We all know the commercial. A person is making an Eggo Waffle and another person attempts to steal “their” beloved waffle from them. If you weren’t really a possessive person before eating an Eggo, the taste of this food was surely about to change all of that. Looking back on this commercial, I can’t help but recognize the correlation it has for understanding the nature of your own ego.
It is undeniable that we all have an ego. Though when we think about it in a negative light we tend to think of the term “egoic,” meaning to act in an arrogant manner. In simple terms, you are undeniably full of yourself and in most people’s eyes this is not a compliment. Wait a minute. I thought being yourself and loving yourself was a good thing? Furthermore, if everyone has an ego, wouldn’t being full of one’s ego be more highly regarded?
What I realized was that I had no idea what my ego was. In my mind, it was a term I had heard over and over again in my psychology and education classes. I really didn’t find much interest in it, and I truly didn’t think this part of me could cause any of the suffering I was experiencing in my life. It was when I read two books, The Power of Now and A New Earth, by author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, that my perspective began to shift.
According to Tolle, your ego is the illusion of who your mind thinks that you are. What this means is that who we think we are becomes an image in our minds that we have basically made up. In our minds, we identify who we are with the roles we have, the things we own, our gender, our race, our nationality, the things that have happened to us, our accomplishments, our accumulated knowledge, our opinions, and even our preferences (possibly for an Egoic Waffle). All of that is our ego. Wow. I know that is a lot to grasp and I encourage you to stay open minded. What Tolle is saying is that who you truly are isn’t any of those things. Yet, many of us gain a lot of happiness from the egoic roles in our lives. How can this “ego” be the cause of so much suffering? What harm could it possibly inflict if I only think of myself as being my ego?
The suffering occurs when we derive our sense of self-worth from any of the mental concepts we have attributed ourselves as having. Such as, “I feel important because I am at the top of my company.” or “Buying this bigger house will finally give me the happiness I have been searching for.” When our ego drives us, we are looking outside of ourselves to fulfill our sense of self-worth. We think that we need to better ourselves to be more than we already are right now. We fear the opinions about others and constantly strive to prove ourselves. We think be need to be more…but we don’t. That is fear. Our true selves already are everything we seek to prove outside of ourselves.
Our true selves already are everything we seek to prove outside of ourselves.
So why don’t we always feel it? Why do we ever feel empty or depressed if everything we could ever want is already inside of us? Well, what I have learned from Tolle is that we block that connection by too often letting our thoughts dominate us. The answer is inside of us. It is our true self. To hear it, we need to quiet the mind and be still. We need to turn ourselves off from the many distractions we fill our lives up with. I am sure many of you have heard the phrase, “Be still and know that I am God.”
There are many ways to do this that I will talk more about in a later post. In the meantime, if you wish to learn more I will leave you a link to a video clip on Eckhart Tolle: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/The-Complete-Webcast-of-Oprahs-Lifeclass-with-Eckhart-Tolle-Video
Be still and know that I am God.