It’s common to hear people on the “spiritual path” talk about overcoming the ego. Let’s consider the ego here. Is the ego really the problem? Is it really the barrier to what so many of us are looking for?
Yes, it is.
I’ve heard advice that we should befriend the ego, that it actually has our best interests at heart and only wants to protect us, though it may go about this in a dysfunctional way. I believe this is very much false. The ego despises and fears me, and does not want to protect me at all but wants to protect itself — from me. Why is this so?
Because if I am then the ego is eradicated. I, as I truly am, and the ego cannot coexist; one or the other of us is. I, as I truly am, am the light; the ego is a choice for illusion, an illusion of separation, judgment, hatred, and fear.
There is, in reality, only light which is pure love. Whatever is not this is, really, not — it is false. If we make the choice for light then whatever is not light is gone; not because it was cast out but because it was never there to begin with, and light has illuminated the shadow and now we see that nothing real was ever there.
We’re children in a darkened room when the light is suddenly turned on, and we see for ourselves that our personal horror story about what was there in darkness was entirely wrong — and that we were ultimately scaring the hell out of ourselves through our false narrative.
The ego is not something that attacks us from the outside, it’s not an invading force; it is our creation and we choose to hold on to it. We have the power at any moment to let it go, but this requires we see not only that it is false but also extremely hurtful. Now consider the ego’s primary strategy to prevent us from ever ever taking a close look at it — a strategy that we, as the ego’s creator, built into it:
The problem and the solution are within the world.
Listen to your inner mental stream, and take note of how it regularly directs your attention out into the world; take note of how it negatively judges things within the world and also take note of how often it blames worldly things — people in particular — for your distress and dis-ease. The ego’s modus operandi is to time and again say ‘Look out there. Look out there. If that (person, event, circumstance) in the world would only change then we’d have peace. Look out there. Look out there.’
The voice for light is mostly silent but when it does speak it does not negatively draw our attention into the world, it does not cast negative judgments into the world, and it does not blame the external for our lack of peace. It does, through some means or another, direct our attention inward and say, in effect, here is the problem. Why does the ego, in contrast, want us to look out?
Because if we should look in we will see two things: the light of being, and the ego itself and in the process cast our internal light upon it. Either outcome means the ego is no more, at least in that moment. This is why the ego wants us to look out and why the ego, rightly so, considers us the greatest threat to its existence.
Observing the ego’s directives to look out is, in fact, observing the ego itself. So if you’re looking to let go of, or be free of, the ego simply observing it is a crucial first step.