The ego is an interesting thing. You have one. I have one. Yet it only exists as much as WordPress (the blog software I’m using) exists, and in much the same kind of way. The ego is part of the software of the mind, constructed by the mind. It is reinforced from an incredibly early age, but I is not the first thing that comes out of a child’s mouth. “Juice” was my first’s first word. And programming, as much as almost all of it is done is with words. The point though isn’t about words, the point is about ego.
The sense of I arises out of a sense of separation. And the world of form certainly gives aids in this illusion. Those of us who see, see objects all around. It is not difficult to believe that they’re separate and for us to believe that we’re separate as well. Refining distinctions is how we make sense of the world, and how we master our experience of it. (Note I didn’t say master the world. That’s too arrogant an assumption for my small brain.) And understandably we infer that we are also separate beings. But it’s a trick, an illusion created by our brains, to aid in the survival of the DNA. Yet, here is the very first sense of suffering. The creation of the ego in the mind is the beginning of suffering.
Armed with images, sounds and words, the mind starts to build a view of itself. Everything it sees has qualities. It’s this colour or that, large or small, good or bad, hungry or replete. And so it begins to describe itself, aided of course by its unwitting parents. Some would also add that tendencies from previous rebirths get thrown into the mix as well, but for many that’s moot so I won’t dwell on it. And the now the ego begins to cling to qualities to affirm itself in the world.
But no list of qualities is complete. There is always something missing. No matter how much the mind, perceiving itself as an ego, tries to add to itself, refine itself, it is never good enough. But the mind clings to this ego and stubbornly continues to believe that perfection must be possible. And here is the struggle and the cause of all of the rest of the suffering. Perfection is not possible, not in this limited sense.
And every time the mind perceiving itself as an ego thinks it has things worked out, along comes change and smacks the poor ego and says “not this time.” So the mind as ego suffers and then adapts to the new circumstances.
Yet all along the ego never really existed. It all started with a misunderstanding, misidentification with the world of objects, the world of how things appear to be, not how things are. The mind is not some identity.
And there we have it, my interpretation of the world of being:- imperfection, no identity, and impermanence. What an incredible joke that we have seen ourselves this way, and what a tragedy that we have had to endure so much suffering.
Our pure awareness, holy God, creator and destroyer of all that is, may I return to your bosom and know myself as nothing at all.