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Don't get rid of your ego

http://www.tricycle.com/dharma-talk/hang-your-ego

Years back, many Buddhist teachers in the West began using the term “egolessness” to explain the Buddha’s teaching on not-self. Since then, egolessness has come to mean many things to many people. Sometimes egolessness is used to mean a lack of conceit or self-importance; sometimes, a pure mode of acting without thought of personal reward. In its most extended form, though, the teaching on egolessness posits a fundamental error of perception: that despite our sense of a lasting, separate self, no such self really exists. According to this view, to provide for the happiness of this illusory self, we not only place our hopes on an impossible goal but also harm ourselves and everyone around us. If we could only see the fallacy of the ego and understand its harmful effects, we would let it go and find true happiness in the interconnectedness that is our true nature.

(continued in link)
lobstercvalueshanyinanataman

Comments

  • howhow Veteran
    edited January 2014
    Much more interesting and balanced, in my opinion, are many of the responding comments that follow Thanissaro Bhikkhu's post in tricycle.

    IMO, the formulation of any definition of Egolessness, (like Enlightenment or Nirvana), is dross compared to a nano second of anyone's meditation.

    shanyin
  • Yes meditation is the basic practice, @how. I was wondering what you would say to this. Now I must look at the comments.
  • :clap:

    Many thanks. Seems like a plan. I liked the 'unbalanced' article and found this in the comments.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other-Centred_Therapy

    Wot you thought Buddhism was an escape pod from reality? Nah. Buddhism is a very real way to stop running from your problems ( the ego/mind/hindrances/karma ) and running with the very means to . . . where is it we are going again? Right here? There? Over the rainbow?

    :wave:
    shanyin
  • Looking at the comments @how, it is interesting how I can get enchanted (couldn't spell enamored) of disagreeing points of view.
  • howhow Veteran
    @Jeffrey
    I am not a big fan of certainty or comfort in a practice. Neither seem to be asked of me in meditation. That is what made one story connect more for me than another.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited January 2014
    @how, Are you saying the poster Thanissaro or whatever is in comfort in their view? I'm not sure I understand what you mean by certainty and comfort.

    But with regard to certainty was my first reaction to the OP article that ego-lessness also means groundlessness ie uncertainty.

    My teacher talks of ego sometimes but sometimes she says that ego-less is not even a word in Tibet. I am pretty confident that there could be some clarifying of what is meant by 'ego' from the 'powers that be'.

    As far as meditation.. even if we want comfort it's not always going to be that way!! right?
  • 'ego ' is a western construct that has no exact parallel with anything found in Dharma.
    If anyone doubts that try fitting the ego concept into the 'skandhas ' model '.
    lobsterThailandTom
  • Citta said:

    'ego ' is a western construct that has no exact parallel with anything found in Dharma.
    If anyone doubts that try fitting the ego concept into the 'skandhas ' model '.

    Isn't there some correlation with the fetters of self-view and conceit?
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an10/an10.013.than.html
  • There is some correlation, but the western concept of ego is about a noun. The Dharmic view that correlates is a verb. Or so its seems to me.
  • howhow Veteran

    Where one tradition, describes ego as that which identifies with or clings to an aggregate, another describes it as that which presents the aggregates as having an independent existence.

    Perhaps there will come a time in the events of man, where the claims of authentically naming or denying it's existence will aid ones step upon the path, but I say onto to you "today is not that day". Today we sit!
    DairyLamaperson
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    My ego provides me with too much entertainment for me to let it go just yet. The things it thinks and wants to do are always good for a laugh.
    poptart
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran
    I'm attempting to train my ego into being an effective executive secretary.

    My ego never did want to be the Boss, it just assumed it was and THAT my friends, was the beginning of terror. My ego felt cast upon a sea of chaos and old night. It struggled and fought and sought for something Greater to take charge (which led to a couple of decades of mistaken identity).

    Now . . . my problem with my ego (or whatever the Dharmic equivalent is) is it's spent the last almost 50 years protecting and avoiding and fearing. THIS is the 'ego' that so far is getting in the way of practice and Awakening. Trying to sooth and calm the poor beast on one hand, so that it will trust the letting go, while helping it define a new role for itself on the other hand -- that's the job at hand.

    I tell my ego it's not a demotion. It's a lateral transfer :) It will be doing what it was DESIGNED to do, albeit adapted to modern days and modern ways.

    Gassho :)
    poptartKundo
  • When we talk about merit, we are not talking about collecting something for your ego but about the basic twist of how to punish your ego. The logic is that you always want pleasure, but what you get is always pain. Why does that happen? It happens because the very act of seeking pleasure brings pain. You always get a bad deal--all the time. You get a bad deal because you started at the wrong end of the stick.
    ~Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
  • You need to find the balance as with everything. Have an ego. Don't become the ego.
    poptartseeingwhatisBuddhadragon
  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    @Jeffrey said:

    Not sure how this ties into the title of this thread, as getting rid of the ego entails the realization of the lack of ego to begin with. Thus it seems superfluous, even confusing to say "don't get rid of your ego". The ego does exist qua habitual illusion, it does take a cognitive change for it to be realized as never existing.

    Furthermore this is also not mentioning the ego-death in the context of the "inner recreation of the experience of death" which occurs during the bardo trances.

  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    @wangchuey said:
    You need to find the balance as with everything. Have an ego. Don't become the ego.

    That still entails duality and delusion.

  • @atiyana said:
    That still entails duality and delusion.

    Perhaps but not as deluded as trying to get rid of one"s ego.

    anatamanBuddhadragonKundo
  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    @wangchuey said:
    Perhaps but not as deluded as trying to get rid of one"s ego.

    Disagree. There is a difference between comprehension and realization. One can totally comprehend that "hey there isn't an ego-self, it is a Hume bundle that we are taking to have svabhava and call that "self"" and yet the habitual illusion of an ego self, a substantial self, persists. One could still act and react in the world as if it were something that it may comprehend to be otherwise. Which is why realization is extremely important. An optical illusion persists even when one knows/comprehends the facts about it, realization on the other hand is as if one has trained oneself out of experiencing/perceiving the illusion.

    Therefore "getting rid of one's ego" doesn't have to be deluded at all, because it may relate to the realization versus mere comprehension. It isn't deluded to recognize that one is indeed deluded in terms of lack-of-realization, that despite comprehension of its actual lack of existence, the illusion is persisting. Therefore getting rid of the ego is getting rid of the experienced illusion. Interestingly, in many cases, people think that some firm comprehension is enough, until more severe circumstances come up and they then react just as if they have the substantial ego-self. We hear cases of even advanced monks who mistake their conception of non-self for a total realization of it, and then experience the extremely intense bardo trances and realize how prevalent such a illusory illusion still was.

    With that said, I do find that "have an ego, don't become the ego" actually is far more deluded than seeking the cognitive shift that occurs during realization, which relates to perception/experience and not concepts. Your position seems to suggest that the persistence of experiential/perceptual delusion is okay. However, this is the delusion the Buddha speaks about getting rid of (that of undoing the experienced illusion), not merely conceptual elaboration.

    With all this said, how can you have something that never ever actually was? As Hume said, "the self is a fiction", why maintain it? There is no "balance" entailed with delusion, moderate delusion is still delusion and thus conditioned existence (samsara).

    lobsterJeffrey
  • @atiyana said:
    Your position seems to suggest that the persistence of experiential/perceptual delusion is okay.

    That was not what I meant at all.

    Sometimes you hear that the Buddha's teaching on not-self is a teaching on non-ego. This is actually a misunderstanding and it has two unfortunate consequences. The first is that, for those who like the idea of non-ego, it becomes an excuse for self-hatred and for the practice of spiritual bypassing. An example of spiritual bypassing is this: Suppose you have troubles in your life and you don't want to engage in the difficult business of trying to become more mature in dealing with others or negotiating the conflicting desires in your own mind. Instead, you simply go and meditate, you do prostrations, you do chanting, and you hope that those practices will magically make the problems in your life go away. This is called spiritual bypassing — an unskillful way of clinging to habits and practices. As you can imagine, it's not very healthy — and not very effective. People often come back from meditation retreats and they still have the same problems they had before. The other problem in thinking that Buddhism teaches non-ego is that those who understand the healthy functions of the ego believe that Buddhism lacks a proper appreciation of these functions. They think that Buddhist teachings are incomplete and need help from Western psychology in order to become a complete training of the mind. Actually, the Buddha's teachings contain all the elements of healthy ego functioning. Even the not-self teaching is treated by the Buddha as a type of healthy ego functioning.

    Read further here

  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer
    edited April 2014

    @wangchuey said:

    Disagree.
    He says "modern psychology" when referencing "healthy ego functioning" despite the fact that modern psychology and psychoanalysis reject the concept of ego as being valid or true, they only provisionally utilize it when their patients believe such a fiction to be the case. Freudian psychology isn't modern. Dzogchen teaches that one completely transcends the mental-subject, the ego, and even transcends the superego. With this in mind, his attempt to speak on behalf of all Buddhism is blatantly wrong, as his position literally entails a retention of even the superego. I find his writing to be not fully thought or or argued well, as he doesn't actually follow points to their conclusions from their premise, instead he seems to be prone to asserting points without rationally justifying them. With that said, I don't find his position to be philosophically or psychologically sound.

    Hence Cooper’s assertion that the superego is a
    hierarchical arrangement of internalized others, and his insistence in decomposing the superego into its phenomenal components, are most helpful in the process of depriving the superego of its power over the individual’s experience and behavior, or, which is the same,** in uprooting the superego—which is a key aspect of the process of Awakening**. However, it would be more precise to define the superego as a “hierarchical arrangement of the superegos of others:” since the reactions of internalized others are determined by their own superegos, Freud was right in pointing out that the superego, rather than being constituted directly by the assimilation of the views and criteria of the original others, is constituted by
    the assimilation of their superegos (it is the superego of the internalized significant others that the original other embodies when inhibiting an infant’s subjectivity -which is the reason why Freud made it clear that the transmission of a society’s values and traditions is perpetuated from generation to generation through the superego, which is a key factor in upbringing and education)

    -From: Beyond Being Beyond Mind Beyond History, A Dzogchen-Founded Matatranspersonal Metapostmodern Philosophy and Psychology For Survival and an Age of Communion, Volume II Beyond Mind: A Metaphenomenological Metaexistential Philosophy, and a Metatranspersonal Metapsychology By Elias Capriles

    http://webdelprofesor.ula.ve/humanidades/elicap/en/uploads/Biblioteca/bb-bm-bh.part-ii.pdf

    I find Capriles's account to be far more in-depth and rigorous. While the prior link, to me, came off as rather non-academic. With that said, I consider your link to be that of pragmatism than into the gritty details of what is true, which is fine. The Buddha taught some that the aggregates were not the self, and on other rare occasions pointed to the aggregates as self. However, not once, does the Buddha ever teach an ego, it is page one, sentence one rejected, it is a working axiom for the Buddha. So on that basis I have to reject the link's use of ego in the way it did, moreover I think this supports the notion that it isn't intended to be a technical document, rather something that can be taught to a non-technical audience, as if it were technical, there would be discussion of a bundle-self and a total rejection of the ego. Either that or the author believes in a svabhava that directly is contrary to the Buddha's word.

    lobster
  • wangchueywangchuey Veteran
    edited April 2014

    I find Thanissaro Bhikkhu's view more practical and applicable to my current living situation. After all, we're only "talking" about different ways of describing a "taste" of anatta, "not-self", when all we need to do is practice and find out for ourselves. There's only so many words available to describe it, when it probably cannot be put into words in the first place. I don't think he is speaking for all of Buddhism, and my apologies if I had inadvertently put him in that position.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @atiyana You talk a lot about psychology and study and research and sources and so on. How is your practice? Do you experience a lot of the stuff that you talk about?

    Kundo
  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    @wangchuey said:
    I find Thanissaro Bhikkhu's view more practical and applicable to my current living situation. After all, we're only "talking" about different ways of describing a "taste" of anatta, "not-self", when all we need to do is practice and find out for ourselves. There's only so many words available to describe it, when it probably cannot be put into words in the first place. I don't think he is speaking for all of Buddhism, and my apologies if I had inadvertently put him in that position.

    Fair enough. On this I should say that though are in some respect are limitations of how describe, or as you say "only so many words", on the other hand I think there is a continuum of descriptions, some being more technically accurate than others. I agree with your general sentiment however, and I am glad you find Thanissaro Bhikku's teachings helpful, for me it would be quite contrary, as I went through a period a few years back where I was personally trying to reconcile the place of the "superego" in the context of Buddhism, and I found Capriles to be practical and more applicable to my situation. In fact, I, though having not read Thanissaro's work on it, had personally derived a similar position, which was actually troubling me. Different strokes I suppose!

    By the way though, it wasn't you who put him in that position, his wording concerning "the Buddhist position" etc., is what did so. This is a somewhat common tendency I have observed in some Forest Tradition monks, and in particular in some of Thanissaro's writings. It is what it is.

    Thanks for your time!

  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    My view is actually mostly derived from experience. Seeking valid cognition can surely supplement the conceptual side of it though!

    My "practice" is going well. I spent many years in retreat, two years after being initiated into the path via period of spontaneous and sudden extreme bardo visions. I spent a few years practicing in the style of the path of renunciation (theravada/mahayana), after studying emptiness and attaining what one of the older systems of classification call the emptiness of self, I began to intuitively lean towards tantrayana. Implications of emptiness seemed to intuitively lead me towards conclusions concerning what is essential in a path and what is possible as well as the necessary qualities of a Buddha concerning things like unconditioned bliss. So first from in part texts I would stumble on and second in part from a working theory of contemplation utilizing a specific theory of consciousness, I derived a practice myself that is inline with the mother tantra path of bliss, however I combined the upper door route with the lower entrances route. Through intuition of emptiness I concluded there MUST necessarily be a path where one becomes enlightened via bliss if the conditions are right, I concluded that often our conception of emptiness if fundamentally flawed, in that we conceive of some sort of a neutrality, but that this was actually a conceptual extreme, that in fact it must necessarily be an non-apprehendable sort of unconditioned bliss (for a variety of reasons). Through this I began seriously practicing heat-yoga, guru-yoga and specific tangential methods that derived from my working theory. As time went on I would stumble upon texts that directly supported my intuition, which of course then was fuel to the fire. I eventually gained rather extreme control over aspects of the body and accomplished the prostate and urethra reversal, the great blisses that occur, eventually achieving the total pleasure which gives a glimpse into Rigpa. As I was discovering and uncovering more, I began to look for serious teachers who would collaborate with me, as I was interested in anyone else who had for example learned the urethra reversal because I had found no texts on it, yet it supported the aim of reverse ejaculation considerably. I got various responses and help from various sources, with the office of the Dalai Lama responding eventually after a few months of occasional pestering, that the Dalai Lama knew of only one other person who had accomplished that specific reversal, who had been dead for a number of years. He would draw in milk like a straw as proof of concept. I continued to do the practice, and began noticing odd things concerning the differences between when I would actively dedicate the pleasure and bliss to all sentient beings in exchange for their unpleasantness and negative merit, and then dedicating the positive merit through the exchange to them etc., versus the times that I had not dedicated such, as on several occasions I began experiencing extremely sudden visions of yogis and peaceful deities, shooting light into my chest at the level of heart and experiencing the bliss compared to butter melting in the sun, while this wouldn't happen when I failed to dedicate during the practice.

    I eventually was lead to Dzogchen, and the old classification of path of renunciation, path of transformation, and path of spontaneous liberation, and learned that once the total pleasure and authentic glimpse of Rigpa has been had, then it is time to take up essential Dzogchen practices, as the very starting point is that exactly. Which is kind of where I am now, I am now only in partial retreat, as the past year and a half had has a lot of change that has required my attention, but I am determined to see this through. I practice thogal now, and with my bardo visions initiating me into the path, I have had expedited progress with this practice, as I automatically know how to differentiate between awareness and mind, and bring about the visions, as during the bardo visions I experienced the first three thogal visions.

    Anyway, I obviously have stream-lined and been very brief considering this has been a complicated process unfolding over around 6-7 years or so. I plan on completing a 12 years total in retreat (and in some cases partial retreat like now), which means I am ahead of schedule, so in that, I can say my practice is going well.

    Sorry for going on longer than you may have been pushing for, it just seems cheap to say "my practice is going well, and yes of course I have experienced a great much of that which I speak". If that is what you preferred instead, I am sorry for wasting your time. Thanks for your time either way.

    lobster
  • My "practice" is going well.

    Indeed.

    Mr Cushion is cheering . . .

    You clearly still have a recognizable persona/ego. Where to now?

    KundoHamsaka
  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    @lobster said:
    You clearly still have a recognizable persona/ego. Where to now?

    Having an absence of such doesn't entail avoiding the use of conventional language, that includes all Buddhist traditions I know of. This includes strictly non-dual traditions such as Dzogchen, which teaches that the total overcoming of the mental subject as indeed part of awakening, however none of their masters cling to the idea that one must avoid the restrictions of conventional language, and they comfortably use "I"/you/etc. The truth is completely beyond words, descriptions, and even thoughts in Dzogchen, so these conventions/constrictions of language are seen as necessarily built into language, and as such there is absolutely no reason to effort to circumvent them, as it is futile. The Buddha said "I" and "you" and also made clear that these were just conventions, actively avoiding such conventional language amounts to a conceptual aversion/attachment. I wouldn't confuse the conventions of language for some implicit ontological claim, some strict phenomenological position, or an indication of where someone resides on the soteriological continuum.

    Maybe a Madhyamakan concept of the two truths would help, as long as one isn't becoming attached to them, as they are also merely provisional. As well as the notion of action through non-action.

    Lastly, even if someone presents text or expresses themselves in a way in which they appear foolish or ignorant, it still may be best to heed the familiar zen notion, to not judge someone a fool based off appearances alone, as they may be someone who is cloaking their wisdom by acting foolish. With this in mind, we can realize in a sense, when dealing with the truth beyond words, descriptions, and thoughts, that language then makes an apparent fool of all of us.

  • @atiyana, yes indeed. As usual language can be a veil as well as revelatory.

    However I was asking a very direct conventional question. Obviously unclear.
    :o

    Where do you feel you are going now?

    Hope that is more comprehensible.

    Buddhadragon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    :rolleyes: Brevity, round here, is probably more appropriate....people tend to stop and read more when the posts are shorter and 'user-friendly'....

    It would be a genuine shame if all that wisdom and education went un-read because people could not be bothered to plough through unbroken paragraphs of text.

  • atiyanaatiyana Explorer

    @lobster said:
    atiyana, yes indeed. As usual language can be a veil as well as revelatory.

    However I was asking a very direct conventional question. Obviously unclear.
    :o

    Where do you feel you are going now?

    Hope that is more comprehensible.

    Gradually to a mastery of the third and fourth Thogal visions. No-one going nowhere.

    lobster
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    And what does it feel like to be in the mastery of the third and fourth Thogal visions?
    @atiyana: You have so much knowledge to share with all of us here, but I personally would like to listen to you speaking from your heart more often. There are posts where you speak from "Base Atiyana" and you sound really wonderful and enlightening. At other moments, your knowledge and the theoretical template you apply to your life seem to deconstruct you and distance you from yourself and squash the voice we really want to hear. All that Dharma that you know so well, let it speak from your guts not from your brain. Don't tell us about your practice. Show us your practice, please.
    In Metta.

    personKundo
  • He would draw in milk like a straw as proof of concept.

    Warning:

    Do not try this in McDonald's with a milk shake . . .

    ;)

    All good stuff. Too advanced for me. The benefits would seem to be exactly as you mention. Bravo.

    personatiyanaBuddhadragonKundo
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @atiyana said:

    I eventually gained rather extreme control over aspects of the body and accomplished the prostate and urethra reversal, the great blisses that occur, eventually achieving the total pleasure which gives a glimpse into Rigpa.

    I learned to suck my toes in ballet class when I was 8. Forgot to add it to my Buddhist CV... my mistake!
    No, no, no, Sheldon, it is absolutely not sarcasm!!!

  • I wonder if I can get my ego removed under the National Elf Service? Like spiritual cosmetic surgery... :p

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    If only it were that easy... but then what do I know! My rigpa has not hit home yet!

  • Ego Is just one of the thoughts. You have fed one thought so much energy and you believe this thought Is you. That Is the ego.

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @dharmamom said:
    If only it were that easy... but then what do I know! My rigpa has not hit home yet!

    Rigpa is your home @dharmamom, but you are not always aware of it, when you are being, well you, because it is your awareness.

    When you bring your mind home in meditation, you can glimpse Rigpa. However, sometimes there needs to be an introduction. Next time you are meditating, welcome it, who knows what it will bring.

    I am not sure if @atiyana was discussing retrograde ejaculation btw. That would require a relaxation of the sphincter to the bladder at the time of orgasm. It would also mean relaxation of the bladder muscle (which is not normally under voluntary control), and the creation of negative intra-abdominal pressure if fluid is being taken up into the bladder in the way my overactive imagination describes... :eek: ...

    Great control indeed of bodily functions.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    ((My comment on Rigpa was intended as sarcasm, @anataman. Comes from another thread... Thanks for the explanation anyway :) ))
    I think @atiyana is a woman, so not sure if the ejaculation comment applies to her....

  • robotrobot Veteran

    @dharmamom said:
    ((My comment on Rigpa was intended as sarcasm, anataman. Comes from another thread... Thanks for the explanation anyway :) ))
    I think atiyana is a woman, so not sure if the ejaculation comment applies to her....

    I'm pretty sure that he is a guy. He mentioned prostate and urethra reversal that he had accomplished, in that block of text above. What ever that means. Sounds uncomfortable, though he said it was blissful.

    Buddhadragonanataman
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Had missed the prostrate part. Guess you're right... :)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
  • robotrobot Veteran

    Prostate envy. Nothing to be ashamed of.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    If you think I envy.....

    Oh...hang on......

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    It's not quite the same thing, but yes, given the context in which it was stated I'd say atiyana was a man

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2014

    Yes.... apart from anything else, his 'writing style' would suggest that....

    I don't know why, it just does.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited April 2014

    @federica said:
    If you think I envy.....

    Oh...hang on......

    Our friend Freud spent the biggest part of his career wondering what women want and the only brilliant hypothesis he came up with about our gender was penis envy... Honestly...

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    no comment - lmao

    Honestly this forum makes me laugh - lol - lol

    Sorry darling, I'm coming to bed soon...

    LOL

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