Friday, January 4, 2019

Where does the idea that we have to eliminate ego come from?

Recently, I read an in-depth interview with the Zen teacher, Norman Fischer, in an old issue of THE SUN (August 2018). Most of what he said felt deeply wise to me. But what caught my eye was the title of the article: "Our Grand Delusion: Norman Fischer on the Tyranny of the Self." 

I realize that, in the case of most publications, the person who writes the article doesn't necessarily write the headline, and that is probably the case here, because the title didn't seem to represent the content very well. This disparity, however, only helps makes my point: for those involved in Eastern spirituality, the "ego" or "self" is seen as the bad guy. Norman Fischer may not see it that way, but whoever wrote the title assumed it to be true.

Recently I came across an on-line article that discusses this issue in depth:  (May 14, 2017).
As the title implies, the author discusses the problems with trying to get rid of the ego. Can we ever really do this? Or is it more realistic, and likely to produce a better outcome, to face the ego and all that it contains -- all that we think of as the "me"? 
Clearly, the author thinks the latter approach is better, and I agree.  But I do wonder about the author's idea -- a generally held one -- that we are taught that ego is bad. I'm not sure it's that simple. Surely, there is an element of that not only in Eastern spirituality but also in the teachings of Western religion and culture: "Remember: be good and share with your sister."  But  I wonder if there is not already an innate conflict that grows out of being born human. Maybe there is an innate knowledge, or at least suspicion, that we are not really separate, that separation is an illusion. The ego comes to represent that illusion because it is seen as the emblem of the separate self.
Indeed, the job of the ego is to protect the separate self. But the resolution to the dilemma is not to get rid of ego (if that is even possible) but to realize that the self is not really separate. The ego can go ahead and do its job on one level, but on the deeper, truer level, there is no separate self. 


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I love to get comments from readers who want to mutually explore Truth as we at the same time remember that the words are just fingers pointing...