February 2nd, 2012
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Ego- dealing with it

ego

The goal of the Human way of life is liberation. Once a Sufi saint was speaking, and he suddenly asked the question, “What are you to be liberated from?” After a few moments he answered his own question with one word: “Your self.”

This is a teaching that is difficult for most of us to grasp, because we think that the ego is going to experience liberation, whereas the truth is that we already are what we are seeking. “That thou art”, the scriptures declare. Our need is to be liberated from who we think we are. How is this to be brought about?

The saint said, “Kill this little ‘I’. Die to live. Lead the Divine Life.” Scriptures speak of ego death. But is this imagery one hundred per cent correct? There is no question that it is necessary for a reversal in our normal way of thinking, which is that we, the ego, are going to achieve liberation. But there is another imagery taught in the human way of life, and that is that as long we are in the body, we need some ego, and they have likened it to a burned-out rope. It still looks like a rope, but it can’t bind anything.

The ego is actually a very useful tool. It is what allows the human being to reason, to compare. This can only be done by objectifying objects. In a no-mind state where the ego disappears, objects are there, but you can’t objectify them to compare and to reason in the same way. Therefore, the ego is created by the mind to objectify objects and that makes reasoning possible. It is the subject; every thing else is the object. As such it is a very useful tool.

Unfortunately we have identified with this tool, and it has become not only our identity but our master. The purpose of our spiritual life is not necessarily that we dispose of the tool altogether so that it no longer exists, but rather that we see the tool as a tool. We say my ego. It means that the ego belongs to us. It is not what we are. The challenge of the spiritual life is to recognize this subtle separation and not to lose that recognition.

We are meant to use this subject-object relationship that illusion has created as a tool for our evolution. Therefore, while the seer may have used such dramatic language as kill this little I, die to live, ultimately killing this little ‘I’ means that we see it for what it is, a useful tool, but a dreadful master.

 



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