The ego is one of the biggest topics in spirituality. Nearly every spiritual teacher throughout history has taught about it. The ego in summary is the singular identity that you call by your name. It is an amalgamation of all the things you identify with… The things you call I, me or mine. Ego is Self Concept.
Because we are raised relationally dependent in a society in which our survival depends upon each other and has for thousands of years, the only way for our self to survive is if we are in the good favor of the rest of the social group. The rest of the social group, beginning with our parents when we were young, have to approve of us. They only approve of us if we are “good”. That is if we are being in a way and doing things in a way that is deemed good by the specific individuals around us. There is no real clear distinction amongst humans between doing bad and being bad. Therefore, the single most important thing to the human ego or sense of self is to believe itself to be good. Shame is the #1 enemy to the human ego. For more information about this, watch my videos titled: ‘The Number One Relationship Obstacle and How To Dissolve It’. And ‘How To Overcome Shame’.
Because the single biggest attachment that the ego has is to believing itself to be good, this is the single biggest blind spot we possess as people as well as the single biggest barrier to self-awareness and enlightenment. We tend to be completely unable to see when we are being in a way or doing in a way that we have been taught is bad (ie. hurting other people).
For the sake of this episode, I need you to suspend judgment about an objective idea of good or bad. I also need you to suspend the temptation to debate on the concept of good or bad in general and instead simply consider human psychology regarding good and bad and how that relates to a person’s ego.
Your sense of what badness and goodness is, is primarily determined by the social group and specific family that you grew up in. Obviously this is different from culture to culture and family to family. One culture may consider sexuality a virtue and the other may consider it a sin. One family may consider self-centeredness to be a necessary part of success and servitude to be a weakness. Another family may consider self-centeredness to be an offense worthy of condemnation and servitude to be the ultimate positive character trait. You will spend your life consciously trying to become anything that you associate with goodness and trying to see that in yourself. You will spend your life trying to avoid the things you associate with badness and your mind will actively avoid seeing these traits in yourself. They will become subconscious. In order to avoid shame, we cope by deflection, denial and reframing so we can believe ourselves to be good. This is when things can get scary.
We can spin anything in order to maintain the idea that we are good and by doing so, make self-awareness impossible. For example, a parent can whip their child with a belt and tell themselves that they are good because they are doing that in order to raise a disciplined child. A serial killer can chop up people into little pieces and keep them in barrels and convince themselves that they are good because they are keeping the people they killed safe. A man can sleep with a prostitute when he has a wife and convince himself that he is good because it allows him to take off tension that he feels towards the wife, so he can come home and treat her better than he would if he wasn’t cheating on her. A person can shoot a politician and convince himself that he is good because he is saving other people from his policies. A fan can turn into a hater and convince himself that he is good because they decide that the celebrity is bad for x y or z reason. A person can eat meat and convince themselves they are good because animals are made of meat or the animals at the supermarket are already dead. A terrorist can kill a group of people and convince himself that he is good because the other people he is attacking are bad. Every war ever waged was waged based on the idea that a person can stay good by killing because the people they target to kill are bad.
The ultimate form of competition that takes place in an insecure ego is this: I have to make you bad so I can be good. As a result, we do not recognize or take responsibility for the things we are saying and doing and the way we are acting and the impact it is having on other people. As a result, we do not change. We make repair in our relationships impossible. We do not become aware enough to awaken and live accordingly. We add to the suffering on earth without awareness that we are doing it. When we add to the suffering on the planet but we are unaware of it, we condemn the world to more suffering.
One of most painful things to experience in this lifetime is parallel realities. The blind spot created by this attachment to seeing ourselves as good, is so big that it can accommodate entire realities. This is the primary cause in fact of the split reality often experienced between parents and children. A parent can live in a reality where they are such a good parent because they gave their child every financial advantage in life. Their child can live in a reality where they were emotionally neglected and shipped from boarding school to boarding school. One person’s attachment to seeing themselves as good and their complete denial of their own badness, makes it so they live in a totally different reality from another person. For more information about this, watch my video titled: The Most Dangerous Parallel Reality. This dynamic makes an actual relationship an impossibility. If one person is convinced that they are good, they therefore have decided that they have nothing to change about themselves, their thoughts, words, behaviors or actions. There is nothing for them to remedy and the fault is entirely on the other side. If they think there is nothing for them to remedy, no resolve can actually ever take place. It also means we will be perpetually gas lighting people and/or we will perpetually be gas lighted by them.
If we wish to awaken, we have no other choice than to be willing to feel the ineffable discomfort of seeing the parts of ourselves that fit into the category of ‘badness’. We have to be willing to see the impact we are having on other people. We have to commit to seeing ourselves through their eyes and from their perspective. We must take them as a part of ourselves. We have to discern what is ours and what is theirs. And we must remedy what is ours.
The safest person in the world, and also the most awakened, is the one who intimately knows their own ‘badness’ and who sees their own shadow. This is the only kind of person who is capable of creating a world that is conscious, authentic and harmonious. The most dangerous person in the world, and also the least awakened, is the person who is convinced he is good to the degree that he can say or do anything and spin it into the idea that saying it or doing it makes him good.
Self-concept, specifically the unwillingness to see oneself as bad and to integrate our shame instead of try to escape from it, is the enemy of awakening. If you wish to awaken, be willing to see and accept your own badness as a part of you and take care of it lovingly so it ceases to be a detriment to your life and the lives of others.