What is Ego?
Actualizado: 6 jul 2018
What you call “you” is ego.
Everything you think as you is ego.
You can’t stop your thoughts
Sit down and observe your thoughts. If you observe your thoughts in real time as they arise, what you notice is that you can’t stop your thoughts, not for even thirty seconds. Your mind is always running from one thought to another.
The statement “I think” implies that there is a choice involved on your part. For most people, this is not yet the case. “I think” is just a false statement as “I digest” or “I circulate my blood”. Digestion happens, circulation happens, thinking happens. Thinking happens to you.
If you go deeper you will notice that you don’t even know what your next thought is going to be. You don’t know what is coming next in your mind. You think you know but you don't really know. So you don’t really control your thoughts. Thoughts appear out of literally nowhere. You don’t create them, they happen to you. Most of the thoughts are created by external stimulus and association..
The voice in the head has a life of its own and you take the thinker to be who you are. Ego, you, are a conglomeration of recurring thoughts and emotions that are invested with a sense of I, a sense of self. The ego can be defined as the phycological center of who you think you are as someone in the body.
Self realization is the practice of self inquiry for a direct experience of self. Asking yourself, “Who am I?” is a good example of this practice.
Self-realization is the discovery for yourself, and only by yourself, that there is no self to discover. There is no self to realize. Nothing. That’s the discovery. You cannot find the self. The self, what we call “me”, is merely a collection of thoughts and memories without substance beyond that. That’s a huge and direct realization that hits you like a thunderbolt.
You, the ego, what you call “me”, the self, is just an illusion. It doesn’t really exist. The self is not a physical entity. The “I” is a tight contracted energy giving us the sense of separation. There is nothing there inside you other than the ego, the fictional character that we pretend to know because the truth is that you have no idea of who you are. You can’t describe who you are.
I don’t know who I am
I’m in a astounding lucid confusion
That’s the state of love.
- Rumi -
So, Why can't we see our true self? We can’t see our true self because it is "not there". There is no true self to perceive -there is only this false self and no-self. One looks for true self and finds nothing, as if one’s true self was no truth at all.
“That which rises in this body as ‘I’
is the mind”
- Ramana Maharshi -
But Why we create a false self? If you don’t have a direct experience of your true nature then you are forced to create, project and constantly maintain a false image, a fictional self that is “you”. How could it be otherwise?
You need to compensate for the lack of direct experience of the nature of reality so you spend your life force projecting a fictional character, an external representation of yourself that is always a work in progress, always shifting and evolving. In a deeper sense, ego is a momentary misidentification with the present moment, a lack of direct experience of the nature of reality.
The false self cannot be perceived directly, but only by the reflection it casts in the eyes of others. Humans connect ego-to-ego. We spend our lives and our life-force cultivating and grooming our appearance in the eyes of the others. That’s how we know who we are. That’s where we find reassurance that we are real and not just hollow dream characters. That’s how the illusion is constantly maintained.
The appearance of choice and the amazing body-mind mechanism
Your actions and behaviors are not control by you because there is no you inside. There are a lot of subsystems within your body-mind mechanism that simultaneously are triggering the action and the arising of the thought. You are not the one who is causing the action, you are something that is also a thought that is arising. So you yourself are a thought. You are not a physical thing, you are a thought.
But who is deciding between an apple or a banana? Not you, you are not making that decision. The brain-body mechanism is extraordinary complex and amazing. The brain-body mechanism is not a dum vessel that we, the “me” abide. The brain-body mechanism is a distributive system, not a centralized system. There is no one thing inside that we can point and call “you”, instead is all the parts of the brain-body mechanism, around thirty trillions cells in the body on average. Every single cell in the mechanism take part in the decision, plus every single part in the universe since we are interconnected and influenced with all around us.
Your life history, past experiences with apples and bananas, your cultural background, your DNA inherited from your parents, taste preferences, healthy perspectives and beliefs in the mind, teachers advices, past memories, your parents and siblings… All of this is coming into play.
Based on all that, the mind then constructs its preferences and it then make decisions. The mind is able to process amazing quantities of information and you are not conscious of 99.9% of any of it. You not only do not control it but you don’t even have awareness of it. Many things are happening within your body without a single input from you.
The body-mind mechanism can do intelligent things without the need of “you” to decide between the apple or the banana. Could that be possible?
When you take a decision, it appears that you are choosing but what actually is happening is that a thought is arising at the same time, and the thought claims control over the decision. That’s how the illusion is created. What you are, the thing we call “you”, this ego, is not a contribution to the body-mind distributive system, in reality it is an exit from the system with the appearance of control.
Finally, you are what you seem to choose to believe about yourself. There is no need to define yourself, but however you choose to define yourself will be the interpretation you will hold about your false self.
Choose to believe whatever brings you happiness and peace, and enjoy the ride. Remember, ...life is but a dream.
Recommended article: There is No Need to Define Yourselves