“No person is free who is not master of himself.”Epictetus
Independence Day has always been my least favorite patriotic holiday. No, I’m not anti-America, I’m anti-nationalism. Plus, fireworks are pointless. Just do a big show one year, record it and then replay that every other year. I’m sure pets everywhere would be on board with that. Or let’s get started making hologram fireworks!
Anyway, the idea that America is somehow the greatest country in the world is a fallacy that we keep buying into because of our egos. Jeff Daniels said it best:
As I’ve been on this spiritual awakening journey, I’ve been learning a lot about the ego and awareness. I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend the videos of Aaron Abke. He’s super-intelligent and explains things really well. Plus, he ain’t too hard on the eyes, either.
Speaking of objectifying people, I was taking notes on one of his vids and to save time and space I used abrevs, and wrote down the ego is a thot.
Now, i’m obvi joking about objectifying people, but something about the phraseology of my shorthand stuck out. There’s something inherently dismissive about the term, no thanks in part to the phrase begone thot. It is not my intention to objectify anyone, nor to disrespect women (although thot is gender neutral; anyone can be a hoe). It’s my intention with this post to explain the ego in a way that makes sense, and provide you with the one sentence that helped me overcome it. But first, let’s look at what the ego is and isn’t.
Abke claims the ego likely evolved with humans as we developed language to define ourselves as separate from the rocks and trees and water and other humans. As it came about through evolution, it’s selfish by nature, looking out for dangers to ensure the survival of the fittest. It’s focused on the negative. It makes sense, by evolution’s standards, to always be focused on the negative, always worried and anxious. Way back in the day (like five million years back in the day) we had to be worried all the time about whether the next thing rustling in the bushes would eat us or if we would eat it. those who were constantly on edge were the ones who survived, so you have your anxious ancestors to thank for your being here.
Nowadays, we don’t have to worry about if the UberEats order is going to kill us (most of the time), but even when there’s no reason to worry, that anxious little voice is often narrating everything. I remember stretching one Sunday morning – nothing at all dangerous or even strenuous– and, from out of nowhere, a wave of anxiety gripped me. At that point, my way of dealing with anxiety was looking around and declaring – out loud – that there was no danger around me.
The problem was that the ego couldn’t see that there was no danger because the ego is not a real thing.
You heard me right. The ego is just obsolete programming of evolution, labeling and defining everything that enters your awareness. With its labels and definitions, the ego creates a false sense of control over everything – it thinks it’s keeping you safe, but it’s really keeping you stagnant. Once the ego has its labels and definitions, that’s the only thing it can relate to. I often think about how amusing it is that there’s a whole science of classifying everything in the world around us, but if you could ask a sparrow what it is, it wouldn’t say it’s a sparrow. Nature doesn’t care about humanity’s labels. Be like nature when it comes to the ego’s labels. It defines itself by whatever is placed in front of it, most commonly the body or mind. When we allow our ego to identify with either the body or the mind that’s when we become vulnerable.
Identities by their very nature are limiting. They say, I am this thing and everything else is what I am not. They keep you from being present, from being the purest expression of awareness you can be. Source/God/the Universe/whatever chose to experience itself by choosing to be you. You are a vessel for the Divine’s experience.
Here me, dear reader, you are not the body or the mind.
You are not the ego.
The ego does not exist.
You are pure awareness.
Let that sink in.
The ego thinks it knows everything, but it only knows its own definitions. Because the ego is not real, it can’t see what is or isn’t. This also means it cannot realize its own unreality.
Let me ask you a question? Are you the urine in your bladder? No? How about the insulin in your pancreas? Still no? Man, I’d be terrible at one of those carney games. Well, how about your thoughts, are you your thoughts? No, you’re not your thoughts. Thoughts are just a byproduct of the mind’s functioning. So why are we so quick to identify with the thoughts in our brains but none of the other processes of our bodies? We identify with the thoughts in our brain because the ego craves an identity.
When you become aware of the ego and its craving for identity, you can do away with it. How do you become aware? Examine your thoughts. Get real curious about them. Meditate and become the witness to the thoughts. Simply observe them; don’t engage. When you are aware that a thought has come from the ego, both the thought and the ego will begin to lose their power. How will you know if a thought comes from the ego? That’s simple! Any thoughts dealing with identity, labeling or control are egoic in nature.
This is what I wrote to take my power back from the ego. Feel free to copy this, or come up with your own phraseology:
Ego, thank you for all you’ve done, but your definitions are no longer necessary. I’ve really loved being with you, but I was thinking ‘bout making a comeback back to me, and you’re in the way of that.
Or, you can just say begone thot!
In Part II, I’ll talk more about how identities create suffering. Until then, choose today to declare your independence from inaccurate identities. Uninstall the old programming that’s been running the show. Step into the pure awareness that you naturally are.