It is very normal in our society to create a definition of a self.
Right from childhood we create this thought structure we call „I“. And to this „I“ we attach attributes, knowledge, experience, conclusions and ideas. All of these things are actually memories in our mind, so this thought structure of the self is entirely put together by the past.
And very often we heavily identify with this thought structure, which is the birth of ego. In the world as it is today, this is the state of mind that most people reside in. And probably the majority of people is not aware of this process inside themselves.
In this article I like to try and explore this dimension of the ego.
Why the ego must suffer
In its very nature the ego is rigid. Yes, it does change here and there throughout the course of life. But still it is made of the past which is static, dead and can’t be changed whatever you do.
A popular trick we play on ourselves is to try and change our interpretations. An example: We suffer something we have done in the past and then we talk to ourselves and try to justify our actions.
Although this trick may satisfy us in the moment, what it actually does is creating another conflict on top of our old conflict. Let me explain: First we have some belief, and we act against it for whatever reason. This creates the initial conflict. Now when we try to discuss it away somehow, we go against the old rigid belief and therefore create a new dissonance within us.
And there are innumerous tricks with which we have learned to pile up disharmony within ourselves. With each one of them we tend to get lost more and more within our concepts of who we are. And the deeper we get into these concepts, the more isolated we feel inside.
In the end all of this game is an attempt to escape from ourselves and fundamental realities of life such as death. But why are we afraid of looking at this reality as it is? Are we conditioned to do so? Do we cling to concepts because their static nature provides a sense of stability? And isn’t this stability merely another illusion we like to comfort ourselves with?
Because in the end this whole game leads us to a diseased mind, that is a mind that can not simply feel at ease. Such a mind must inevitably suffer, as its rigidness bumps against the realities of life all the time. Therefore, only a free mind can live in a harmonious state that goes with the flow of reality.
The egos desire to end its suffering must fail
Now when somebody experiences feelings of frustration or depression, a desire may come up to change these feelings and climb out of this pit of suffering. This means the ego sees its suffering and by an effort of will tries to overcome it.
It therefore says “I am this” or “I feel frustrated”, and “I want to be that”, “I do not want to feel frustrated”. Accordingly it creates an ideal of a future self or a future situation that feels promising in relieving it from its frustration.
So the solution to its current state of frustration becomes another goal to the ego. And a goal is something in the future, therefore this postpones the actual dissolution of the frustration. It is another escape while still carrying the actual frustration to the next moment.
We all know these situations, don’t we? You feel lonely and you project the solution to a relationship you have or might find in the future. You feel frustrated because you are overweight and instead of looking at the frustration you postpone its solution to some ideal situation in the future. We are doing this in millions of ways, don’t we?
And with these concepts and ideals in mind we inevitably live in constant resistance to life as it is right now. Life turns into a battle against what is, the present moment is reduced to a tedious road towards an image of the future. How can such a mind be at ease?
Out of this people created philosophies that “life is a battle” and that “suffering is inevitable”, and they teach that nonsense to children all over the world. But what if instead we asked ourselves if it is possible to eliminate the root of suffering altogether?
The field of psychology tries to make sense of the ego structure. But as the field of psychology is based on knowledge of the ego that – as stated before – must inevitably suffer, this field of knowledge can never alleviate suffering altogether.
Therefore the effort of psychology can only soften the symptoms of a caged mind, but it can never free and transform the mind. All too often it just tries to make the person somewhat functional so one can go about some routine in this society and live in the egoic state of mind, that for some reason we have accepted as the normal way of life.
The ego lives on comparison
There is no such thing as an absolute thought. It is always relative to some position we take. Therefore as the ego is built together by thought, it must always remain in the realm of comparison.
I compare myself with someone else. I compare my experience with some past experience I had. I compare my possessions with anothers possessions. My life is built entirely on comparison as long as the ego takes the drivers seat.
The longer I live this way, the more I see the world through comparison – that is through the past – and the less I am able to experience anything vividly. Life turns increasingly static and wears itself out. How weary we become living life that way! Don’t we?
And with comparison come all the symptoms of an egoic mind: Jealousy, guilt, shame, frustration, depression and many more. All the suffering that we go through that takes us down.
So then, is there an alternative? Is it possible to free the mind from all that?
I say it is, because I have experienced it. But it does not matter when I say it. Because it only becomes your truth if you experience this freedom for yourself. And you can only experience it when you see through the structure of the ego, when you see the dangers and limitations of it, when you start discovering for yourself that immeasurable space within you.
And as you start to tap into this space, naturally a fire within you breaks out and burns down all the suffering, breaks through all the limitations of the ego. Because if you become aware of the cage around you, it is only natural that you burn to break the bars.
An intense awareness of the caged mind is the key to freeing it from suffering.