In the beginning, there is vastness and pure energy. It is unlimited and unconditional. It is whole, swift and fluid. There is no body, no time, and no worry. The universe is the heartbeat. Until the big blackout.
I am incarnated, thirsty, hungry, cold and sleepy. A receptor, breathing in and breathing out, I am surrendered to animated things that feed and warm me.
I solidify. Despite the limitations of my body, I can’t stop exploring. The beat of my heart pulses curiosity. Sensations repeat and agglomerate. Trends emerge. The nervous system strengthens. Noise makes sense. Words appear. Conclusions form. Patterns unfold. Hot buttons incubate. I identify. I am this, but not that; I prefer that, but not this. This feels good and that feels bad. I shield my heart, avoid discomfort, and cling to pleasure.
It’s light and dark. The inevitable tension between opening to life and closing off to threats has started. My personality – the combination of unique characteristics that will color my earth experience – has emerged with its inseparable companion: my ego. I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to un-merge the two.
Here are three characteristics to differentiate my ego from my personality:
Three ego characteristics:
1- the ego rigidifies
The ego calcifies, controls, contracts, limits, clings and grasps. It excludes or conspicuously includes. It is fixed and obsessive. It makes uncertain certain, flexible inflexible. It knows it all. The ego is afraid to die. Therefore it dramatically attaches to my personality, whereas amusingly, my personality isn’t attached to itself. My personality is just a work in progress.
2- the ego falsifies
The ego distorts, twists, covers up, makes bigger/smaller/extreme comparisons, misinterprets, projects, second-guesses, doubts and confuses. The ego is mental, biased, black and white, and narrow. My personality is heartfelt and leans into a diverse reality. My personality is conscious, authentic and fundamental, whereas my ego is self-conscious and fundamentalist. And oh, such brilliant irony, the ego makes my personality believe that it is the biggest fraud in the world!
3- the ego quantifies
Since the ego solidifies, it quantifies. It puts my personality into a box and measures its worth from all sides. Money, diplomas, valuable/invaluable character traits and any type of quantifiable assets are irrefutable proof of my personality’s worthiness, or unworthiness. Unfortunately, the ego compares my personality to an indecipherable benchmark that I can never seem to comprehend or reach. My ego is never enough, whereas my personality has a potential to be as vast as the universe.
In conclusion: Given the ego-paradigm, there is a strong temptation to want to get rid of the ego. Instead, let’s recognize it, feel it and – if we can – smile at it. This is the only way to expand and enrich our reality. That’s why studying hot buttons – the top of the ego-iceberg – is so important.
Next time, we will seriously start concluding this interminable series!
Announcement: Over my 25 years+ of studying the ego (mine and other’s) through a variety of approaches and methodologies, I have found the Learning as Leadership systemic cognitive approach to be a unique, concrete and comprehensive framework to work on the ego. Check out the next Personal Mastery workshop in February, 2016. I have also found tremendous comfort and good ideas in reading the teaching of the famous western female Buddhist monk Pema Chodron. Check out her books.
Bonus: What Pema Chodron says about the ego-clinging:
“It is like seating on the Grand Canyon and trying to take care of a pimple on your chin”.