The Ego, the Reference Point

Does the Ego Exist?

Basically there are two things

  1. Our actual true nature in the immediacy of now - which is Awareness / Consciousness / Aliveness / Presence - there is no separate entity, or sense of 'me' in that.

    It is Life Itself. Pure Aliveness.

  2. A set of concepts that are the self image which is the ego, the 'me', our human sense of self, based on a cherry picked version of the past.

    The self image not our actual self - just an image made up of thoughts.

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The ego only appears to exist when it is being fueled by our own true nature. It does not have any substance of its own and it cannot stand alone.

All the power or apparent power comes from our true nature and only then because there is a belief in the content of thoughts. When the thoughts occur and we believe them - that is the only time they have power. But the thoughts do not have any substance of their own.

Psychological suffering is based on the the belief in a false sense of self - the Image that you think yourself to be. It is easy to see how negative thoughts about yourself cause suffering, but so called 'positive' thoughts also cause suffering, when for example, these thoughts are ridiculed, challenged, invalidated or, even worse, ignored.

So looking at "Is there really is an 'I' there?" undercuts the whole process.

Yet we go on believing in the sufferer that we think ourselves to be. That reference point is used hundreds of times during the day. But Nisargadatta would say - "Who is the sufferer?" There is only one answer to that. The one we believe in so strongly!

The linch pin is the separate self that we believe ourselves to be - that it the key. It is the 'me' that is the cause of the suffering and it is the one who suffers.

We find out who we truly are. We are already that. It is what we seek.

Just 'believing' ourselves to 'be consciousness', or 'be tranquility' is of no use at all. It is just more thoughts that we attach to. Another layer. Another failure.

The only thing is to SEE that we actually DO EXIST and that we are aware. We all know that.

And then to SEE that the separate identity actually does not exist in any substantive way. It does not have any independent existence. Bob compares it to a piece of iron in a fire. You can take it out of the fire and it glows for a while and cools off. No independent power, energy.

Rather than saying "Who am I?" - it is far better, in my direct experience, to investigate whether this personal sense of self exists at all?

Investigating this apparent individual 'I' , the separate sense of self

  • Does it exist at all?

  • If it appears to exists - where is it exactly?

  • Can I find it? Where is it located?

  • Where does it start and where does it end?

  • Does it have any substance to it?

  • Can you find anything that you can point to and say "This is me"?

  • If I can find the 'me', then who is aware of that?

  • Is there anything there separate from the Aliveness that I feel?

Doing this is not a one-shot wonder. We have been believing in the 'me' hundreds of times a day for years. This is quite a habit. Quite a habit to break.

Breaking this habit is an interesting exercise as you see more and more how the 'me' has ingrained itself in your thinking processes. Each time you notice this - have a look - "Is that 'me' really there?", "Does it exist?", "Can I find it?" Every time you do this it has to be in the immediacy of the present moment and each time it is new and vital.

Searching for the the apparent 'me' and finding that it does not exist in any substantive way cuts the link. We begin to 'see through' it.

It is more than just thinking "It does not exist", or believing that it does not exist - it is SEEing that it does not exist.

Big difference!

Bob gives the analogy of sending someone down to the ocean to collect a bucket full of 'blue water'. If you tell someone to do this they would just laugh. They have seen the water at close range and know that it is not actually blue, even though it looks that way from a distance. The illusion is seen through - and it takes SEEING to do that.

It is not negating the existence of the 'me' or fighting it, making an enemy of it, or opposing it - it is SEEING through it for the fiction that it actually is. A fiction in conceptual thought.

So you just do not take it seriously any more.


Written by Mike Graham, 19 Jan 2008, last edited 17 Feb 2008



Nisargadatta Maharaj

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama

Wei Wu Wei

Wei Wu Wei

Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi - 'Be As You Are' by David Godman (Summary of Ramana's teaching by David Godman).