Ego. . .

When you want to get into Buddhism, one of the first topics you will need to address is the ego. If you searched out information on the ego, then one of the deepest philosophical and psychological doctrines you will find will be Buddhism.

It could be said that a large part of Buddhist knowledge is focused on dethroning the ego. There’s a belief that the ego must be destroyed. However, this isn’t entirely true.

The ego in the untrained mind occupies a central position that controls and dominates our lives. Buddhism tells us to give it a position of minister or advisor. It’s unquestionable that we all have a name, beliefs, and customs, but if the ego dominates us, then what we’ll be doing is giving it and ourself a fixed identity. From the moment we’re born, our ego begins to develop. Everything we are and everything we identify with forms our ego. Our nationality, name, membership of different groups, beliefs, and so on… all these form our identity. We accumulate all this information through our memory and turn this into our “self”. However, Buddhism tells us that this isn’t quite so.

According to Buddhism, the ego is the erroneous conception of the “self” as an entity that exists by itself. It’s the idea of the inherent nature of the ego. This is the view of “self” held by a mind that hasn’t understood the concept of emptiness. What’s emptiness? It’s the lack of the inherent existence of all things. As Buddhist Master Linji spoke “My friends, make no mistake. All phenomena, whether worldly or supramundane, have no nature of their own. They are all unborn, and, therefore, are mere designations, empty names. The expression ‘mere designation’ is, in itself, empty. Why do you see truth in the name? If you do, you are mistaken”. In this way, due to all our thoughts and conditioning, we perceive the world from an ego that we’ve been creating little by little. However, Buddhism says that this is an artificial ego. They say that it’s an ego that doesn’t exist as such, but, rather, that’s made up of many different aspects, and, moreover, all of them are changeable.

So just where is this ego? There is only one Reality. But we’re not living it out directly. We live it out through our mind, and the mind divides it. When it sees reality, it calls it “self”, when it sees it outside, it calls it “the world”; and when it sees it above, it calls it “God”. Try to let go of the constrictions that have led you to lock yourself up in (and reduce yourself down to) your mind. What are you when, instead of thinking about yourself, you simply attend to yourself? Your ‘self’ is born from the mind. Silence the mind and you’ll notice how the ‘self” dissolves; it was only a thought. 

Ego and Buddhism are, without a doubt, two concepts that go hand in hand. If you decide to delve deeper, you’ll realize there’s a new horizon in your life. A new way of relating to yourself and to others. You’ll be setting out on a path to know what life is in a different, new, and enriching way.

Peace and Love, Jim

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