We’ve been seeing a lot of ego-centered attitudes flying around Washington in the deficit battle, the confusing GOP presidential race, and in London with the Murdoch fiasco. Seems like the more power one has, the more the ego dominates: me and my opinions are more important than the needs of others. There is no limit to the damage a powerful ego can cause, from the arrogant conviction that our own opinions are only right ones and everyone should be made to agree, to wielding and abusing responsibility and authority at the expense of other people’s lives and freedoms.
The ego could be the least understood of all our human qualities. It’s the “me” bit that gives us our sense of ourselves. This is not necessarily good or bad, except when selfishness dominates our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. A positive sense of self gives us confidence and purpose, but a more negative and self-centered ego makes us unconcerned with other people’s feelings; it thrives on the idea of me-first and impels us to cry out, “What about me? What about my feelings?”
The purpose of the ego is to be in control and so it keeps us focused in the realm of me-ness. It makes us believe we are the cleverest, best informed and most important, as easily as it makes us feel unworthy, unlovable, and certainly not good enough to be happy. It is this misguided sense of self that is the root cause of so much distress, both in our own lives and in the world: wars are fought, families split, and friends forgotten due to this misunderstanding.
Fostering the delusion that only ‘I’ is important, that me and mine must come before us and ours, the ego makes us believe we are something, that this something is different, special and unique, and that we are separate from everything and everyone else. When we become aware of our essential unity and oneness with all beings then the ego becomes redundant and loses its job. It will, therefore, do whatever it has to in order to perpetuate its employment.
Creating the illusion that we are the dust on the mirror, the ego ensures that we believe we could never be so beautiful as the radiant reflection beneath the surface. Yet how extraordinary to believe that we cannot be free when freedom are our true nature!