You don’t want to get me started on how people drive, especially in Ottawa! I tend to be one of those drivers that does everything perfectly…it’s the other drivers that don’t know what they’re doing and should get out of my way:). I give driving lessons everyday. Other people just can’t hear my thoughts:)
There is this aspect to us that drives an inner monologue within us. It’s called the ego. Classically the ego has been that which some strive to get beyond. The reason being is that the ego creates a fantasy of control and safety and this has its limitations.
Having personally experienced beyond ego, I agree with many who have had similar experiences, that there is much more to the human experience than what the world of ego provides us with; a richer, more meaningful life experience, one in which we can more fully align with higher purpose and values.
I believe that the more of us that strive to live beyond their ego, the more we are pushing the evolution of the species. There is a field of potential and possibility that is being created every time we purposefully reach beyond our lesser selves.
Sociobiologist, E. O. Wilson has said that as a species, we have paleolithic brains and emotions, medieval institutions and god-like techonologies. I believe that as we strive beyond ego individually and collectively, we are evolving our brains and emotions.
Ego is all about protecting us from danger. This can be physical danger or mental. If changing my beliefs is threatening to me then my ego will make sure I hold fast to my old beliefs (even though they might be outdated).
Culturally ego has become about survival in a 3-Dimensional reality. Some of the cultural institutions that take advantage of ego are social media companies. Just like the food industry is striving for new ways of delivering the addictive trifecta of salt/sugar/fat, so too the social media companies are continually exploring the science of the addictive trifecta of amusement, ego and narcissism.
This is why when we’re scrolling on our social media feeds or listening to the news, inflaming us is disguised as informing us.
The values of ego are aligned with protection and safety. In this, the ego is not all bad. It does keep us safe so that we can continue to live and hopefully enjoy our lives. However, as many of you have probably experienced in your own lives, sometimes the most exciting, thrilling, fun, memorable, life-worthy moments are also somewhat dangerous, unpredictable, out of the ordinary and spontaneous.
The “higher” values of life that have been talked about by philosophers from many cultures in history, are values not of the ego, but of the spirit. Without getting into philosophical or religious explorations here, I will say that I’m defining spirit as that which is beyond ego.
Some people that I’ve talked to over the years seem to have an approach to life where they want to eradicate ego in their lives. They almost demonize the ego as the source of evil, temptation etc. I would say that we need the ego in order to survive. If a car is coming at me on the street, I don’t want to be thinking about the quantum fluctuations of my molecules; I want to get out the way!
Bypassing the ego can elicit wondrous experiences however they tend to be short-lived and it’s more challenging to integrate those wondrous experiences into our daily lives. The only way that I see going is moving through the ego to what lies beyond.
Ken Wilber talks about this with the pre/trans fallacy. We want to transcend the ego and include it in our experience of life.
In other words, we may want the heart (seat of spirit) to be in the driver’s seat, but it’s good to have the ego along for the ride as well (maybe riding shotgun?)
A really good commentary on ego and spirit can be found here.
On November 25/26, we are presenting the Align Adventure. This is a program that is designed to help people navigate their relationship with ego and spirit, to be able to have both spirit and ego aligning together to help us live more healthy, loving and purposeful lives. If you feel called to join us, please click this link here for more information.