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28 February, 2009

Understanding the EGO; Right Remembrance

EGO is perhaps the most commonly used term in psychology and spirituality, and is rarely understood (at least for me). The reason is- either it is too difficult and messy term, or our difficult and messy approach to know too simple term, I do not know. When i ponder about it, many time i bungle with it. Let us come closer to this term

First, see what dictionary says about ego:

  1. The “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.
  2. In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality. (

The limitation with these definitions is - they hardly point beyond EGO. They know what ego is, but do not imply how to transcend it. Everything get mixed and grabbed by ego itself. Therefore psychologists often need their personal psychologist to understand their respective egos.

Try the existential definition:

It is association of I (rather than the 'I' itself) with FORMs (I like the term used by Eckhart Tolle); the body-mind-emotion composition which Buddha says the impermanence nature, i.e, ego is the identification of I with the bundle of thoughts leading to sense of separation of ME from OTHERS. This bundle makes cloud covering the bright sun of who I am.

Feeling of superiority is EGO: It is most commonly understood form. If someone feels himself special or superior in contrast to other, it is ego. However, a very shy person having sense of inferiority or humbleness is also 'egotist'. In either case, there is false identification of I.

Body Attachment is ego: A beauty queen who is proud of her body is egotist and same is the ugly person who condemn himself.

Carried away by thought- is ego: Any events and the associated emotions which carry us away with incessant thought, means we are captured by ego.

Greediness is ego: A greedy person who contract himself from other by not leaking anything, even to needy one, is an egotist person. However, a kind and generous behavior out-coming from 'morality and ethics', rather than spontaneity, is also not untouched with ego.

.Wanting attention is ego: We bloggers often get captured with ego by identifying us with our post. The symptoms are: feeling possessiveness of them, 'wanting' the attention and comments from others, comparing our success in terms of number of pages we posted and visitor it attracts, and finally our writings are guided by these factors. Getting attention and love from many people is always good, but what guides us- value or the desire of drawing attention?

Why EGO is the root of suffering?

It is attached with forms which are impermanence in nature. As soon as the medium it attached-with vanishes, it is obliged to search new one. This process is on and on and destined to be the chaos. So the ego is never at rest as it always in threat of being loss. It never carries peace. Ego and happiness/peace are mutually exclusive terms.

What can we do?

The above stuff does not imply that we should not take care of body, money, thoughts or whatever we are possessing. Let us go for them according to our need. Whenever they are with us enjoy them with knowing their true weight. But problem arises expecting apple from the orange tree. We guide the FORMs or they guide us?


Fighting with ego and trying to getting rid of it, is also another ego. It does not work.The binding 'ethics, morality and principle' may be helpful in keeping law & order and 'social improvement', but one should go beyond this subtle ego to know the I . The opposite of EGO is, not humbleness, but to be present here and now, i.e. the watchful state. Or more easier way is- to get attached with FORMLESS being or with awareness itself, or the background where these phenomena are occurring. In spirituality, there are two ways to know the truth (I am). One is be watchful with the impermanence nature of FORM and experience the ANATTA (essence of Buddha's teaching and now a days Goenka and Adyashanti teaches the path). If all the FORMs get shattered down what remains is the pure consciousness. It is the way of meditation. The another is- to be attached with the FORMLESS being within and surrender to it. Gradually, the FORMLESS essence comes forward dissolving the FORM. It is the way of devotion(the essence of Nanak and Kabir). Osho has wonderfully guided the seekers by both ways.


I feel easy to be attached with the AWARENESS itself, but many time the FORM steals me away. A funny game of hide and seek...


What are your observation? In which way you fit?

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  1. I really like your explanation here. I am in a bit of an EGO crisis right now, so this was really good to read. I need to be in present and practice ANATTA. Thank you for this insightful post.

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  3. Great post!,

    I'll be visiting your blog frequently.

  4. Great post! I Liked the way you have tried to analyze the term 'ego'.

    In fact, ego is essentially "the will to receive pleasure". having a will to receive pleasure is not anyway wrong but, the debatable point is "intention for which we use this desire". We inherit our "ambitious nature" since birth as such, we often associate pride with "I". If we could receive pleasure "through giving to others" rather than "acquiring something from others", probably, we would be more "pleased" or satisfied.

    You suggest in your post about the rationale of "continue to enjoy with our possessions by knowing their true weight". But, the concept of "true weight" varies! "giving away pleasures to others" is something important however, this isn't the usual thought of "giving" as we perceive it through our senses. rather, it involves acquiring a new sense, a new intention, i.e. a constant state of conferment!

    Thanks for a refreshing post. cheers!

  5. Hello,
    Thank you for your sharing. Ya! the ego is messy term indeed and delicate too.

  6. This post helped me to understand my own ego in depth.

    I think there is only one way to get rid of it, that is, to accept it and be authentic/honest to one self.

    Knowing and accepting that 'I have ego' and watching self ego with total acceptance may help to transcend it.

  7. Due to a sequence of events, I have been watching my ego closely for the last two weeks. Oh has many of the illnesses you have described here. I note the suffering that comes with the ego. I am hoping to make peace with it through meditation.

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  10. @Dilipjee,
    Nice observation indeed!
    However, in words watching/acceptance, ego sometimes creates own story to enhance itself (I assume you didnot mean that one). I myself found victim of ego many times in story of 'acceptance'. Let us be authentic whether our 'watching/acceptance' fuels the ego or weakens it. Yes, only through practice/experiment with alert we identify its quality.

    @ Evelyn - Nice to hear you here. best wishes for your meditation!