The human ego has been much-maligned throughout history. Christianity tells us that the seven deadly sins are based on the pursuit of selfish motives or ego. Buddhism reminds us that ego's attachments are the cause for our suffering. From the Course in Miracles we learn that the ego's projection of being separated from God causes us shame, guilt and pain. Contemporary writers such as Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle seek to enlighten us about the pitfalls of eco-centric ways of thinking and acting. None of us likes an egocentric or egomaniac person. But why do we have an ego? Is it really all bad? In Latin language the word ego simply means "I", myself. When we are born we do not yet have a sense of identity. We learn what is other than I through separation and distinction. This is a necessary stage of human development. Later in life, a well-balanced ego helps us to strive and achieve our goals and dreams. It is only when the ego is out of control that it becomes a problem. The ego is then like a fearful child that projects the worst, lives in the past or the future, criticizes and condemns and is rarely ever satisfied. Basically, it wants to protect us from harm, but often doesn't know how to go about it.
Let us make friends with that fearful child, invite it into a balanced inner world, where healthy self care includes quiet time, meditation, prayer and other practices. Let your ego be porous, so that the light of awareness, compassion and cooperation can shine through. Meditation helps us to become the Observer of our thoughts oh, so we don't over identify with our thoughts and emotions. In the end, maybe it is the ego that seeks enlightenment! The higher self already knows the truth. Through the choices we make on a moment-to-moment basis a healthy ego can help us develop our personality and even guide us on our evolutionary path. So let's not demonize the ego, since that might only strengthen its resistance. Instead, let us treat it with compassion and clear awareness of healthy boundaries. What we resist persists; what we embrace from an observer's perspective can heal. Namaste!
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