Notice when identify with a viewpoint


I listened to a Zen talk about how difficult it is to notice when we are caught up in the ego. It is true, of course, but also not.

The word ego in a spiritual context points to identification with a viewpoint. Or more accurately, with a story and its viewpoint and corresponding identity, and the role in the world that goes with it.

Even clarifying that makes it easier. When we talk about ego, it can sound a little vague and abstract. But identifying with a viewpoint is a little more concrete and familiar. It is something we are more likely to notice as it happens.

And as we get familiar with the symptoms of identifying with a viewpoint, there is even more of a possibility of recognizing it as it happens. We may not be able to shift out of it completely, right there and then, but we can at least recognize that we are caught up in identification with a viewpoint, and do ourselves and others a favor and not blindly act on it.

What are some of the symptoms of identifying with a viewpoint?

What I find is stress, tension, contracted muscles, unease, a sense of precariousness. A sense of having to defend, support or elaborate on a viewpoint, role or identity. A sense of center and periphery. A sense of “I” being located at a particular point in space. A sense of an I with an Other. A sense of a doer or observer. A sense of separation to self, others, life. A sense of the situation and my interpretation of it becoming more solid. A sense of the world being made up of separate entities. A sense of the viewpoint being my viewpoint. A lack of receptivity. Closed heart. Reactivity. Acting in ways I may regret later. An impulse to make myself right and other wrong. A desire to find allies. Blindly caught up in attraction or aversion. Inability to (genuinely) see the validity in other’s viewpoints and interpretations.

The list goes on and on. And even noticing just one of those symptoms, as it happens, is a way for us to notice that we are identified with a viewpoint, and a reminder to not act on it as if it is true because I will most likely regret it later.



  • identifying with a viewpoint, how to notice
    • identifying with a viewpoint (= “ego”, although that word makes it look more solid, abstract)
      • elaborate, defend a viewpoint (role, identity, story)
      • stress, tension, precariousness
      • sense of center, doer, observer, separate I (separation to self, others, life)

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