Understanding Ego

The difference between you and your ego is your ego doesn’t bleed. Your ego doesn’t know that it doesn’t bleed. If you cut your finger, your ego thinks, oh no, I’m bleeding. That is how closely your ego identifies itself with you. How closely you identify with your ego determines the quality of your suffering.

When you develop an understanding of ego, you can also gain some understanding for ego. To develop this understanding go on an ego watch. Your ego is always with you, so it is always available to see. It pretends that it is you, so one way to spot your ego is to look in the mirror. When you see yourself in the mirror that is just your image. Your ego will show itself by offering opinions about the image, good or bad. If you are watching for ego, you can acknowledge those opinions and let them pass. If you are not watching for ego those opinions will settle into the core of your being and be added to a long list of unexamined truths about yourself. That list, quietly, subversively compiled by your ego, determines how you suffer.

In understanding ego, it is not helpful to vilify your ego. Although your ego actively contributes to your suffering, it is also your ego that suffers for you. If you see your ego as an evil entity, you will experience a great sense of justice, because your ego is constantly and immediately punished by each bit of suffering it creates in you. Unfortunately, you cannot enjoy that sense of justice, because as your ego suffers, you suffer. When you see that your ego is suffering for you and as you, then you find some compassion for your ego. Noticing  how your ego suffers is part of watching for ego. If you notice yourself suffering, you can look into that suffering and see your ego.

You can also watch for your ego in your pride. If you notice yourself seeking confirmation for your worth in external circumstances, that is your ego building its house of cards. As circumstances change and the cards fall, your imagined worth will be gone. Your worth will still be there, but your ego’s definition of your worth will be lost and it will suffer, so you will suffer. You are totally worthy, but you suffer from lack of worth.

When you become adept at observing your ego, you will understand that you are both separate and inseparable from your ego. You can observe your ego through your thoughts, opinions, judgements, feelings, pride, shame, suffering, and joy. When you understand your ego, you can’t help but admire and appreciate it, because it is going through the trenches for you. If you begin to bleed, your ego will help get you a bandaid. It too has compassion.

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