"It's our biological inheritance" – Dr David R Hawkins
Ego = “It me”
Spiritual intention tends to bring up its opposite into one’s experience. Like, if we decide to become more compassionate, it seems as if the unconscious now pulls into our life instances and opportunities to choose compassion over its opposite.
This isn’t to ‘test’ our intention. It’s simply because something within us that awaits resolution is now invited for examination and healing.
The crux of spiritual work is the letting go of me, me, me with all its attractions and aversions, until our attachment to the small, limited self gives way to a deeper realization of our identity.
So, when you think of ‘ego,’ what’s the first few things that come to mind? I’ll go first.
Arrogance Selfishness Grim satisfaction
There is also the notion that egos belong to the personality as attributes
“John’s got a big ego” “Don’t let your ego get in the way”
By making the ego yours or mine, we tend to miss the forest for the trees.
That it is really impersonal and biological.
Let’s put it in a broader context:
Through eons of time, the evolution of animal life, from the simplest to progressively higher life-forms, is also the evolution of the ego. The ego as a primary survival mechanism
Dr David R Hawkins frames it this way:
“[The ego] is our biological inheritance. Unlike plants (that derive energy from sunlight using chlorophyll), animal life had to acquire the energy needed for survival from its environment… Survival then established the main core of the ego, which is still primarily involved in self-interest, acquisition, conquering, and rivalry with other organisms for survival. – from The Map of Consciousness Explained (p. 98). Hay House. Kindle Edition.
In this remarkable book, he explains that in the animal world, the ego evolved along with intelligence into sophisticated survival mechanisms:
hunting territorial behaviour possessiveness competition mating pack formation, among others
Sounds a lot like the human experience, doesn’t it? One difference might be that while animals use teeth and claws, we use Twitter.
The Ego’s Programs
So, now that we can see the ego differently, let’s examine some dominant patterns.
As we go through this list, all the stuff that we hate in ourself and others now makes sense as a whole. For example:
The ego likes to take credit, and wants to be the center of attention. (“That was MY idea!”) The ego is the source of thinking that maintains the separate individual “I” (Me vs you, us vs them) The core of the ego is the experiencer function of the mind that experiences phenomena. The ego is insatiable. It craves novelty and excitement, and abhors boredom. (“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” ― Pascal) The ego is like an information probe, constantly seeking and processing inputs from the world. (See phone notifications) The ego is the limited self with a small s. It thinks in linear terms, like causality (A causes B causes C…) The ego clings to ease and familiarity. It is averse to uncertainty, change and effort. (Why old habits die hard) The ego loves to extract a payoff from negativity; it likes the “juice” derived from being right, and winning. (See football hooligans, violent social movements) The ego enjoys the suffering of others. (See schadenfreude and political theatre) The ego loves pride, anger, force, and winning, and is averse to losing, humility, passivity. The ego loves specialness, glamour, control, and possessiveness (Hollywood version of love) The ego loves status, importance, opinion and attention. It is averse to acceptance, letting go, and being ignored. (See Twitter) The ego would rather change the world than change itself. (“Cancel culture”) The ego wants more (success, money, sex, chocolate…), it is afraid of having less (“The person who suffers from inner poverty is relentlessly driven to accumulate on the material level.” ― Hawkins) The ego clings to the past or frets over the future. It avoids the present. (See the news cycle) The ego loves being right, and it loves victimhood and being wronged. It loves to hate and blame, and despises kindness, forgiveness and peace. (Contrast present day social resentments with examples of Holocaust survivors who forgave their captors) The ego would rather kill or die than admit that it is wrong. Egomania, as seen in the world, is the unbridled entitlement of the infantile mind. (See megalomaniac dictators) The ego secretly wants to be recognized as God. (See the megalomania of dictators, plus fallen spiritual or religious teachers) The core of the ego is narcissism. That which the ego hates, it projects into the world, so it can then direct ‘justified’ hate, blame, anger, etc. For a society or culture, the inability to recognize the egomania of its rulers can ultimately lead to the catastrophic: large scale conflict, war, genocide, slavery, and every kind of inhumanity that we’ve seen or read about. (See the Holocaust, the Nanking massacre, man-made famines, etc,)
As I go through this (by no means exhaustive) list of qualities mentioned by Dr Hawkins, I realize how much of my life is dominated by these ego programs.
A TINY bit disturbing.
if you'd like to read more – a longer version of this post is published on my newsletter (it's free)
Read more: reddit.com