The ego is a mental construct, a pseudo entity characterized by a boundless inability to empathize, which thrives on obsessive thought and shrivels in the light of observation, of consciousness. Ego is terrified by the thought of extinction and invents elaborate strategies toward safety: domination, superiority, violence, judgment. The non-pseudo self is accessible through presence, indeed is presence, non-verbal being, consciousness, where “safety” is felt/known in the recognition of absolute interconnection, where identification shifts from ego to essence, and empathy in the broadest possible sense is a given.
I am in the process of archiving my paintings, political cartoons and songs… and approaching some writing projects, seeing time as limited and wanting to sort things out… this is a kind of reconciling with death, with a limited life span, feeling a need to tidy up. On a more personal level I have changed (not eliminated… yet), as I have become aware of it, competitive, negative behavior in my relations with others and in my head. When I experience anger I am less likely to believe it, to act out. I am sometimes instead, the observer.
I tend to see what is difficult to change about myself a result of habit, years of “practice” behind the behavior so that changing it requires focused attention and awareness… specifically the mind-chatter behavior… my mind just runs constantly, habitually, and I find Tolle’s analysis that this is the root of dysfunction, persuasive, this is how the ego stays alive… and this is the beginning of consciousness when we become aware of our ego at work.
I basically come out of a leftist, materialist, existentialist stance. I had thought that the existentialist ‘level’ was it – the world is ultimately unknowable, we find ourselves in this scary, vulnerable situation for some chancy unpredictable length of time and something eventually gets us, we die. I had dismissed my inherited religion earlier as so much wishful thinking and superstition. The optimum strategy came to me from Sartre, to be creative and take courage in the face of death and meaninglessness. He spoke at the United Nations once leaving a simple message:
- Learn to think clearly
- Think clearly about good and evil
- Do good
So discovering something outside that ‘level’ surprised me, namely that we are not separate, as existentialism assumes. This came through experiencing being and feeling the connection called ONEness. At first I understood the second of Beyond War’s two precepts – War is Obsolete and We Are One, as referring to human beings as one species on one planet, that we need to expand our identification beyond just one nation to the whole human family to avoid extinction.
Eventually I saw the expansion of this to all life, then to all existence and finally to the primal consciousness or unified field of underlying reality. And Tolle’s refreshing clarity, to me, brought the exhilarating notion that the realization of enlightenment is not restricted to rare glimpses by rare individuals but is the natural state of being which we mask with egoic mind-chatter, the human dysfunction at the root of environmental degradation, injustice and war.