I keep coming back to this one, mainly because I hear the word “ego” used in ways that can be misleading and confusing rather than clarifying.
First, there is a difference between how “ego” is used in psychological and spiritual context.
In a psychological context, “ego” is used to refer to that which helps our human self function in the world. It is the operating system and the software of the human self, and the healthier and more mature it is the better.
In a spiritual context, it is used to refer to our mistaken identity, and that can be helpful too. It points to that sense of an “I” that is overlaid on doing, thinking, experiencing, choosing and so on.
So it is good to differentiate those two meanings of the word, and also take a closer look at what it refers to in a spiritual context.
Is it an entity of some sort? Something that resists awakening? A small black demon that holds us back? An enemy to get rid of or override? The way some folks use the word, it can almost give that impression. The “ego” is made substantial and into an enemy.
What I find when I look at it for myself is that “ego” is what happens when a story is taken as true. It is a simple as that. It is just the dynamics around beliefs and how these dynamics express themselves in my life. And it is all innocent. An innocent and temporary mistake.
A story is taken as true. That story becomes right and other stories – and the ones believing in them – wrong. Reactive emotions come up: anger, sadness, envy and so on. And this human self act as if the belief is true and from the reactive emotions.
We can notice this for ourselves through simple investigations, such as exploring what happens in each sense field and how they combine, and exploring beliefs through The Work.
- confuse psychological ego with how it is used in a spiritual context
- make it into an entity + an enemy/a problem
- ego: dynamics that happen when a story is taken as true