The 3 Aspects of Ego

Posted on October 4, 2011

The ego has two very positive aspects, the Ego of Aspiration and the Ego of the Sage. They must be used to overcome the third, the Ego of Suffering.

The root cause of the ego of suffering is fundamental ignorance. It is the delusion that, “I am this body, this mortal personality. Happiness comes from enhancing myself.” This view creates the afflictions of egoism, attachment, hatred, and fear of death.

The Ego of Suffering does not have your best interests in mind. Quite to the contrary. It only wants to enhance itself, and by that you are entangled in a merciless net of pain of your own making. This ego is a tyrant that takes you over and holds you prisoner.

At the same time it is incurably insecure, because its existence is not based on reality. It is a fabrication of confused, self-centered thoughts, only concerned about its own maintenance, the continuation of its delusion.

The emotional part of this ego is knows as the pain body, the way you unconsciously cling to pain. To put it into words, you have a hidden belief, “I am this person who is used to a certain amount of suffering. That’s who I am.” And to maintain this identity you unconsciously sabotage your happiness and bring pain to you.

Although we like to believe that we are victims of an uncaring world, the truth is that all our suffering comes from the way we unconsciously incapacitate ourselves. This is why the ego of suffering needs to be rooted out.

To do this is the job of the Ego of Aspiration. Everyone knows it already first hand. You have experienced it in moments of deep peace, of unconditional love, or during flashes of great happiness. Although most people miss their true meaning, these incidences point out to you what you really are. They are sign-posts that say, “Come here, this is the way to yourself. You ARE this happiness!” But few stop long enough to read the signs.

The Ego of Aspiration enables you to translate your higher yearning into action, “I want to know my Self. I want to follow the glimpses I had of it, and realize the full unfolding of my inner potential.” This impulse enables you to engage in a spiritual practice and to connect with teachers and like-minded friends.

Then, as the Ego of the Sage develops through direct experience of the Self, you become increasingly unshakable in your orientation to liberation. This is true faith, which is not mere belief, but authentic knowledge of the shining wisdom of the Self and the profound and unlimited love in your heart.

But the Ego of Suffering will not simply give up and go away because you’ve had a spiritual impulse. Tyrants don’t give up so easily. They become bigger and more intimidating when we question their power.

You know how that works. You make a decision to mediate every day and suddenly all kinds of things get in the way. Distractions, demands on your time, laziness, discouraging thoughts are suddenly in your face. This is the secret art of self-sabotage. It’s alive in all of us.

The Ego of Suffering is depicted as a great demon in all the mythologies of the world. It puts up a hell of a fight, it terrorizes and tortures you. And in the end the demon loses. It must lose, because this is the way of it. Illusion can hold us prisoner for a long time, but it cannot win. Inevitably, if you follow the spiritual impulse with patience and determination, this gross ego dissolves.

Inevitably you become free. Inevitably you come to realize what in reality you already are. Inevitably, as the ego-sense dissolves, all that is good, auspicious and beautiful begins to manifest through the personality. I like that word: inevitably!


with love,

Ram Giri

Skills for Awakening

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