What is the Ego? Should it Be Destroyed?
Article by Aletheia Luna from Loner Wolf
Copyright © 2012 - 2022 LonerWolf.com.
In almost every nook and cranny of the spiritual field, you’ll hear the ego spoken about with contempt and sometimes it is plain demonized.
Many people carry the belief that the ego needs to be destroyed, muzzled, or even killed.
But do we need to destroy the ego? What is the ego, really? And furthermore, what can you learn about your own ego?
What is the Ego?
The ego is basically your identity, or who you think you are.
In other words, your ego is usually constructed of a name, a personality, and a story. Within this personal story is a collection of memories, beliefs, ideas, and sensations about “who you are,” “where you came from,” “what you’re good and bad at,” “what you’ve experienced,” and on, and on, and on, ad infinitum.
In the words of renowned spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle,
Ego is no more than this: identification with form, which primarily means thought forms.
When we identify with a thought or story in our head, the substance of the ego is born.
How Is the Ego Formed?
The ego is a veil between what you think you are and what you actually are. You live under the illusion of the mind, totally unaware that you are directed by a great big load of stories! — Isira Sananda
There are three main causes of our ego formation:
First is primal protection.
Without an ego, without being able to say “this is me” and “this isn’t me” how can we possibly stay alive?
For example, if you had no sense of self, there would be nothing stopping you from drowning, getting hit by a car, getting eaten by an animal, having a limb severed, and so forth. There would be no capacity to differentiate yourself from a bus, a knife, a lake, a road, and so on!
To protect ourselves, we need a sense of self or ego.
“But what about enlightened folk?” you may wonder. “They don’t need a sense of self and look how blissful they are!”
Here, the distinction needs to be made in the sense that those who experience spiritual enlightenment don’t lose their ego, they simply stop identifying with it. No ego at all would mean no ability to stay alive!
Second is our social conditioning.
Since childhood, we’re taught that we’re “separate” from others and life itself.
As we grow up, we’re taught to believe in and identify with the thoughts that run through our heads by those who model this behavior around us. We’re also taught to almost automatically adopt our family’s belief system and values, as well as society’s wider definition of “who we are” or “should be.”