Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

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Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby SDP on Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:07 pm

It all started one fateful day when a nun, head of the drama department in the all girls’ school I attended, told me I had a nice face. Her own face quickly flushed and her hands flew about in the air as if to bat away the words she had just spoken. “I shouldn’t have said that,” she stammered. “It may cause you to be vain.”

Vanity. There it was, the cornerstone upon which I built, at least in part, my search for the Divine. In any new spiritual teaching I approached, I quickly sought out information on how to deal with my ego, the home of vanity. I was convinced that if I was vain, I couldn’t know God. And I wanted to know God; I wanted it badly.

There’s some biblical advice about cutting off your hand or plucking your eye out if they offend you. (I’m sure they were speaking metaphorically, weren’t they?) Anyway, I never had the inclination to cut or poke at any of my body parts with the exception of my ego. I was willing to burn it at the stake, bore it out with a router, or smash it to smithereens with a sledgehammer—anything to escape its control and incessant needs. My ego separated me from the rest of life; it often made me needy and painfully unhappy.

I do not have my PhD in Ego Studies, if there is such a thing. I am a simple God-seeker. I can only share my knowledge of the ego based upon my own ego-vigilant experience and a minimum amount of often contradictory book learning.

Somewhere or other I’d read that the ego just comes as a part of the equipment (I’m paraphrasing wildly) and that it is located (perhaps) in the mid-brain. It supposedly defines our sense of identity and personality. Those who study such things in a more scientific vein have noted that a baby has no sense of anything apart from itself. As the child grows and discovers that it is not the only kid in the show, the competition for recognition and love also grows and the battle for center stage begins. (You might want to note that timidity also arises from the ego so there is no hiding behind the stage curtain thinking you have escaped your ego’s clutches. Au contraire, mon petit chou.)

Here are some of the manifestations of the ego that I have observed throughout the years:

- It has a need to be known, seen, heard and oftentimes great unhappiness ensues when it doesn’t get what it wants.
- It appears to be the home of hurt feelings and dark holes.
- It can make us feel pathetically small and needy at which point we make squeaky little sounds like a new-born piglet.
- It can make us feel puffed up whereby we emanate noises like the barnyard rooster.
- It makes us feel separate from others.
- It prevents us from learning (how can someone who knows everything learn anything?).
- It makes us fear loss (fear is such a crippler).
- It keeps us from being free, innocent and in love with life.

With all that bad stuff going on, isn’t it time to eradicate the ego once and for all? Actually, eradication isn’t exactly possible. Furthermore, in my sunset years, I’ve learned that the ego also has some positive characteristics and I’m learning to let it do its positive things. My ego often motivates me in my human state of consciousness to get up in the morning, brush my teeth, and put on clean clothes. It provides my embodied self with a sense of responsibility toward work and family life. It can fill me with aspirations and the discipline to obtain those dreams. It gives me the sense of personal identity in the physical world that enables me to do all of the above and more.

When my ego begins to sabotage me with self-doubt, tension, pugnacity, self-righteousness, ignominy, hypocrisy, jealousy, distrust, or greed, I no longer try to wrestle it into submission or slice it up with a sword I can barely lift. I remember and appreciate that it is useful, not unlike an eye or a hand. I observe it and remind myself that it is not the essential me. I shift from an egobased existence to a soul-based one in the wink of an eye with a few simple techniques; techniques that all begin with the awareness that my ego has become unfriendly.

Awareness in and of itself is often the solution to any problem. For example, once you become aware that your ego has gotten hold of the steering wheel, it often loosens its grip in the blazing light of that awareness. It’s that simple.

How do you become aware? Set an intention each morning: I intend to observe my ego this day. Do it deliberately for however many days it takes to form a spiritual habit of ego-watching. Who’s doing the watching, you ask? It’s that higher part of your self, your soul self to be precise. If observation alone does not pour the cooling waters of Spirit on your inflamed ego, here are two techniques you might consider trying:

- Place an image in your mind’s eye—a beautiful rose, someone you love deeply, or a spiritual master. Look at that image inwardly until you are back on smooth waters and the ego is no longer screaming for attention.
- Practice shifting your awareness from the mundane (outer life) to the sublime (inner life) several times each day in non-stressful times until you can do it with ease under any circumstance. Once this spiritual skill is acquired, it can be a simple matter to shift to Soul whenever the ego enters the red zone on the Feed Me meter.

The ego can be a good friend, but it is definitely not a good friend when it is out of control and screaming to have its needs met. And it is definitely not who you are. As a faculty of the mind, the ego only knows its own contents, not the true self and its contents (though it likes to think it does). You are no more your ego than you are your eye or your hand. You are soul without limits in what you can know and be. Live accordingly!

This article is an excerpt from The Would Be Saint by Jo Leonard and is available in paperback on amazon.com. One reviewer wrote, ”One of a growing number of books by spiritually committed individuals who are willing to share—without setting themselves up as ‘gurus’—what actually worked for them in their quest for the Divine." You can visit her website at http://.www.jeleonard.com
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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Jane on Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:54 pm

Thank you for the reminder that ego is part of the equipment we're given as tools to use in this lifetime, but that it is not who we are. Singing a sacred word seems to help me when my ego gets out of control.
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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Marian on Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:14 am

Most refreshing Jo to see such honesty expressed. I've been wondering about the adverse effects of completely denying the ego a form of expression in the physical? It seems to me that some forms of religion beat it into submission and this can have a detrimental effect on ones physical, emotional and mental well being. What are your thoughts on this? I don't think it is possible to fully mature as an individual without having experienced some form of recognition in a positive sense.

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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Vidyanet on Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:13 pm

I'm wondering about how practical it is to befriend the ego's of others? And what that might take? Especially the ego's of others in a group? or on a collective scale? That seems like a pretty tall order (to me) compared with befriending only one's own ego.

These are (I believe) quotes from Dan Brown's recent book, The Lost Symbol.

'We have scientifically proven', says Katherine, 'that the power of human thought grows exponentially with the number of minds that share that thought.'


On one level I might (seem to) have my own thoughts. On another level, the power of my thoughts seem to be affected by the thoughts of others.

This is where I found those Dan brown quotes mentioned.

http://www.theintentionexperiment.com/t ... ention.htm

The page illustrates some of the "science" and the findings mentioned in his book.

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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Marian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:10 am

Hi Vidyanet,

Good to communicate once again. Befriending other peoples egos seems a very interesting experiment. I am aware that the majority of people like to 'be in control' and I am wondering how often this appears to be - seen to be - the ego. How we feel about that control or our own lack of control in a situation can play out in so many ways. I wonder how we can ever see the wood for the trees :lol: Recently I have noticed a quietness come over me if I let another person have control. In other words when I just let go. This is a new experiment for me so I have not gathered enough experience to make a big contribution to the discussion. But it's fun having fun in new ways. :)

Love and all that
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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Jo Leonard on Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:01 am

Recently I have noticed a quietness come over me if I let another person have control. In other words when I just let go. This is a new experiment for me so I have not gathered enough experience to make a big contribution to the discussion.

I really like what you said, Marian. I have been experimenting with this as well: Being Vairag (unconditional love)
and just letting go. You said you hadn't gathered enough to make a big contribution, but in fact, you did. Blessings, jo
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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Marian on Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:37 am

Thanks Jo. It's a wonderful moment to moment thing. <3
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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby andrea on Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:00 am

Recently I have noticed a quietness come over me if I let another person have control. In other words when I just let go.

Hi Marian and Jo

I wonder if it is not “letting another person have control”, but just letting go of the need for any control and having Detachment (Vairag). That would explain the quietness or peacefulness that would be experienced. No need for the ego to stress over having control or being controlled. It would not matter. Sounds like a good step towards befriending the ego. :D

I like to see the ego as a wonderful gift from God. An excellent vehicle for the subconscious to make itself known in my life thus creating opportunities for learning. The least stressful way to view these experiences is with detachment, as neither good nor bad . Karma is just. The qualities of ego can also be viewed as neither good nor bad . It is when those qualities are on the extreme ends of the scales that problems happen and maybe more karma is created. Awareness is the way to keep from being caught up in an experience and to learn to temper the qualities of ego that are causing problems. Awareness helps me to step outside of the experience and see the lesson in it. And then hopefully move on to new lessons.

The following by Anthony De Mello is an awesome book on awareness
Awareness: a de Mello spirituality conference in his own words

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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Vidyanet on Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:21 pm

Never a dull moment when looking at history. IMO.

For example, take a look at this history for the word "ego".

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?sea ... hmode=none

Next, look at the history it has for the word "I".

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=I

These are some questions that came to me upon reflection of that history.

Is it kind of ironic how the word "ego" gets such a negative connotation in some circles?

Is this because a mysterious "God" has taken over the place of one's own individual self, subsequently subjugating the individual to objective religious dogma and history concerning spiritual authenticity?

The Sanskrit numeral for "one" - the spelling - appears not so far removed from the word "ego". IMO. And neither does the word "Ek" beginning Guru Nanak's Mool ("Root") Mantra.

It is remarkable and noteworthy, IMO, the recorded experiences of certain "spiritual travelers" upon meeting with higher forms of consciousness. The "I AM That" exclamation that some of them reported. I mean, particularly the times they couldn't tell the difference between their own individuality and that of higher awareness.

So I'm wondering now why "ego" got a bad reputation in the first place. And if the church had anything to do with it.

Seriously, if there be an idea of one person serving as "God"? Does this mean that everybody else has to somehow measure up, or submit? I'm thinking back along the lines of religious history generally, and the formalization of church dogma that created various (sometimes conflicting and warring) sects.

Then a thought came to mind. What if there is really only ONE ego? ONE individual? ONE God? Does this make it any easier to "befriend" the ego?

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?sea ... hmode=none

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=friend

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Re: Befriending the Ego - by Jo Leonard

Postby Vidyanet on Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:46 pm

These were a couple of interesting links for the content about world religions IMO. The idea that everyone is God. And it was the common truth behind all world religions.

http://www.iawwai.com/EveryoneIsGod.htm

http://www.iawwai.com/TruthBehindReligion.htm

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