Arpana offers some reflections on what is thought by many to be ‘the enemy’ of spiritual growth…
It seems to me that ego is made up of all those unconscious ideas any given individual has about themselves which make him/her believe they are set apart from the rest of humanity, in a very special way; which can be positive or negative.
Further, for example, I for years believed to say anything positive about myself/oneself was egotistical; and then some individuals have egos based on their negative ideas about themselves, although this is uncommon in my experience; then others, so many, see themselves as victims, their egos are connected to their sense of victimhood; although of course there are real victims rather than ‘glass is half empty’ victims.
Seems to me, ego resides in that place between how any given individual sees him/herself and what they actually are, and so the bigger the gap between those two, the harder work the individual has to deal with. (So, for example, someone who believes him/herself to be exceptionally talented, and is the opposite, is hard work, but equally, someone who is exceptionally talented and believes him/herself to be talentless is also hard work, although differently so).
Seeing ego in others seems pretty common, accompanied by blissful unawareness of that state in the perceiver, and in fact they are, in my experience, those with the biggest egos; regardless of whether they are sannyasins or not, meditators or not; as they have yet to reach that liberating place where they realise there is nothing special about ego and no need to make so much fuss about it.
But, occasionally, when I come across someone who is monstrously self-important I realise that is ego at its worst, although I generally don’t use the word much, and try to avoid such people.
I regularly heard Osho over the years talk about dropping the ego, but haven’t heard him say that for a long time, which I assume indicates the issue has become a non-issue for me these days. Yet I came to wonder if what he meant by dropping the ego was to stop making so much fuss about it; because by doing so ego seems much more important than it is. And then I have definitely come across individuals who are so unconscious they have a big head about not having a big head.
Personally, I see ego as a ladder to be climbed, the meditation journey if you will, and the only ego problem there is, is remaining stuck in an ego place, as it’s the clinging which is the cause of personal misery, and also makes the lives of others a misery.
Hence the need to constantly move into ever more refined states of ego, which actually can be very painful, as this usually involves the end of certainly some relationships, in my experience, and not just with other individuals. For example, regarding the latter, I had a relationship with a local art centre to which I became very attached, unwittingly, where I had a studio in which I painted, but I outgrew the situation and, believe you me, I floundered for a while, almost as badly as after Poona 1.
Moving on, in my opinion, can’t happen without the help of meditation – and then some obviously develop ego about meditating, if they don’t stick at it, hence it’s very helpful to have a master working with you, and on you; through you even, and to keep meditating until you just can’t any more!!
I’ve wondered if Osho works on those who come to him, to get them moving and keep them moving, in conjunction with meditation and working on themselves in other ways, rather than working to get people to that fixed place which is referred to as “enlightened” ..