Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Polaris Material Digest: A Focus On Ego

Polaris Material Digest
A Focus On Ego

Question: I'd like to ask about the ego, especially about how the word is used in our culture—it's often made out to be an enemy, something to be extinguished. It seems that there is such a thing, and it is related to barriers and limitations to awareness. I'm wondering how to bridge the gap; I have a negative reaction to the term. Could you expand on it? Also, many people wish to extinguish the ego to obtain enlightenment. What's the benefit to that?

Let us explain the ego as we see it. As you may have noticed, we seldom use the term "ego". It has its roots in the English language in the psychological studies that were done about 100 years ago in western psychology and philosophy. There is quite an emotional attachment to the word, and there is also an attachment to the entire didactic system of philosophy/psychology that was developed at that time. In other words, use of the term "ego" tends to evoke the intellectual, theoretical, and the teacher/student dynamic; the teacher has all the power and the knowledge, and the student is the one who being "fixed", manipulated, or is learning from the "teacher".

This is a term we prefer not to use. However, in the work of Eckhart Tolle we see that this term has a much broader meaning, and that is fine! It can be difficult for the individual, however, to apply that broader meaning and to maintain the sense of it within the more narrow scope of connotation that the word evokes.

In terms of extinguishing what we feel is meant by the ego in order to attain enlightenment, what we feel is meant by this term ego, this broader sense, is simply conscious awareness of Self. This is also what has been termed in the Michael Teachings as "personality"; you can think of those two terms along the same lines. Ego is the conscious awareness of Self.

To attain enlightenment by extinguishing the ego would connote that enlightenment is attained only by awareness of All That Is, rather than by the perceived limitations of Self, however far the Self extends. In many ways this is consistent with our view of "enlightenment": it is a momentary conscious awareness of the interconnection and oneness of everything, of All That Is, including Self. In other words, enlightenment is about turning the notion of Self inside out.

However, we do not see this as a state that people are necessarily capable of maintaining for more than a fragmentary flash. Having done so at one time, however, allows you to make your way back to that moment energetically and to bring a sense of that awareness into your everyday life. There is some validity and truth to the notion that "extinguishing ego leads to enlightenment." However, using those words has a negative connotation. They imply that conscious awareness of Self is somehow a negative thing and therefore must be erased.

In our view, even though it can be useful to have those momentary, fragmentary awarenesses of the oneness of everything, it is more useful to simply give as much attention as you can possibly muster into whatever is happening to you at any given moment. In other words, being fully present in your body—in the space around you, in the world around you, in the situation you are in, in the emotion you are feeling—is more easily obtainable and more likely to bring vast changes in you and how you experience life joyfully.

In other words, being immersed in the moment, as much as you can be, is an easy way to bring joy to your life.