“I am ego-ing”

How refreshing – to change to see the ego as a verb – suddenly I feel more responsible when it comes to choosing it or not: somehow I don’t feel so dirty rotten guilty when it is a verb…

Our exploration of ego would be more fruitful if we stopped using the word as a noun, which immediately implies some “thing,” and instead thought of ego as a mental process that can occupy our attention. For this, a verb is a more appropriate part of speech. I am “ego-ing.”

The difference is subtle, but very important. If I see the ego as a separate self, some thing, then it’s easy to fall into the belief – common in many spiritual circles – that I must get rid of my ego, transcend it, or overcome it in some way. But seeing ego as a mental process, a system of thinking that I get caught in, suggests that I need to step out of that mode of thinking and look at the world through a different lens, one less tainted by fear, insecurity, and attachment.

This is a much easier and more effective approach. Rather than berate myself (or my imagined ego) when I notice myself caught up in egoic thinking, I can notice instead what is going on and step back from it. This doesn’t mean I have eliminated that way of thinking – it will surely return. But when it does, I can choose to step out of it again. Transcending the ego thus becomes an ongoing practice rather than a far-off goal. (See also my “Prayer for Peace.”)

Excerpted from Peter Russell’s essay, “There is no such thing as ego,” first published in the December 2010 issue of Noetic Now, the online journal of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, located at www.noetic.org/noetic/.

With permission from the publisher. © 2010

 

 

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Please note that nothing written here is intended as medical advice. Readers who think that they need help with a physical or psychological condition are advised to seek a qualified opinion.

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