Shanti’s tongue-in-cheek guide for the ego.
“Ego”: I hardly know what it is and that is understandable, because both the mystics, those who have a good look ‘inside’, and the physicists, those who have a good look ‘outside’, are telling us the same story: that it is non-existent. So please forgive me that I don’t turn up here, as a starter, with a clear-cut definition of a non-existing something, but…
The Ego, to survive,
In many ways
we have to nourish
…OK, let me give it a try! Ego is the feeling of being an independent, autonomous entity, separate from the whole. Something like a glacier might feel, before the sun melts the ice, or like a river, before the waters flow back again into the ocean, from where they originated.
By the way: did you ever take a rope for a snake, or a cloud for a face? Yes, the rope was there and so was the cloud, but both the snake and the face were non-existent, in the same sense as the ego is not. Yes, you are there, in your full glory, but the feeling that you are a crystallized “ego”, standing loose and apart from the whole, is illusory.
But as long as you imagined the rope to be a snake, that animal certainly had a reality of its own. That ‘monster’ even managed to make you sweat and scream like hell. Although the rope you mistakenly took for a snake couldn’t really bite you, it could even frighten you to death! The same is true about our existence as an ego: it feels so self-evident! No wonder that so many of us believe in its existence, no matter what mystics and physicists tell us about its non-existence.
Unlike the monsters in the fairy tales or the God in the Old Testament, the ego doesn’t ask us for a virgin for lunch or the killing of our beloved son as evidence of our obedience. But to survive it certainly needs our cooperation. In many ways we have to nourish and support this illusion. So although neither the snake nor the ego is really out there, let’s have a look at what are the do’s which help us to maintain and feed this illusion, and what are the don’ts which support us not to become aware of our mistake.
Ego is the feeling
of being an independent,
separate from the whole.
As anyone who has ever had a moment, once in a while, of watching and witnessing this ego, I do have a bit of experience and a tiny little bit of understanding about what we can do, and what we better don’t do, in order to nourish and energize it. So if you can be so kind to forgive me that I can’t give you a most perfect definition of the stuff I am talking about, maybe we can have a look together into the do‘s and don’ts about this ‘thing’, into how we are nourishing and energizing it.
I will mention here the do’s and don’ts I am aware of and doing so, I am sure, you will recognize what I am talking about. Please be so kind to add your own observations, because we are all specialists in this field. I think it is important that we have a clear and inclusive picture of the many ways we can support our illusion, because these days are hard on the ego!
There is a lot of talking about surrendering it, letting-go of it, even killing it! Spiritual terrorism? We need the ego so desperately in order to survive in this ‘struggle for life’, in the outside world, don’t we? So let’s get together and support each other in saving it. Join the Ego-Support-Group! But we can miss it like toothache in the inside world, don’t we? Does that make my message sound paradoxical? I hope so!
Let me share with you my tips and pointers of today:
• Always go upstream. Never go with the flow of life. Easy is wrong! Never surrender to what is natural. Never say “Amen” to reality, affirming ‘OK, that’s the way my life is today’.
• Stay miles away from loving and embracing, not to mention celebrating yourself.
• Go against the winds too; don’t let yourself be carried by them.
• Always have your own agenda. Whatever your plans are, take good care that they don’t fit into the nature of things. Make sure there are always enough frictions between you and whatever or whoever is available. If nothing or nobody is there in your way to bother you, immediately change directions until you are heading again for a collision.
• Go for friction as much as and wherever you can create it. Don‘t go with the flow of things. Start at home: fight the natural and innocent tendencies of your body, the tendency for shelter and comfort, for food, for sexual pleasure and especially the one for love and intimacy. Fight your feelings, condemn them. Fight both your tears and your laughter, your sadness and your joy.
• Go on and on desiring to be somebody else: never accept your toes or your nose or yourself the way you are. Fight your reality and create an ideal image, a super-you and go for it. Never even think about celebrating the one you are already!
• Be unnatural. Go for an ideal model, worldly or other-worldly. Go for a lifelong fast, become a celibate or a brahmacharya, but don’t be ordinary. Look holy. Try to be like Jesus, like Buddha or like Mother Theresa.
• Search for confrontations. Don’t miss even the slightest opportunity to criticize anyone for wearing the wrong shoes, the wrong dress or the wrong tie, for cherishing the wrong values or saying the wrong word or the right word wrongly. In any discussion, be obstructive. Avoid the many points you and your partner agree upon and focus on the ones the two of you value differently, even if they are of minor importance.
• Be indignant about other people’s behaviour, about any mistake they make, about their values and about their morality in particular. Let everyone know how different from them and how much better you are, how superior and highly elevated above them, how immaculate in comparison to their dirty face and how glad you are that you are “not like them”.
• If you can’t find anything or anyone in your way, or if this takes too much time, ruminate your past and start fighting again and over and over again in your imagination with any situation or figure which might have ever been bothering you. In case you prefer to use the future for this purpose, that is up to you; go ahead, your opportunities are endless!
• Be competitive. Be the first one in the world. Go for gold. Don’t miss any opportunity for whatever form of arm-wrestling. Always imagine yourself to be the stronger man or woman, the better lover, the more intelligent and the superior one. If reality beats your imagination, change your strategy and cherish your self-pity, indulge in your feelings of inferiority, of being a weakling, a misfit. So, fight and never give in, but in case you have to, be the topmost and most humble loser. Cherish your misery and don’t feel happy: never surrender to happiness.
• Never stop comparing yourself with other people. It doesn’t matter so much if this practice will make you feel superior or inferior. That is peanuts! Any result will help immensely to allow you to crystallize into a ‘Glorious Me’ or a ‘Poor Me’, but anyway into a ‘ME’. It is the ME that matters!
• So if you can’t manage to be a great success, take good care to be a great failure, because in both cases YOU will be noticed. Always avoid being a nobody, because that will be the death of the ego.
• Be arrogant; inflate your chest and yourself like a balloon. In every possible way try to look bigger, smarter, richer and more powerful than you really are.
• Behave SIC: be Showy, Intrusive and Clamorous. Make a lot of noise, especially when there are other people around who might hear you. Let them know you are there, attract their attention, force them to look at you. Leave your footprints or your graffiti wherever you go and let everyone know YOU have been there.
• Be 24/7 on guard. Don’t trust people. Always remember to keep a safe distance, because anyone is a potential danger and might want to harm you or to profit from you one day. Be contemptuous and humiliating, aggressive and violent. Lift yourself up by putting other people down. Avoid empathy. Avoid to be loving and understanding.
• You want all this condensed in just one maxim? Do whatever you are doing and let this feeling crystallize in you, that you are the do-er. Don’t be just a witness to what you are doing, like a watcher on the hill or like someone near the beach, watching the waves coming in and moving back again into the ocean.
• Avoid love and acceptance, guys like Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu and above all, stay away from Osho. Don’t open even one of his 600 books neither Osho News, except for this article! Never listen to one of his discourses and above all: never do any of his meditations! His bucket of ice-cold water might wake you up from this dream of being an ego, as he promised to do. If you give him one finger, he will keep his word in his own loving, sneaky and seductive way, so watch out and never come too close to him: he will grab you!
Shanti is Osho’s sannyasin for more than 35 years. A psychology teacher by profession, he translated the books of Roberto Assagioli and introduced ‘Psychosynthesis’ in Holland. He gave numerous workshops on witnessing and accepting sub-personalities. Later he was trained by Dr Edward de Bono in ‘Thinking Skills’ and worked as a management trainer. Nowadays he enjoys writing a book, The ‘Chronicle of the Earth’, the history of our planet from the Big Bang up to Now.
Illustration by Osho News