The extremely intriguing topic of ego has been coming up in various conversations of late and I have put a great deal of thought into how I see things. I have also spent a great deal of time reading what other people think as well, in internet forums. You know where folks comment and share ideas or attack one another making baseless accusations or assumptive statements so far out of context it's hard to not think that maybe they don't know what forum they are on. One theme that has been repeated ad nauseam in these conversations is ego annihilation. Seems that the concept of killing the ego has spread over many religio-spiritual theologies, it’s very en vogue right now, especially among varied christian ideologies. It seems the "Kill the Ego" thing sort of comes and goes, and it's definitely back. it will likely be followed by the philosophies and theologies that encourage embracing the ego as is wont to happen. What is of even more interest to me though is presentation. The way that people present their point of view about ego is fascinating and most of all, ironic. The irony lies in the fact that the majority of people presenting on the “ego annihilation” front are coming from a place of pure ego, as pure as the driven snow.
What inevitably happens in these conversations regarding ego, those of a spiritual nature anyway, is that since the conversation is spiritually focused it becomes about reaching a more “enlightened” state or connecting to something “bigger than ourselves,” most commonly from what I have seen of late, God. To would be ego killers it is the ego that prevents these connections from happening. The internet is rife with folks who demonstrably behave not only as self-proclaimed authorities on the subject but also on mankind itself. They act as though if a person isn’t killing their ego to connect they aren’t doing it right. Since their way works for them they figure that is how it will work for everyone, their way, their answer, their ego that created it. The biggest most blatant demonstrations of ego I have ever seen are from people who claim they are enlightened because they have annihilated it.
When it comes down to it, we all connect to “All That Is” or "Great Spirit" or "God/dess" etc. in our own way. Some folks take a bit of ego along for the ride, others claim not to. I say the word “claim” because when they share their experience, which something compels them to do, they do it using words like “Me” and “I” and that is contradictory to leaving ego behind. Of course I use those words too but I am also not attempting to kill my ego by making it the enemy and then blaming it for my fears and what-not. Still, their conclusions, indeed their experiences themselves, are generally based on what they are connecting to, as are mine. For some it’s “God”, for others it’s “Great Spirit” and there are a myriad of other names I need not go into. The point is that connecting to “it” is related to how we personally define “it” making it impossible to keep ego entirely out of the equation.
The bottom line is that "it" is far too subjective an issue to have a "one size fits all" answer. Each person has their own definition for what they are connecting to. Whether or not ego is present, how ego is defined and what role it plays, among other things, are all personal choice variables. Then of course there are also environmental variables and others, too many to name. The one factor that is present in the equation no matter what your take on it is that we desire to connect to something and it is that something that holds us back. Let’s call it God. If our desire is to connect to God, we first feel compelled to define him and by virtue of doing that we also define the parameters for how we connect to him. All of our conclusions in this regard will be shaped by ego. Why not just annihilate our preconceptions about what we are trying to connect to and connect?
On another similar note, the same thing happens with other aspects of our systems for belief, we invest in them, we want to be right, in some cases ones soul is at stake. It is good to learn, to read, to study, but investing too much in pointless details is all ego. A conversation that only becomes a debate about what year it was when the Romans did this and the Greeks did that or how many miles out in the desert Jesus was when he lost his sandals is ego driven. Arguing over what month Jesus was really born rather than discussing his message and what it could mean is meaningless. Our desire to seek answers to our questions, right down to the color of Mary’s robes and what she did with the holy afterbirth, is part of human nature and we can spend our whole lives searching for those answers but we must consider the questions and whether or not they need answers.
There comes a point where the search stops and one gets comfortable with their truth. At that point, it is essential to share with others, to learn more and grow more. How we go about that is a choice and our decisions determine whether we grow or stagnate. The expression “The Devil is in the details” comes to mind here since often sharing is the farthest thing from what happens in some cases. Instead you get the "my truth is shinier than your truth", "my truth is older than your truth" or "my truth is more valid" than your truth arguments. You get people backing up their truth with allegedly historical facts and other subjective details. Details to get hung up on which only end up diverting from growth rather than accelerating it.
As time marches on and people are in perpetual seeker mode ancient truths that have been around for hundreds of years are repackaged and resold to an awakening populace who end up believing the information to be new. What we end up with is perpetually seeking universal answers where there are only universal questions. Our philosophies, religions and theologies help us define our answers and we move forward applying what we have learned. Often we even accept that other people may have a different point of view than us and that it is just as valid as our own. We all tend to agree that there is “something out there” that we can connect to, so why argue about how it’s done?
At any rate, back to the topic at hand, annihilating God, or rather our preconceived notions about what it is. The truth is, no one knows, no one, and anyone who tells you differently is either entirely too pretentious or is trying to sell you something. How you picture it or experience it or define it has nothing to do with the actual “It.” I could even put God and ego into the same box since one doesn’t exist without the other, and file it away. I keep the information, I keep the knowledge and wisdom I have from its exploration of both the “It” and the ego and commit to continuing to learn and grow. Enlightenment is wonderful but it isn’t a constant, no one walks around in a perpetual state of enlightened behavior, we just don’t live in that world and in the world we do live in that would be utterly exhausting, not to mention that in this world, ego is necessary to survival.
On another hand, if I put the “It” and the ego into the same box it could be said I agree with the ego killers, in a way. Annihilation of ego means letting go of all notions about God, religion, morality, spirituality and reality itself so at the end of the day, all those little details people are constantly spending their time debating about don’t matter whatsoever. It isn’t about letting go of ego, it’s about letting go of everything. Assigning blame to ego is just a convenient cop-out we are trained from birth to implement. Only someone coming from a place of ego thinks they can describe God (they may or may not need your credit card number first, of course.) and even if they do, it is their god, not anyone else’s unless one makes that choice. Of course this whole diatribe only serves to satisfy my ego, good thing I’m not in denial about having one.