The Ego, the Reference Point

Egoic Misconceptions


Is answering to your name egoic?

Some people state that answering to your name is egoic - and that there must be some egoic remnants still there.

When a child is young they learn their name, just as they learn the names of many things - dog, cat, block, ice cream. Prior to the development of conceptual thought there is no self image ( the concept of "me") and so the name that they have learnt is just a name, a label just like any other label.

As there is no ego there (meaning no mental construct about the "me") the use of the name by the child could not possible by egoic.

When conceptual thought starts up a concept of "me" is built up over time and becomes - as the child grows older - the "real me". Later on in life the name is still used, just as in childhood, but now that name is a part of the conceptual structure of the ego.

When the "me" is seen through - what is seen through is the "self image" in the mind - it is realised that the this self image is a fake. It is seen as illusory.

All that is left is the name, the label itself. No ego there.

It would be ridiculous to refer to all other things by their names, but to refuse to recognise the name that was given to you by your parents. Only a mind - and a "me" , in a misguided attempt to be spiritual, could come up with a scheme like that!


Is using the first person personal pronouns (I, me, my, mine etc) egoic

The use of words does not an ego make! Using the word "I" in a sentence is using the first person personal pronoun in its normal sense. It refers to the person that is using the word - just as a name - Jack, for example - would refer to another person.

So it is a convention to use the personal pronoun, rather than refer to your self by your given name.

But what does this have to do with ego?

Something is egoic if there is an extant belief in the "me" - as being the real "me". It is a mental image that has come to be the "actual me" (not in actuality, thought - just a belief - just a thought).

So the use of the word "I" can be egoic for example "I have achieved 30 years of Spiritual Practice". "I am more spiritual than those people over there". And also "I am about the last person that will ever get enlightened". "My thoughts are not pure enough". In all of these there is a "me" and there is the story of the "me". Very often there is a past and judgments about it.

Belief in the "me" mental image = egoic.


If there are thoughts about a "me" does this mean that the ego is still there, alive and well?

We do not choose our thoughts. There are two reasons for this - firstly there is no "me" there to do the choosing, and secondly thoughts just arise. There is no control over what comes up. Efforts can be made to suppress thoughts - but that is what it is - a suppression of thought which has already arisen. It is after the fact.

When the "me" has been seen though thought slows down a lot and there are times when there is no thought at all. But also there are times when there is a lot of mind chatter. Once again - we do not choose thoughts - and this applies to both content and frequency.

So thoughts still occur. "Me" thoughts still occur, but they do not have any traction any more. They just arise and move on. You can notice that they do not have traction - and it is quite interesting to notice that. Good fun too!

So - thoughts come and thoughts go - and that includes thoughts about the so called "me".


Where does Identity fit into this?

Our true nature is Eternal, Universal and Non-Personal. Our true nature is that we are an expression of the One Life. Life Lives Us. We are Lived.

Our nature is Aliveness - Awareness - Consciousness. The One Aliveness, the One Awareness, the One Consciousness. The Omnipresence. Oneness.

What this means is that there is no entity there - no separate person at all.

Our nature is ineffable - it is prior to thought, it is beyond thought. Our nature cannot be encapsulated in concepts, let alone in words. This is a big disappointment to the mind - the one no-thing that the mind cannot understand or work out.

We do not need an image in the mind of what we think we are. It does not add anything at all to Aliveness itself.

In fact conceptualising Life Itself does the opposite - it relegates Aliveness to the abstract, the conceptual - which has a deadening effect. (not actually - it just seems like that)

So there is no "I" there, or "me" there to have an identity. There is only the function of Aliveness. Our nature is a movement - Aliveness is a movement - it is a verb.

This function of Aliveness moves through us - Life Lives Us. This movement is directly experienced by everyone at every moment.

So there is no identity at all as far as our true nature is concerned. It is non conceptual anyhow - so no sense in trying to conceptualise it.

The ego does have an identity - it is what the ego is all about. "This is me". "This is what I am about." If you do not like me like this - then go jump!"

Identity implies strong, or not so strong statements about who and what they are. I am identifiable as that. That is my identity. There is a "me" there.

Our nature is not that at all.

No statement about our nature can be made that is true. Nothing needs to be defended or can be defended. Nothing needs to be defined or can be defined. Nothing needs to be explained or can be explained.

Leave it as Not Knowing. The mind, which always wants answers and explanations, does not like that.

It has been said that our nature is Eternal, Universal and not personal. However looking into that for attributes or characteristics is a fruitless task.

Universal means without boundaries of space, Eternal means without boundaries of time and Not Personal is without a separate person. The mind cannot do much with that either. Another fruitless task for the mind.

As The Buddha said

"Our theories of the eternal are as valuable as are those which a chick, which has not broken its way through its shell, might form of the outside world. "



Written by Mike Graham, 1 Nov 2009, last edited 2 Nov 2009.