy, and I am here to see and feel all of the joys of this world. I am that which loves and I am that which hates.
It is the weak Ego that falls for the seven deadly sins. It finds that it cannot contain its desire to eat and eat, or rage and hate, or…pick your poison.
In order to be strong, the Ego must be made stronger. The old masters forever tell their pupils to let go of the self and attain perfection; this is a case of semantic error. The master does not mean eradicate yourself, what he is trying to say is that you must develop a more educated Ego. An Ego that can encompass the idea that there are times when it has to let go of the reigns ever so slightly so that ‘I’ can accomplish that which ‘I’ could not accomplish before.
I was scared and that scared self KNEW that it could not jump over that chasm but I let go of all those things in me that held me back until something inside me made me jump, and when I awoke, I was standing on the other side. Afterwards I knew that I was the one that was holding me back, but now I have become more than I was, and I now understand that I can be the scared person that will not dare and the person that can transcend that person who could not.
So the Ego was not terminated, and it is not the lack of Ego that will set you free. What will allow you to do the impossible is the ability to let your Ego grow in complexity and strength. To do this you will have to learn to stop your current self or selves from asserting their dominant beliefs upon you, ever trustful that your strong Ego will hold together the totality of your being. And when you act and are successful, a new self will be born that will understand that what it thought was impossible was just a limiting thought held by a different self, and at a different time. A self that is not the totality of your being but just one of the many aspects of your being, a wonderful being, with a strong and flexible Ego as its front line general.
So begin your journey towards a better you by loving yourself. Tell yourself that you are great and that you will do great things. That all the pleasures of the world belong to you and whatever hardship might come, you will overcome.
Realize that you are more than what you believe that you are. That even if you fell into the chasm of everlasting darkness, You will survive for you are never ending.
I am myself but I can also imaginatively be that tree over there. I will not stop being myself, for I cannot be destroyed, so I will learn to allow myself to be the tree completely, and the person that imagines that he is the tree completely. And in this way my Ego grows so that while just before I was just me, I can now be; me, the tree, and myself being me and the tree together.
I am that I am.