In a world filled with the worship of the ego, those who pursue transformation stand in an opposite camp. What is it that they know that the rest of the world seems to ignore?
Our media is full of seminars and programs dedicated to what we might call self-mastery. But seekers seem to have seen through this masquerade. It is as though the world were the King in the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. So what is it that they see?
All transformation nests in a sense of being “in the flow”. Every serious seeker, whether it be in a class of yoga or a meditation retreat has had that earth shattering experience of disappearing into the whole.
It is that first experience that most will never forget nor can they ignore. When this occurs, it is almost immediately understood that the normal ego state has abated and something bigger has taken its place. Has the ego been lost? No. It simply has been re-situated into its rightful place as a placeholder in the whole movement in consciousness. Now, that movement is accessible to the new seeker.
In this revelation it is obvious that mastering the ego as a specific piece apart from the whole will not move one in the direction of permanent transformation. And so the transformative crowd moves with unquestioned inspiration into the unknown drawn by that first simple taste.
The beauty of this journey in today’s global and corporate world is that the new generations are demanding that life be about something bigger than “just me”. In their inner experience they have understood that the pursuit of goals for “myself only” is a continuing confirmation of the dominance of the ego. They have felt something bigger than that occur in their own world, and rightfully, they now seek to serve that bigger sense and lose their ego’s sense of authority in the process.
Years ago, while sitting in an ashram in India, I heard a master declare “ego is simply a functional resistance to what is”. In that moment, it was obvious to me that resistance is something that can be felt within and if that is the case, that a doorway to transformation was in the felt experience of the moment.
That first taste of disappearing into the “whole” that I had experienced as a young seeker was simply the resistance ebbing and wholeness (which had always been present) appearing in its proper place. So, it occurred to me that by tracking my internal felt experience that I could know when my ego was at play.
Over the years I have tracked that internal resistance and noted when it was most obvious that I was playing the egomaniac. These are my favorite obvious behaviors that indicate the ego is at large.
There is no doubt that when you blame someone else for something, separation is at its highest. How could it be otherwise? In this behavior you are pitting yourself against the one you blame. When you blame you are clearly identified as the ego who holds the grudge against another. Notice within yourself when you engage in this behavior. It has a particular feel. Learn to notice when this feel arises, even if it’s on the freeway. It’s a common behavior and for most folks a wonderful opportunity to engage in transformation.
Once again we have a behavior that places you above another person. It is only in the ego state that separation, comparison and position are all identified. This too has its particular flavor. Learn to feel when contempt arises. When it does, stay aware and understand that once again this is an opportunity to transform.
Think about this behavior for a moment. If you are defending, there is no doubt that you have placed yourself as separate from whatever you are defending against. Most of us who engage in defensive behavior feel as though there is an overwhelming and continual assault on who we are. But that “who we are” is just the limited version of our ego. The next time you notice that you’re defending, watch yourself as though you are a science experiment. This very watching is the first step to shedding your ego identification.
I love this term. The image that it evokes cannot help but tell you that you are the ego behind the stone wall. The sense that you will dig in and prevail at all costs has a special quality. For those who possess a strong streak of stubbornness, you know this feeling well. Instead of thinking that this is who you are, see simply that it is a behavior in which you have hidden yourself. Which self? Why, the ego self of course.
While I am sure that you can imagine a variety of other experiences that define you as an egomaniac, these are my particular favorites. So have some fun and pick out the felt experiences of your own in which you feel resistance and separation. If you hadn’t noticed, by following these behaviors you might feel that you have won. But in that winning, there you stand by yourself. Deep inside you know that transformation includes more than that.
Through your own transformation process, have you too battled with the ego and discovered ways to overcome it? Tell us about your experience below.