The Ego: Our first Creation

Note to Self:

The creation of the Ego is slow... it is enlightenment in reverse. For me it was putting up walls to hide myself from emotional pain. I created pain internally to feel empathy or to manufacture my own version of understanding (or empathy), and then later I would distance myself from it. For example I would see someone that is sad, and in empathy, trigger these physical feelings of sadness within myself. Does this mean I am feeling what they are feeling? No. Does this mean I really know exactly what is going on in their mind or heart? No. (but by creating an approximation of it, physiologically, within myself I would tell myself that I am being empathetic. Does this feeling that's triggered within me, help them? No. (They can't truly sense that I am feeling anything FOR them.) Gradually I forgot that I was the creator of these feelings, and then later I built a wall within myself to protect from these feelings. (I wanted to shut myself off from these feelings, that I forgot that I created in the first place!) Then by protecting myself and building these walls, I cut myself off from true compassion and true empathy and true connection.  

Does this mean I shouldn't be emotional? No, but where are the emotions coming from and why are they there? Is it from true empathy?..true compassion?...true understanding? (If anything, I feel more connected to my true emotions now.) I think it means also that I should be aware of my role. How can I truly help them? What can I actually do to help others? (I believe) actions, based in love can be helpful. ..even if it is just being truly present with them, and to hear and see their emotions and feelings (without clouding the atmosphere with my manufactured ones...that are usually related to me..NOT them.) 

I see the Ego as a defense mechanism to protect me from pain or things I just don't want to face (about myself).  With all the suffering I see in the world in the media it would be hard to function without ego..and yet I don't want to ever again get to a place where I am indifferent, or don't believe that the suffering I see in the world affects me (or us). 

I realized that this same defense that created a callous, incomplete view of my world also prevented me from seeing the true beauty of life. Not only had I created a wall that prevented me from feeling pain, but it also prevented me from feeling joy and happiness and connection. After all, if I was disconnected from myself, how I could I connect with anyone else?

I now see the "ego" (at least partly) as a defense of a perceived idea of self. I know now that as soon as I adopt an identity I begin the process of building the shadow, hiding parts of myself (in defense and creation of that identity). This hides my true self and also begins the process of "ego defense". My experience with anxiety tells me that this also manifests in the body as STRESS.  

To identify with something outside of mySelf IS the source of stress, whether it's materialism, desire, accomplishments, religious dogma, politics, sexuality, spiritualism... etc etc etc... If I seek to define myself by something outside myself I have noticed that I will eventually experience stress. Why? because then I have put myself in a position to defend my existence by how other people feel about something outside of me, that is NOT me.

If I analyze for my self the root causes of stress, they ultimately come back to defending this Ego, self interest or sense of self in some form. I don't think anyone is immune to this.. even Guru's, preachers, Shamans, yogis, the Pope, etc.. etc.. etc.. For me, it takes consistent, daily practice and self examination to feel that I am on the right path. 

Ultimately, I feel it is about learning to relax consistently too, and not allowing stress to build up.  By relaxing deeply, I feel that it's possible to let down these "ego defenses" (at least for a while) in order to see that I don't need them, and that they aren't really protecting me at all. In fact, they may actually be damaging the physical body with the resulting stress and blocking me from true insight.

From Journey of Awakening by Ram Dass:

“Your ego is a set of thoughts that define your universe. It’s like a familiar room built of thoughts; you see the universe through its windows. You are secure in it, but to the extent that you are afraid to venture outside, it has become a prison. Your ego has you conned. You believe you need its specific thoughts to survive. The ego controls you through your fear of loss of identity. To give up these thoughts, it seems, would eliminate you, so you cling to them.” It is not as though the parts of ourselves we identify as ego are unimportant or useless. Indeed, the thoughts, feelings, and traits we call ego help us to satisfy our desires and remain safe and secure in the world. However, when we identify our complete selves as ego, we make a dangerous mistake, for ego is only a shard of our boundless nature.
In our relationship with the world and with others, we tend to react from our ego, whose mission is to defend us from psychological threats. The ego thus views itself as “right,” and any entity that opposes it as “wrong.” This psychic polarization leads to internal and external conflict. As part of this process, which is fueled by well-intentioned lessons from our parents, teachers, and religious leaders, we “split off” parts of ourselves that society judges unacceptable. Our egos keeps us in line by repressing “unacceptable” sides of ourselves.

Just a personal note: There is nothing new under the sun. I am just attempting to present info. here that has helped me. I hope to present it in a clear way based on my experience with anxiety which was a spiritual, psychological and emotional awakening for me. In retrospect of this experience I have been reading as much as I could to come to a deeper and more grounded understanding of this seemingly mystical thing that happened to me (so that I could share it with you).  I'm not a doctor or a scientist.  Please know this is only my experience.  Yours will obviously be different, but since my experience was so similar to others I've talked to, I am hoping this may be helpful or useful to you in some way. It's also a way that I hope to share my love with you. That is my purpose here.

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