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The All Mighty Ego

There has been talk over time on this site about the ego, some people commenting about ego death, some suggesting that the Buddha did not teach the death of the ego but to be aware of it, and a lot of other stuff in between.

So lets talk about this thing the ego, lets delve into it deeply and get down to where the Buddha was trying to lead us.

The ego, it is something I assume everybody has and it is in my opinion the cause of all suffering on every level. It is the cause of war, of drug abuse, of stealing, murder etc etc etc. The levels of suffering can be gross or minor, either way it is suffering. The Buddha taught that there was suffering and that there is an end to suffering, so what do we do with this thing known as the ego? How many of you practitioners can say that if you see something bad about yourself written on the internet, that you do not become sad or angry? Is it wrong if you do? Do you like to improve your self image, is this a result of an ego? Is this wrong?

As you can see I consider this business surrounding the ego not something to be taken lightly, I think it is a fundamental source of much suffering the world, so we all need to learn what it exactly is and how to deal with it.

Discuss..

Comments

  • Well I think what defines it for us is other people..directly and indirectly.

    Completely self defining our ego, or 'persona'...what would that even look like? Unfathomable!
    Wisdom23
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    I think that, for the most part, much of what we do is ego-driven. Discussing our likes/dislikes, our opinions, trying to seem interesting to other people, even trying to be a "good" person can stem from the ego.

    Through diligent Buddhist practice (or other spiritual practices even), I think one should be able to recognize more easily what is driven by ego and what is more pure. I don't think anything can be 100% pure ego-less action, though we can definitely try.
  • oceancaldera207oceancaldera207 Veteran
    edited September 2013
    But I mean ego or 'self' is what we use to communicate with each other isnt it? And if so, how can we really call it a bad thing? I always felt uncomfortable with the idea that we should somehow rid ourselves of it.
    I always saw the buddha as having perfected his ego, by controlling it and making it have a pure moral basis. But that doesnt sound right...

    Idk. It really really depends on the definition...because a lot if people take the word to mean something totally negative like 'selfishness'
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran
    @oceancaldera207 - I'm not sure if you're responding to my post, but I never really said anything about ridding oneself of the... well... self/ego. I more or less said what you're saying - everything we do is ego-driven to some extent. A Buddhist practice can help us see what ego-driven parts are helpful and what parts aren't.
  • The ego could be pride. Or it could be self-cherishing. But on the last it is tricky because we should be a kind friend to ourself. It's just the grasping coming from the cherishing that trips us up.
  • No I wasn't. Just musing is all. Rhetorical statements etc.
  • My ego is bigger than your ego. :p
  • poptart said:

    My ego is bigger than your ego. :p

    Now wouldn't a Buddhist take that as a compliment? ;)

    mfranzdorf
  • AllbuddhaBoundAllbuddhaBound Veteran
    edited September 2013
    I believe the ego causes suffering when it is the basis for comparison. When we begin comparing ourselves with others, when we become self-righteous, when we elevate ourselves above others in our mind, when we come to believe our desires or interests come first, it directs us in clinging, grasping ways that cause suffering.

    But this does not mean we need to abandon I either. Although caring about I may be described as being selfish by some, nothing could be further from the truth. Compassion for I, equal to your compassion for others, elevates a person to an equality that would be the antithesis of being ego driven.

    In a way, by treating all equal including I, the result is no self.
    ThailandTom
  • the almighty ego...that until now im trying so hard to bring down. altho i admit that often times i still snap.
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited September 2013

    There has been talk over time on this site about the ego, some people commenting about ego death, some suggesting that the Buddha did not teach the death of the ego but to be aware of it, and a lot of other stuff in between.

    So lets talk about this thing the ego, lets delve into it deeply and get down to where the Buddha was trying to lead us.

    The ego, it is something I assume everybody has and it is in my opinion the cause of all suffering on every level. It is the cause of war, of drug abuse, of stealing, murder etc etc etc. The levels of suffering can be gross or minor, either way it is suffering.

    I hope you don't mind me answering this in sections... It is easier for me to digest and think about if I go point by point and break it down. That's duality for you. That's duality for all of us and without duality, there would be no independent self. Let's think about that for a minute here... One all encompassing view or no view at all.

    The ego has been growing or evolving for long before humans came on the scene. Birds and other mammals were already nurturing their young and fighting for mates, food and territory. As the brain evolved, so did lifes ability to become intelligent... That is to make use of the intelligence already there. Not only were we now individuals, we were aware of it. We humans had become self aware and this is where we developed the disease of us and "them". This disease is what is to blame for war, drug abuse, stealing, murder and all other crimes we commit against ourselves.

    If the brain had not developed at all, there would be no distinction between things or events. There would be no duality. A blade of grass is the universe. No brain, no pain.

    It isn't duality that is the problem, it is not seeing that it is an illusory tool that is the problem... We saw the individual self as something real that we can keep separate from the rest instead of a means of investigation and experience.
    The Buddha taught that there was suffering and that there is an end to suffering, so what do we do with this thing known as the ego?
    There is a quote attributed to Einstein that sums it up nicely. Nobody knows where the quote really came from but it is something I agree with wholeheartedly (as my name here can attest)

    "A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
    How many of you practitioners can say that if you see something bad about yourself written on the internet, that you do not become sad or angry? Is it wrong if you do? Do you like to improve your self image, is this a result of an ego? Is this wrong?
    I don't think recognition of harm is wrong but most of us (myself) included could probably learn to deal with it better. Yes, it is the result of ego but then so is building hospitals. Only by being separate can we work together from different perspectives and learn about the whole.
    As you can see I consider this business surrounding the ego not something to be taken lightly, I think it is a fundamental source of much suffering the world, so we all need to learn what it exactly is and how to deal with it.
    For one thing, instead of fighting it and seeing it as something bad, I think we should nurture every single one so it is easier to see us.

    The more of us that wake up to some kind of union, the better chances are that food, water, shelter and education will become basic rights for all individuals. Everybody is good at something we can all benefit from and every person denied is another discarded piece of the ever-expanding puzzle sucked up by the vacuum cleaner of potential.

  • We have a personal mandala which is how we go about our lives. Then we have a practice mandala. The central mandala of the universe is awareness mandala.

    Buddha had to have a strong personal mandala both in his teaching years and before that when he was able to work so hard at meditation.

    Strengthening the personal mandala, we can see from Buddha, can help us
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    How are you defining mandala?

    I thought a mandala was a ritualistic symbol.
  • It's like a circle with a value at the center. Everything is a mandala. Someones body is a mandala and it gets things done such as homeostasis, pumping blood, or having skin.

    Political and social mandalas also involve core principles.

    In my post the personal mandala is like our 'lives'. This is made up of our attitudes. There are mandala guardians that notice when something isn't as we desire. There are also gates. All of the sudden in meditation a gate opens to when you were 10 years old. And then you go back to the breath. In meditation as you always come back to the wide open expanse of the sensation of the breath as you return more and more your concentration and calm (shamata) becomes greater. Same with coming back to that memory of 10 years old if you come back and back that will strengthen.

    The awareness mandala is the openness, clarity, and sensitivity of consciousness.

    So defeating the ego is just to return again and again to the practice mandala which includes meditation which is where we can look for openness, clarity, and sensitivity without being distracted by memories, regret, doubt, aversion, craving, etc..

    This forum has a mandala. When someone is misbehaving they are not following the core principles of the forum and mandala guardians come in the form of us. When someone is on the fence of the mandala, for example they cannot decide if they are Christian or Buddhist they might have some emotionality owing to that. Or maybe not if they have found positive ways of exchanging energy with both Christian and Buddhist environments and ways of thinking.

    So guardians, gates. Then there are messengers which tell you when something outside the mandala is getting in. There can be hostile takeovers of the values at the center.

    Here is an example. A woman charges a man for sexual harassment at work. The result a lot of time is that the whole organization expels the woman from the work rather than the harasser. Gloria Steinhem (I think) said that most woman who blow the whistle on sexual harassment end up worse off somehow in the organization.

    Finally we exchange energy. We go to church or we do group meditation. You interview with the guru.

    For a sangha and other organizations the center of the mandala experiences the most stress. Which is why the further people have to be calm and non-demanding or else the center will fall apart like a wheel.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Hmmmmmmm.
  • According to some zafu gossip,

    the ego is simply a word to describe our denial of attachments true consequences.
    Perhaps describing the Skandhas adversarial response that posits dreams of self verses other, to maintain a sleepers illusory delineation from everything else.

    Of course that just sounds like ignorance in a new dress!

    The Ego or identity is nothing other than the body of our own attachments and

    from my zafu, the 4 NT already have that clearly covered.
  • Reading Eckart Tolle's book "A New Earth" aided me in recognizing what was ego-driven and what was not. The ego is sneaky and not always recognizable.
  • If it can be recognised, it tends to be the ego . . . now that sure is sneaky . . . :wave:
  • How much of the self contains ego and vice versa? I think the ego can be thought of as food. It can nourish, but it can also do some damage if we're not careful. Like when we eat too much of it, or eat the wrong things, we can become overweight or get sick. There are some who just love food way too much, just the same as those who are narcissist and love themselves too much. The ego is not a bad thing to have if you keep it at bay. If you're not careful, it can be the source of your suffering.
  • Perhaps describing the Skandhas adversarial response that posits dreams of self versus other, to maintain a sleepers illusory delineation from everything else.

    Of course that just sounds like ignorance in a new dress!
    A new dress? Is it pretty? Like a toga? Like a sari? Robes?

    So little time, so many outfits . . . :crazy:

    In Tibet the highest yogis, apart from the rainbow bodied, wear a black cloak but underneath are naked mountain yogis . . . .

    How do we get rid of our scandalous skandha fashion attachment? How in a sense do we become the naked self?

    Do we use make up? Fancy dress? From a Zennith dress code, the answer is no. Formal attire is strictly minimal. Quite naturally the play factor falls away . . . and shows the hat wearing ego its frivolous nature.

    What I 'need' is something with a feather to tickle the brain . . .

    :vimp:
  • The Ego is a wierd thing that i can't quite understand but i have been able to utilised it. i decided not to long ago to quit what i call ' the ego rat race ' that is trying to be the best xxxx, usually this is the thing that everyone else is trying to be the best at i.e intelligent, hip , trendy, sexy and successful etc. This has brought two benefits, i feel i have become more authentic and true to myself which oddly enough is rather witty and full of bliss. I also take note of the ' If the Bhikku Desires' sutta and i am trying to train my ego to be the best fiance, best Teaching Assistand and Dog owner etc and to fill myself with so much joy that i burst and splash everyone with my happiness, metaphorically speaki.g obc. i have been seeing this in action this academic year and the feeling is rather nice.

    I hope my blabbering makes sense and offers someone something.

    All the best peeps.
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