Wei Wu Wei
The Ego, the 'me'
Maintaining the Ego
"So if you got an ego, you better keep it in good shape. Exercise it daily "
(Skyhooks, Australian Band, 1970)
Awareness Consciousness - our true nature - is entirely impersonal - there is no separate entity there that could possibly be called a 'me'. It is Life itself and is not an object - not a thing.
The mind cannot handle 'no-thing' - it is outside the scope of the mind. So it constructs a so-called 'me' that we take to be ourselves - the self image - but it is wall-to-wall thought.
By identification with objects (my car, my potato chips) it creates an illusion of solidness - the 'one' who owns those things. But the 'me' still does not exist - it only has an appearance of existing. It appears to exist.
Thoughts refer to the 'me'. Other thoughts refer to those thoughts. Many objects are attached (by thought only) to an apparent 'me', which still does not exist. A web of interconnected thoughts build up - all referring to an apparent 'me' - but none of them actually point to a 'me' that exists.
Thoughts are objects in Awareness. Cars and Potato Chips are objects in Consciousness. Our true nature is the all-perceiving awareness - not on object in Awareness at all.
The belief that the 'me' is our true nature is the primary barrier to the recognition of our true nature and is a case of Mistaken Identity. We do not know who we are. It is also the direct cause of human suffering (meaning mental suffering).
Maintaining the 'me' is a full time job and we do a very, very good job of it. After all - we have had many years to achieve 'excellence' in that and we have very good teachers.
We know all the tricks of the trade and we are all brilliant students!
We do it now like it was second nature ! (Ooops!)
There are completely up-front ways by which we continue to identify with objects - my car, my money, my big house on the hill, my this and my that. Those ones are pretty obvious. Add to that the acquisition of more and more and more - very often acquired but never used. All 'mine'.
We also learn to identify with abstractions - my prestige, my reputation, my legacy, my importance. We can also identify with my poverty, my suffering, my being 'wronged by the world'. The identification is harder to see as the abstractions do not exist as such.
Abstractions are mental generalizations which are are drawn from the world and life, to form judgments, impressions or expectations (which are thoughts only) about life or the world.
We can also identify with objects, abstractions or people where the word 'me' is not said or thought at all. The reference to a 'me' can still be there loud and strong but inferred, implied, taken as said, taken for granted or even just assumed.
Our behaviour can have a 'me' in it, but the thought of the 'me' may not surface. An example of this is when one is patronizing, condescending or pretentious. Similarly our behavior can have a very visible 'me' in it - in anger for example (not all anger has a 'me' in it, though).
The melding of the 'me' into all aspects of our thinking is very thorough - regarding our opinions and views as extensions of ourselves which are to be defended at all cost. We 'defend our rights' and become 'personally outraged' over trivial matters. We take umbrage, bear grudges and take things very very personally. We defend the image of who we think we are - actually defending the mental construct itself - "This is how I am - like it or go jump".
The continuous stream of identifications through the day - every day - is what gives the so-called Ego its apparent 'life'. But it is like a leaky tyre that is losing air as fast as it is being pumped up. New identifications are needed on a continual basis - like continuous life-saving blood transfusions. So the identifications continue. 'Me', 'my', 'me', 'mine', 'me', 'I'.
We "exercise it daily - keep it in good shape".
Then comes the spiritual search - which means to find out who/what we are and who/what we are not. This is a direct challenge to a lifetime of doing exactly the opposite.
Sorting this out is NOT a matter of 'disidentifying' with each and every thing that was identified with - so that we are eventually detached from the lot. Sounds like a good idea, but it is fatally flawed.
Awareness, our actual nature, does not need to disidentify. The Ego - which is not our nature but it is believed to be - is incapable of disidentification. So that takes care of that.
Attempting to disidentify takes for granted that the Ego is real, is substantial and exists in its own right (which it does not). Attempting to disidentify or become detached reinforces the belief in the Ego as the one with whom things are identified. It is in fact a further identification. Catch 22.
Trying to 'get rid of the 'me' does not work for the same reason - it supports the belief that it exists and now must be disposed of. Catch 22.
Trying to eliminate all references to the first person from your thought and speech also fails for the same reason. Catch 22.
Who then is trying to 'get rid of the me', or 'eliminate all references to it', or 'try and disidentify with the me'. The answer is not difficult. Awareness, our true nature does not need to disidentify, and the 'me' is incapable of doing so, but will tell you that it must. Catch 22.
"OK - then - I will find out how insubstantial the 'me' is and then I will be fine.". Awareness does not need to do any of this. The Ego reinforces its own belief in itself by having an agenda to see it's own insubstantialness. Not only that, 'insubstantialness' is an abstraction and you cannot find it anywhere except in the mind. Catch 22.
The apparent ego (actually just a bunch of thoughts) will operate fully and completely at all times and does not leave your spiritual search alone. The 'me' will be there overtly, covertly, slyly, openly, logically, illogically - doing what it does best. Reinforcing the belief in itself.
The only way out lies in the only 'place' that actually exists - the immediacy of the present moment. The immediacy of the present moment is where our true nature is, where God is, where everything is. Nothing exists outside of the present moment. It is where Awareness / Consciousness is. In the immediacy of the present moment there is no agenda, no future, no game plan, no expectations, no fate, no past, no history, no story. Only this.
In the immediacy of the present moment you look - "Is there a 'me' there?" Pure Awareness. No Agenda. No Expectation. Just look. A bit like looking for the occupant of an empty cage at the Zoo.
But you have to LOOK. It is all in the SEEing.
It is the Flame of Attention that Krishnamurti talked about.
Written by Mike Graham, 29 Feb 2008, last edited 3 Mar 2008