On Episode 7 of the Maker/Mistaker Podcast, George and I discuss “The Ego” and it’s cousin, the mind. What is the ego? What does it mean to be egotistical? Is the ego really the source of our suffering? Is the ego bad or good and should we get rid of it?
I admit, this episode was a little difficult for both of us. George and I aren’t experts. We are both seekers of truth and self mastery. We both recognize that a topic that comes up a lot in meditation is the ego.
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It was only a few weeks after my first meditation attempt that I began reading about the ego. If you ever listened to Eckhart Tolle, he talks a LOT about the ego, the mind, and our thoughts. And often how they are the cause for all the suffering we feel. So it would make sense to eliminate the ego right?
Well, not so fast. As I mention in the podcast, the ego is meant to keep us safe. But how?
My understanding, and yes, it’s limited so bear with me, is that our ego is this false self. It’s an identity or sense of who we are. We also attach ideas, concepts, and things to our sense of self. For example, we might associate ourselves with a particular political party, race, gender, class, religion, or sports team. Sometimes those external attachments are held so close to our sense of who we are, that if our attachment (let’s use our favorite sports team as an example) gets attacked, we feel attacked. But we actually weren’t attacked at all.
The ego is an illusion. It’s a false sense of self. So what is our true self if not our personality or this identity? That’s a big question. You see, throughout most of our life, we are trying to “find” ourselves by trying on different personalities. We go through high school and notice there are preps, jocks, nerds, goths, punks, skaters, stoners, etc. Heck, we may have even been all of them at one point. We lose those identities as we get older and we take on roles like husband, wife, mother, father – or at work we are the manager, the sales person, the CEO. Or maybe we try to create an identity around the possessions we have, or our achievements.
What did you write in your Twitter bio? That’s usually associated with ego – our sense of self. The kind of self we present to the world. And it’s always changing.
So again, who are we really?
There is an authentic self deep within. And it’s often the goal of many spiritual practices. How do we find it? Meditation is a good way for people to tap into their true self behind all the layers of ego identity. The one that’s always been there no matter what kind of personality you tried on. There’s always the YOU that has observed and noticed all of it. Typically, this “true self” is defined as the silent observer of our thoughts. The one that is aware.
Strip away all your belongings and everything you associate with you. But you still exist right? Strip away your arms and legs. Do you still exist? Get rid of all the layers of the onion until there’s nothing left to get rid of. This is the zero point field where the only thing left is the your true self.
Answer this question, “I am…”
When you run out of answers, just say the words, “I am…” That’s you.
Alright so this has gone a little further than I wanted to go for this post. I know I’m rambling. Check out our podcast episode for even more rambling on ego. This is just conversation, so just take our words with a grain of salt!
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- 00:00:30 Introductions and Updates
- 00:02:00 Jeff’s gonna sleep in a treehouse this weekend
- 00:03:50 Jeff’s new book Wake Up will be out April 14th
- 00:05:00 What is the ego? False definitions of ego
- 00:09:00 Alan Watts definition of ego – an illusion
- 00:10:00 Ego is the self, identity, that you mold over time
- 00:11:25 Noting in meditation
- 00:12:50 Paranoid radar system in your head
- 00:14:20 The ego’s ultimate purpose, to keep us alive on Earth
- 00:16:20 Who ARE you? Not your Twitter bio!
- 00:18:20 Is the ego is an illusion, it’s not “real”
- 00:20:45 Where does MIND or thinking fit in?
- 00:22:09 You don’t have to agree with your thoughts
- 00:25:00 The hitchhiker you don’t have to listen to
- 00:28:00 Are your thoughts your own? Choosing your thoughts
- 00:30:00 Advertising, propaganda, The Century of the Self
- 00:31:30 Associating your identity with things and brands
- 00:35:30 Creating external dependency on other people
- 00:36:10 Talking about The Century of the Self
- 00:39:00 Why George returned the iPhone 6 after buying it
- 00:42:55 The realization that inspired George to quit smoking
- 00:43:50 Ego/Mind is easy to manipulate
- 00:44:24 Jeff’s perspective on ego and the purpose of duality
- 00:47:00 Belief vs direct experience
- 00:52:00 George had direct experience of lucid dreaming
- 00:54:45 Yoga lecture guys were crazy talk!
- 00:57:30 Discernment, how to know what to believe
- 01:01:24 Belief and ego and attachment
- 01:03:40 How our truth and beliefs changes over time
- 01:05:00 Changing your thoughts to sculpt your reality
- 01:06:30 Bringing the discussion it back to Earth
- 01:07:00 We reach the end of our thoughts
- 01:09:00 What can I actually do instead of hypothesizing?
- 01:09:45 Putting your own oxygen mask on first
- 01:10:30 Running out of things to say, we don’t know much do we?
- 01:12:14 What can listeners do to learn more about the ego?
- 01:14:30 Ending
LINKS AND RESOURCES FOR ego/mind:
- Old Pine Treehouse
- Alan Watts’s “The Mind”
- Mental Noting meditation
- I Am Spirituality attachment map
- True Self / False Self
- Nerdist Way
- The Century of the Self documentary
- Ego/Mind exercise
- Robert Anton Wilson: Cosmic Trigger book
- Eckhart Tolle on Ego
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