Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A New Earth -- Ego: The Current State of Humanity

Jenn's thoughts and learnings from the second week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

I have been absolutely loving Eckhart Tolle's presence in the weekly A New Earth webinar. He is so gentle, aware, on message even when Oprah is dancing about. I'm finding him absolutely inspirational. This chapter is a really great introduction to the concept of disconnecting from ego, and is definitely the reminder I need right now. Thank you life for providing it for my evolution!

Eckhart's short definition of ego is that it is a false sense of self based on mental concepts, i.e. thoughts. The truth of Who You Really Are is the formless awareness that is at the back of all of your thoughts. When you think about "who I am" the ego is the "I" that thinks of itself as "me and my story," but the true "I" is the awareness, the observer.

I had quite a few Aha! moments surrounding this idea while watching him speak. What I was most struck by was about the strength of the ego. We tend to think of someone with a strong ego as someone with an overinflated sense of self, someone who thinks very highly of herself. So typically it would be someone who is very caught up in being beautiful, smart, sexy, popular, successful, wealthy, etc. The thing is that ego strength isn't about the qualities that the individual is identifying with, it's about how much she is identifying with them. So someone who thinks of herself as being miserable, unhappy, sick, broke, traumatized, etc. can have an equally strong ego (or more so) if that is how she is choosing to define herself. Do you know anyone who has told you their same story many times, all about how they were abused or mistreated, how hard life is, how much they've always had the short end of the stick? That person's ego is strong because their identification with their story is so strong.

But your story is just your story. It is not Who You Really Are. Your ego is incredibly invested in you staying stuck in your story, keeping you in the smallness that that story creates. It cannot survive without its identification. In fact, often when you start to slough off the ego what happens is that you identify with being special or enlightened or whatnot. This is just another place for the ego to grab onto and is a slippery slope for anyone seeking to uncover the truth of who they are.

Take a minute to think about all of the ways you define yourself. I am spiritual, a woman, a Scorpio, a Californian, a wife, a daughter, a perfectionist, a vegetarian, a renter, a former Project Manager, a former Practitioner, between jobs. But do any of these so-called definitions really get at the core of who I am? No. They have more to do with the choices I have made so far in life and with the roles I play. There is nothing wrong with making choices, having thoughts, fulfilling roles, having opinions--it's when we identify with them, define ourselves by them that we lose sight of the big picture of life. What do you do when something happens in your life that forces those definitions to shift, if you were to get laid off from your job, or your house were in the path of a natural disaster? Does that affect Who You Really Are? Again, no. Your selfness is still there at the core of your being. Nothing can take that away from you.

The more you can become aware of the ways you are identifying with your thoughts, your things, your roles, your beliefs, the more you can create a space around yourself, some literal breathing room. Because nothing helps you to see the real you, the observer, faster than just taking a deep breath, paying attention, pulling yourself into the present moment, becoming aware of the aliveness inside of you, your breath, your essence, your being. This is Who You Really Are. You are changeless, you are vibrant, you are beautiful and wonderful and magnificent. Bring your attention back here whenever you can, and you will not only find peace, but you will begin to embody that peace inside and out. Namaste.

Photo: "CHERRY BLOSSOMS," originally uploaded by Jun

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