Author Topic: What exactly IS the ego?  (Read 4222 times)

lokariototal

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What exactly IS the ego?
« on: September 09, 2013, 06:14:40 PM »
What exactly IS the ego?

Correct me if im wrong, but I think of the ego as the mental construct we have of ourselves, and our lives. For example, my name is such and such, I consider myself to be bla bla, I like bla bla, and my past is such and such.

This to me is the ego. It's just a bunch of thoughts that make who we think we are.

Am I right?

Joe

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Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2013, 07:20:04 PM »
Pretty much how I would have written it.

More often than not it's after speaking that I'm most conscious of the ego. It flares up then leaves me wishing I hadn't said anything at all.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2013, 07:40:52 PM »
I think that's pretty much it. I guess by extension, its the construct that leads to a dualist view of the world; here is me here, and here is everything else. It's the foundation of how we come to judge and measure everything, big/small, near/far, bad/good, etc etc. Once you can see past your own ego, you should be less prone to clinging and aversion, and more integrated.

Quardamon

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Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2013, 09:07:25 PM »
I agree too.
The trick is, not to look down on the fact that consciousness works this way and that social interaction works this way.
While rowing as hard as I can and as a part of a team, my ego is different from when I am typing in reply to someone on a forum.
Honestly, I do not understand the ego-bashing that is done often times in "spiritual" social circles. With circles around a master I do understand: Anything that is powerful and goes against the will of the master is called "your ego" by the master. That is part of a badly disguised power game.

Also, when you move or taste, it is obvious that ego is not only thoughts.
Often times the ego seems to be the organised construct of how inner and outer meet. When you are in an ego that is joyful and making fun, the world seems different from when you are reading a history book.

So, in my view, ego is part of the game of life. Nothing is just ego, just like nothing is just a meal.

Matthew

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Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 09:58:28 PM »
lokariototal,

What exactly IS the ego?

Without playing semantic games there is more than one answer to this question. It depends on the social and cultural context in which you ask and in which the answer is given. Within western/modern psychology the ego is a lesser thing than in Buddhist thought and psychology. The ego is a nothing, a fiction within the context of Buddhist teachings, thought and experience - yet it is a powerful and much deeper fiction than that ascribed by 'western' thought. Within western traditions it is largely what you describe below:

Correct me if im wrong, but I think of the ego as the mental construct we have of ourselves, and our lives. For example, my name is such and such, I consider myself to be bla bla, I like bla bla, and my past is such and such.

This to me is the ego. It's just a bunch of thoughts that make who we think we are.

As above in 'western' traditions this is true. In Buddhist psychological understanding it runs deeper than this. The ego is this and more: the collection of conscious and unconscious processes of form, feeling, perception, thought and consciousness that make up the sense of 'I, me and mine'.

These are described in the Skandha teachings. And particularly it is important to understand two important aspects:

Firstly the meaning of Skandhda: heap, pile or collection: our existence, experience and conditioning builds these 'heaps' or collections of habitual ways of perceiving, conceiving and thinking about the world. Like a pile of wood, the ones on top are dependent on the ones below. So it is with these aspects of ego: habit piles on top of habit, such that we are barely aware of the root of the 'story of self' you call the ego. There are many unexamined habits underlying that which emerges into consciousness as the story you tell yourself about who you are: herein lies a fundamental difference culturally, Buddhist 'ego' includes a vast amount of subconscious material and processes, and perhaps even genetically coded predilections.

Like a big game of Jenga, it's no use taking a piece off the top and thinking you've 'done it'. You have to let the whole stack fall by pulling out the foundations, the roots: the stories which have accumulated subconsciously to make the conscious story spring to mind/awareness.

Secondly how do you do this? Through mindfulness, awareness, vipassana, introspection: putting yourself under the microscope, dissecting yourself through bare attention.

And in this process, particularly noticing it is not the habits themselves which make up the ego but the habits in conjunction with attachment to the habits and stories.

This is where what Quardamon writes becomes clear: in different situations we will attach to those pieces in the puzzle/pile which seem most relevant, and thus our ego will manifest differently when we are rowing, chatting with friends, listening to Beethoven or whatever ... The ego constantly reinvents itself from this great pile of possibilities to suit it's environment.

Am I right?

No, but you're not wrong, merely missing some pieces of the puzzle :)

Warmly,

Matthew
« Last Edit: September 10, 2013, 10:07:59 PM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

redalert

Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 02:13:29 AM »
A mirror.

lokariototal

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Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 07:11:16 AM »
In Buddhist psychological understanding it runs deeper than this. The ego is this and more: the collection of conscious and unconscious processes of form, feeling, perception, thought and consciousness that make up the sense of 'I, me and mine'.


And why is this considered an illusion again? And by this I mean the ego. Why is the ego seen as so "illusory" or "non-existent" in eastern traditions?

Matthew

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Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2013, 11:22:26 AM »

And why is this considered an illusion again? And by this I mean the ego. Why is the ego seen as so "illusory" or "non-existent" in eastern traditions?

A good question and again the answer is somewhat dependent on semantics or the meaning  of words. The ego is illusory in the sense that it presents itself to the conscious mind as who you are, something solid, something inherently real.

You do not even have to go deeply into meditation to see that this is a fiction, a fabrication or plain untrue: the examples above of how the ego picks bits of stuff relevant to circumstance and manifests differently show the inherent non-solidity, non self-existing nature of ego. You are not the same person when talking with a hurt child, arguing with a co-worker or talking with a Police officer who has pulled you off the road because a light has failed on your car. Nor when you relax listening to music or become deeply engaged in making art.

Yet if you do go deeply into meditation and as your mind slows you can start to see the impermanence and the arising of ego. You can see the pieces of the puzzle. Deeper still and you can start to cut the roots of these habitual pieces of self so they no longer arise at all, but firstly by recognising them for what they are and refusing to attach to the story.

The ego is a real phenomena, it's just not who you are nor what it says 'on the can'.

Kindly,

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

Shikoba

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Re: What exactly IS the ego?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2013, 07:25:50 AM »
Ego refers to your personality and how you feel about yourself. for instance, when someone says you have an alter ego, that means they think you have two different personalities.

 

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