The Illusions of the Ego
All that is Required to be Free of the Ego is to Become Aware of It
The Out of Control Ego
We have all said things like:
My God the ego on that guy! or He is so egotistical! or She needs to check her ego at the door!
We have all met people with very large egos; and by that we mean they are largely obsessed with themselves, to the point that anyone and everyone else in their orbit becomes insignificant. This particular human dysfunction has become so prevalent we now have several diagnosable mental disorders associated with out of control egoism: narcism, sociopathy and psychopathy.
We’ve been creating problematic structures (for the past 2000 year at least) that encourage ego inflation to the point of insanity. And it has gotten so bad that the entire collective human consciousness is riddled with bouts of ego insanity.
Egos everywhere are out of control. What to do? We acknowledge it.
We all have egos. There is just no denying that. At first, it is hard to survive in this world without one. But then…most of us take it too far. None of us is safe from heavy egoic identification; and that is unfortunate because identification with the ego promises nothing but pain and grief and suffering.
I his bestseller A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle makes the pain brought down by the ego, quite visceral and tangible by his description of a “pain body.” The ego and the pain body are parters in crime, and the crime is bringing endless and unceasing pain and misery to humans all over the globe.
But how? How do the ego and the pain body even manage this? Technically, neither one of these abstractions is even real, at least not if by real one means tangible or physical. Both abstractions occupy the realm of thought and feeling. Let’s start with the almost tangible pain body. Tolle describes a pain body as such:
The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.
Tolle contends there is an actual energy field inside of all our bodies, and this energy even lives inside of (and off of) our cells. This is the pain body. He also contends that the pain body is not simply an individual phenomenon, but also channels the collective pain of entire groups of folk, who have experienced pain over of all of time.
The pain body, however is not just individual in nature. It also partakes of the pain suffered by countless humans throughout history of humanity which is a history of continuous tribal warfare, of enslavement, pillage, rape torture and other forms of violence.
Oh boy. Nobody wants any of that…or do we? A survey of our national landscape will clearly show that here in America, we are still to this day, struggling with the pain of tribal warfare, enslavement, pillage, rape torture and other forms of violence. The times, the methods and means of delivery have changed, but the activity has not.
Our participation in these painful activities, however, is a choice. And I am well aware that it doesn’t look like or seem like a choice — but it is. Being in this kind of pain is not a choice that you have to make, you can vibrate out of it. But vibrating out requires a disconnect from the ego.
This work is hard! I should know. I have been at this work for sixteen years in my studies with A Course in Miracles (ACIM). ACIM is a very dense spiritual text, that is also a course, very difficult to intellectually understand, but it works! One of the primary lessons of ACIM, is to teach you how to disconnect from the ego, and the illusory world that it creates for you, which ACIM, repeatedly insists that you do not want.
The Pain of the Ego and its Illusory Mad World
It’s true. You do not want the Ego’s world. It is pretty much the horroriffic world all of us see blasted on the news and the media 24/7. This illusory world spills out all around us, because so many people we know buy into it and give energy to this illusory world. It’s a mad world. You do not want it.
I credit my study of ACIM with so much of the positive growth that I have encountered in my life, and yet, no matter how much I study, I still find myself drawn into the realm of the ego, ad the horroriffic illusory world it has created. This is how the pain body gets activated.
So what exactly is this ego? Well it depends on who you ask. The ego gets defined in a lot of different ways, but most often what most people mean when referencing the ego is an extremely selfish, or self-absorbed person. But what is really going on when someone is like that (and let’s be honest at times we all are like that.) The person is disconnected from their authentic spiritual self, which is to say disconnected from God.
Almost all human troubles begin here — with the disconnect from the true spiritual self, from God. This disconnect — the idea that we are separate from God, and everyone and everything, is an illusion. But, as Einstein once said, it is a very persistent one.
It is an illusion the ego absolutely loves. It is only in the mad world that an ego can feel truly at home. Therefore, becoming aware of the unreality of the ego, is the only way to escape from this nightmare illusion; and overriding this illusion is the way to peace. Peace is what ACIM promises to deliver. You can have it. ACIM does deliver, but it takes a tremendous amount of mental practice and work. There are short cuts, if you can catch them. Tolle provides a shortcut, primarily through offering you an introduction into mindfulness, in his bestsellers; The Power of Now and A New Earth.
Mindfulness — A Shortcut
How does one become mindful? Much has bee said about this concept, which is very simple, to the point of being plain hard. Mainly, you just have to stop thinking. Some people do this through the practice of meditation, but mindfulness does’t have to be accessed through meditation. To be mindful, you mainly have to stop thinking and start being. No really. Just stop. Stop, stop, stop thinking about the mad world and all the separation in it. These thoughts feed the ego, and all the illusions the ego has created. It also feeds all the pain bodies rapped up in the illusion.
You can stop thinking by starting to breath. Take deep breaths, very deep breaths; and in doing so, imagine that you are establishing a connection to your deeper spiritual self, through your breath. Focus on the enjoyment of the senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, sound. Be with that. Be present in the moment. Escape the world of thoughts and feelings. The ego sets endless traps in that world.
I will give you an example. I like most individuals walk around in a body that has a lot of labels attached to it. I am a woman — and with that designation right there, according to Tolle there is a huge collective pain body, that I could tap into. Throughout history, women have bee raped, beaten, tortured, just generally done wrong for no real good reason. There is a collective male ego insanity behind all of this, that has gone on for centuries, if not millennia. On any give day, I could choose to tap into the pain of that; and I would do it almost unconsciously. There is a collect unconsciousess around egoic gender insanity.
Not only that, but I am a race. I am an African-American. This means in the realm of egoic thought, I am a racial loser. I am an actual descendent of slaves in a country, that built itself up out of an inhumane and diabolical institution of slavery. This institution maintained itself by solidifying a mad egoic belief that all black Americas were so much less than, all other Americas that they were to be treated, as things, to be bought and sold, raped, beaten, tortured and murdered. Inside of the institution of slavery, there was unimaginable misery and suffering; and this has impacted every American.
The foundation of American economic prosperity rested on the labor of four to five million black slaves. I fact, the suffering inflicted on the Native and Black Americas has not remained confined to those two races, but has become a part of the America pain body. It is always the case that both victim ad perpetrator suffer the consequences of ay acts of violence, oppression, or brutality.
Now if I, in my American, black female body, start to think about any of this (whether I do it consciously or semi-consciously), I will likely go down an ego-pain body rabbit hole, where negative thoughts lead to negative feelings, which the create more negative thoughts. It is a vicious egoic cycle.
Pain begins in the psychological place of thought: Did you see how he looked at me? So dismissively? Did you hear him call me crazy, when I explained, very reasonably, what the problem was.(It’s him, by the way, he is the fucking problem!)
All of these thoughts are going to cause pain. The pain comes from the psychological discomfort of entertaining of the idea that I am less than, in some way. (That is the Ego for you. The Ego is always going to bring forward thoughts that you are less than or inadequate in some way.
Egoic thinking has become so prevalent in our society, there are nearly an infinite number of belief systems and thought systems wholly dedicated to making someone believe that they are less than or inadequate in some way. This thinking does not restrict itself to race or gender. Almost all the major religions are dedicated to having its followers invested in this concept. The sinner must always be repenting. What a perfect way to keep worshipers forever on the hook.
American capitalism is entirely built on the premise that you, the consumer are less than, but can easily become more, as long as you buy, this car, this ring, this house…always something to buy, that is going to make you feel more.
The problem is it never works…at least not for very long. And the more you chase that stuff the more lost you become in the world of ego which is a miserable isolating world, where there is no God, no connection, or nothing of any real value. Just negative thoughts and beliefs and feelings and stuff. The Ego’s mad world is empty.
Egoic victories are fleeting. Egoic demands for more are unceasing. You will never be enough in the eyes of your own ego, or anyone elses.
Awaken to Awareness
You can get off the ego crazy train — trust it goes nowhere. Get hip to the Ego’s game. Become aware of all the thought traps the ego sets. When an egoic thought comes into your awareness, stop it. You can even say something to the effect of:
Oh no ego! I am not playing this game with you! Not today!
To do this, though, you have to become aware of the structure of egoic thought. Generally these thoughts run along these lies:
I am less than.
He/she or it is less than.
I must attack him for being less than.
I must attack her because she said, she implied, she felt that I was less than.
I don’t have enough.
I am not enough. I will never be, do or have enough.
There are endless variations on the above themes. The Ego of course knows them all and will throw them all at you. You have to become aware of your egoic scripts in order to stop them, but once you do that, you can easily escape the egos mad world. Entry and exit to and from the mad ego world happens based on your thoughts.
It sounds crazy, but it’s really true. Sixteen year of study of ACIM taught me this the hard way. The practice of mindfulness, sped my learning up, exponentially.
An easy way to know if your ego is present and causing you mental pain? The ego defends and attacks. Your true authentic spiritual self does none of this. It doesn’t need to. It just is. The authentic spiritual self is a perfect connected being, always shining beneath the mental constructs of the ego and the emotional and energetic constructs of the pain body. The authentic self always feels whole and at peace.
What do you need to do to connect to this authentic spiritual self? Stop thinking. The ego’s realm consists entirely of thought - negative and fearful ones. It is very easy to get lost in the egos negative and destructive thought systems because they are nearly infinite in number; and they are traps designed to keep you in the egoic realm.
Once those thought traps activate, they bring about negative emotions and the pain body gets activated, next the the pain body becomes the thinker. You do not want this to happen! Tolle explains:
Emotion from the pain body quickly gain control of your thinking, and once your mind has been take over by the pain body, your thinking becomes negative. The voice in your head (ego) will be telling sad, anxious or angry stories about yourself or your life, about other people, about the past, future or imaginary events. The voice will be blaming, accusing, complaining, imagining…at that point the addiction to unhappiness has set in.
But good news: this all stops once you begin to recognize the thought traps. It’s not that hard to do this, you just have to develop an awareness of the egos tricks! For example, the other day, I got a parking ticket. My ego chimes in immediately:
Here they go again! The second one in less than a month! They are targeting me! And it’s because I am black! It’s because I am a woman! It’s because they think I am less than! They think I am the mule of the world! They think they can treat me any kind of way! Well! I will show them!
I started to go there…even though I know better! (I’ve been studying ACIM for 16 years!) But instead of doing that, I stopped these thoughts. I said to myself: Nope. Not going there.…
Sometimes it is hard not go there because these negative scripts often run at a barely perceptible level. But once we perceive them, we must stop them. A surefire way to know if you are running a negative script in the background programming of your mind, is to check how you feel. Do you feel bad? Sad? Angry? Anxious? Trust. Negative scripts are running, I promise you that. ACIM explains:
If you do distort reality, you will experience anxiety, depression ad ultimately panic. You are trying to make yourself unreal.
ACIM provides a very in depth and multi-layered exploration of the ego and its tricks. ACIM explains, over and over again, that the illusory world the ego has created (the world we all see, with all its pain, misery and madness) is not real. It is an illusion. When you play around with the Ego, you are playing a pointless, ridiculous game. It is one where you are basically trying to turn yourself into an illusion!
Breath. Bring your true authentic self to observe the egos traps and illusions and wake up!