Author Topic: What is the ego and what does it do?  (Read 2989 times)

Hazmatac

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What is the ego and what does it do?
« on: September 10, 2008, 01:59:11 AM »
And why do I hear it brought up a lot in Buddhism? Thank you

Robert

(edited)PS From what I've heard it is a feeling of seperateness, like you get the feeling you're different from others. I don't know what this means or why it is important, and maybe this will clear up some confusion in others. Thank you for your replies in advance.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 02:17:14 AM by Hazmatac »

Hazmatac

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Re: What is the ego and what does it do?
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2008, 06:54:50 AM »
nobody?

Matthew

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Re: What is the ego and what does it do?
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2008, 09:28:38 AM »
Hazmatac

The Ego in Buddhism is very different to the ego in western psychology.

In western Psyclology the "ego" is the healthy sense of self as contrasted to the "id" which is the animal instinctive part of self and the "super-ego" which is the parental controlling voice (which holds back the id from doing all kinds of animalistic things).

This is Freuds' basic schema of the self with these parts being quite solid entities.

The Buddhist concept of "ego" is completely different to this. It is based on non-self - a fundamental discovery of the Buddha (called anatman in sanskrit - "an" being a negation prefix as in Latin and "atman" meaning soul or self).

The Buddha said we have no solid soul or self, that we are a melting pot of processes constantly changing and bubbling up into conscious thought. We identify with this level of conscious thought and call this me, myself, I - we make it into a solid thing whereas the Buddha discovered it is a fluid thing like a pot of boiling water. And we identify with the bubbles on the top and call this "me". This false identification is Buddhist ego.

So in Buddhism the ego is the false sense of a solid self or "me" that is not really there - actually we are a constantly-in-motion set of processes and one of these is a storytelling facility that makes us happy by "knowing who we are" - but this is false and in meditation one strips away the accumulated layers of solidified habitual self and uncovers the ever changing landscape of mental processes that lays behind it.

Then one sees for oneself how this sense of me is false because one sees that it is ever changing, ideas bubbling up into consciousness from nowhere and disappearing to nowhere but that we sometimes cling to one of them and say "oh this is me" but it is an arbitrary choice and not real.

This is ego in Buddhist thinking and is starkly different to the solidified mental structures Freud talked of. Or rather our approach to it is. Psychotherapy aims for a "healthy ego", meditation aims to reduce the pile of accumulated crap called "ego", eventually reducing it to - or letting us see it as - nothing - which is what it really is anyway.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew

Wikipedia references that may help you understand this:

Atman

Id, Ego and Super-Ego
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 09:43:57 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

mettajoey

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Re: What is the ego and what does it do?
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2008, 12:45:35 PM »
I love that boiling water and the bubbles analogy.
Awesome, thanks
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Staff
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: What is the ego and what does it do?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2008, 09:26:56 PM »
I love that boiling water and the bubbles analogy.
Awesome, thanks

Yes and in meditation we're firstly turning down the heat so there are less bubbles .. then as the water cools we can dive in.

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Hazmatac

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Re: What is the ego and what does it do?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2008, 10:00:40 PM »
Nice. I've noticed that when I sit for enough time the mind settles down and i am more aware of my breathing.

Hazmatac

  • Member
Re: What is the ego and what does it do?
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2008, 03:46:57 AM »
Does anyone have an example of the 'ego in action'?

 

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