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I Against I: The Ego and the Concept of Self

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posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 01:36 PM
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Cogito Ergo Sum

I think, therefore I am.

However, somewhere after Descartes, the concept within this phrase took on a whole new life of it's own. Consciousness developed, and along with it, so did the Ego. In Western Society especially, the concept of the individual, or the sense of an "I" separate and distinct from one's society became enlarged unto the point where it has become a foreign concept to think of ourselves in any other context.

However, such has not always been, and this is not part of the Human Condition.

In other cultures throughout the world, there is little distinction between the individual and their society. To many Russians, for instance, it is equally as foreign of a concept to consider oneself as an individual as opposed to a single cog in a greater machine. Even most Africans consider themselves to be an extension of their tribe, living for the benefit of the whole instead of living for themselves.

Of course, in the West we call such things "Communistic". We spurn the notion that we aren't the center of the universe and everything that exists serves one purpose and one purpose alone, to serve the interests of Numero Uno..."Me, myself and I!"

The root of Selfishness, and apathy towards the plight of others, lies not in greed, as greed is just another bi-product of the same root cause. That root is a sense of "I" that is separate and distinct, an exaggerated sense of self that comes from the Ego.

Our Ego serves a very important role. It is the survival mechanism of our reptilian mind. Without it we would starve, we would not see danger where there is danger, we would no longer have an instinct to fight or flee.

However, the Ego is also self-preservationist in nature. It will exaggerate it's importance, and if left unchecked, will set itself up as the center of the Microcosm, tricking and seducing the rest of the mind into revolving around it, serving its interests instead of that of Reason.

What is it in our society that caters to the over-development of the Ego? In a way, you could say that Western Society has developed a Communal Ego that is self-preservationist in itself, and promotes the continued development of the individual Ego over that of Nationalism or a sense of Humanity to ensure it's predominance.

Why do Westerners live a life of excess?
Why do Westerners live without thought of consequence?
Why do Westerners live a life dominated by greed and selfishness?

Many of the world's religions have seen the Ego as a foe. (Even the 7 Deadly Sins from the Decalogue, or 10 Commandments can be considered manifestations of the Ego!) Although most of them wrongly pursue the course of attempting to destroy the Ego, which is not only an exercise in futility, but a fatalistic course of action. The more wiser of religions understand that the Ego cannot, and should not be destroyed, and instead seek to subjugate it to the Will (or Higher Will, or Divine Will) or to be subservient to Reason. However, such is accomplished on an individual basis, through individual effort, rather than on a sociological level.

Verily, the root of all Evil in the world can be surmised as manifestations of the Ego.

Perhaps it is time that we stop declaring war on one another and instead declare war on our respective Egos!

It may seem silly, but it's not like we don't already declare war on invisible foes. What do you think the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, Witchhunts, and TPTB are?

It is not a difficult concept to grasp, although it may be more difficult to enact in practice than in thought.

The best place to begin is to consciously stop using the word "I" in one's vocabulary!

There is much psychological power in the use of names, and referring to one's Ego as one's Self, is perhaps the most deceptively empowering tactics that the Ego has in it's arsenal to keep one enslaved to it! Just refusing to refer to one's Self, or one's Ego by it's name of "I" can do wonders to releasing the shackles that confine.

Give it a try, and you'll find it more difficult than you may think. However, if you succeed in doing such for an extended time, you'll find that your entire motivations in life begin to change dramatically. In the very least, one will finally find themselves Master over themselves, rather than enslaved to their Ego. However, one may also find a significant amount more Fluid Intelligence than before...being able to think outside of one's personal experiences, and being able to rely on the experiences of history and all who have lived, no matter how different or removed your Ego may make them seem to be from you.

There are terribly great secrets and wisdom in this. Take them as ye will and do with them as ye will.




posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 01:55 PM
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Another similar perspective:

What is me? Is it my name or my property? It is the one who is angry or happy? The self, as you probably pointed out in your long post which I merely skimmed through, is a collection of memories - a library of past events. If we begin to react to stimulus through this library (as most of us does), we are encumbered by the past and our reaction would suffer. If you cast aside the past that constitutes "I", you are left with nothing except your body. Only then you are free to truly see.

By preceding I mean only the psychological "I" which includes psychological fears, anxieties, desires and so on. We still have use memory in order to be able to communicate, avoid dangers and generally live rationally. But those psychological 'egos' that OP mentioned, are nothing but obstacles in the way of experiencing reality.


Originally posted by fraterormus
The best place to begin is to consciously stop using the word "I" in one's vocabulary!


Individual - in the meaning of the word - can use I, but when there are personas talking, maybe "we" would be more appropriate.

In depth post, thanks.

-v

[edit on 29-10-2009 by v01i0]



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 02:39 PM
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I have a better solution, live in equilibrium.

I don't believe one can see reality by disregarding the self as it is a part of reality. We are individuals living together in a group with individual wants, needs and desires. Those thing's need to be met as well as the needs of the group. I refuse to put aside my 'self' as it is a part of who I am and I value individuality above all else.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 04:13 PM
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One of the better written threads I have seen on ATS in a while. Very good point and some eye opening stuff about the egos role in different cultures. I have always thought it weird how deathly afraid the west is of communism. The idea has been treated like the plague yet if it wasn't run by tyrants, I think some if the ideals could solve a lot of the worlds problems.

Imagine a Tibetan monk was given command of the worlds resources or someone who was very connected to the spirit of the earth and free from ego, and he/she vould divide them up the way he saw fit.

If it weren't for the materialist/scarcity driven/fear-based/greedy attitude of the world, this could work. So you wouldn't be able to have that mega yacht, but you would live in a world filled with love because everyone felt taken care of and there was no worry for survival. No more primal fear. Imagine not worrying about survival? You would be free to do any job you wanted. How many more painters would there be and how many less salesmen? What is so wrong with helping out your fellow humans a little?

I think communism is the ultimate goal for the earth but we have been conditioned to fear it since birth. Told it was bad and the big scary Russians almost took over the world and nuked us. If council of non ego driven people, maybe an advanced species of the galaxy, were to over see it, I feel it is the only way. With capitalism, someone always gets the shaft and fear will always be a staple of the collective consciousness. I cant wait to see what the next evolution in consciousness will bring!



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 04:28 PM
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reply to post by sirnex
 



Originally posted by sirnex
[...]live in equilibrium.


An sound advice.


Originally posted by sirnex
We are individuals living together in a group with individual wants, needs and desires.


In my personal opinion, only a small percentage of people in modern societies are individuals - if it literally means in-dividable. Most people are like weathercocks, waving in the wind according to the current trend of good and evil - or personas, again in the original meaning of the word.

-v

[edit on 29-10-2009 by v01i0]



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 04:31 PM
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Originally posted by fraterormus
Cogito Ergo Sum


Perhaps it is time that we stop declaring war on one another and instead declare war on our respective Egos!

It may seem silly, but it's not like we don't already declare war on invisible foes. What do you think the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, Witchhunts, and TPTB are?

It is not a difficult concept to grasp, although it may be more difficult to enact in practice than in thought.



I quite agree that this is one of the better threads in a while.

One of the major problems in declaring "war" on your ego is that the very thought of destroying it, gives it strength to exist. You are stating to yourself that it exists. And indeed, this is much much harder than it sounds.

In order to get rid of your ego, you must not give it presence, and that is where the problem lies, as most try to control it rather than to make it disappear.

in my opinion of course...



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 04:46 PM
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Originally posted by tribewilder


One of the major problems in declaring "war" on your ego is that the very thought of destroying it, gives it strength to exist. You are stating to yourself that it exists. And indeed, this is much much harder than it sounds.


Well said. The ego is a tricky fellow and declaring war on it will only allow it to slip in again through the back door. Conscious presence or mindfulness is the way to end the endless chatter of the ego. A deep breath and becoming aware of the fact that you are the conscious observer and the ego fades away. There is no room for the ego when you are present. Declaring like you said will only intensify it like the war on drugs. Huge success that has been.

For a better description on presence, check here



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 04:58 PM
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Interesting post. Thanks.
Some thoughts on ego from my blog.

Ego is the mediation between the conscious and the subconscious. It is your perception of reality, both what you experience or think about and what is beyond your understanding, but no less influential. You’re ego knows your consciousness and feels your subconsciousness. That means that basically you are your ego, built out of your paradigms.
Your Id is your innate primary instincts.

Thoughts of fight or flight come from the id, beyond your subconscious, past what you’ve leaned in this life, to what all humans (all creatures) are pre-wired to know. (I know there is an argument for plant life having id, and even ego, but there is also an argument for animals having superego and we don’t have time to cover everything.) The basic differences between ego and id are the basic differences between man and beast. When we are able to question our instincts, examine our id, we have developed ego.

Superego is the term used to indicate the conscious determination of ego. Where ego knows our consciousness and only feels our subconscious, the superego knows both. Where the ego can be faulted by a misinterpreted bias hidden in a memory, superego knows that bias already and can compensate for it.

Hope you don't mind me befriending you!



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 05:01 PM
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reply to post by tribewilder
 


We are our ego. I don't believe it is something we can suppress or something we should ignore. It is what defines us, or at least those of us who value individuality.

I decided to look up what the ego is. I always equated it to something akin to being egotistic. I'm certainly not getting rid of my ego, ever. From the psychological descriptions Freud give's, the OP is talking about the Id. I'm not to big on psychology myself, so this is somewhat new to me.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 05:11 PM
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Originally posted by sirnex

It is what defines us, or at least those of us who value individuality.



I quite agree. But for those that see everything as being one, you can see how it can be a problem.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 08:55 PM
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Originally posted by sirnex
reply to post by tribewilder
 


We are our ego. I don't believe it is something we can suppress or something we should ignore. It is what defines us, or at least those of us who value individuality.

I decided to look up what the ego is. I always equated it to something akin to being egotistic. I'm certainly not getting rid of my ego, ever. From the psychological descriptions Freud give's, the OP is talking about the Id. I'm not to big on psychology myself, so this is somewhat new to me.


I don't agree. Ego is a by-product of our true selves(true nature) and our material minds. The ego can only exist in the past or the future and neither of those exist. They are only memories and imaginary projections of the mind.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 09:21 PM
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reply to post by SeeingBlue
 


Your going to have to take that up with the man who coined the terminology then.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 10:24 PM
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The egoic mind is the root of all suffering. My most ardent task in recent times has been becoming acutely aware of it, and then observing it intently, as often as possible. The observation itself created the "shift" within, whereas the silent watcher that was always there but looked on quietly began to strengthen in presence, and in doing so, has afforded me a REMARKABLE change in perception and the turmoil my mind and its incessant chattering caused myself and others around me. I can literally quiet my mind and emotional state down at will in short order now. It is the most liberating and powerful feeling one can imagine. What is beneath the surface of the illusion is powerful and amazing beyond comprehension.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 10:44 PM
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reply to post by fraterormus
 


I will not be assimilated. Being an individual does not necessarily mean one will suffer. Resistance is not futile.



posted on Oct, 29 2009 @ 10:56 PM
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I like the OP's post very much except for this part and similar implications:


Originally posted by fraterormus
Cogito Ergo Sum
Why do Westerners live a life of excess?
Why do Westerners live without thought of consequence?
Why do Westerners live a life dominated by greed and selfishness?


Not only "Westerners" do these things. All human beings do. Study Asian or African history...it is no less bloody than Western history, no less saturated with greed, shortsightedness, and selfishness.

Also, the West has a long tradition of ego-transcendence, albeit an underground one...study up on Hermiticism, or the Gnostics, or the Rosicrucians, or the Medieval Alchimests, or the Late-antique Christian desert mystics, or Meister Eckhart, or the Quietists, or Cathars, or the Alchemists, or Hesychasm, or... All of these and and more are Western mystical systems of ego transcendence no lest valid than anything found in the East.

Meanwhile, in the East things were not always as rosy as they seem on paper. "Zen and the Art of Archery" looks nice when written elegantly on the cover of a book...but what were those archers shooting at? Human flesh. Tibetan monestaries were huge landholders with serfs who were often yoked like oxen, beaten, and had their hands and feet cut off. Buddhist temples even today in Asia often serve as money-laundering fronts for crime elements. And so on. That's not to say their doctrines are not beautiful. But between theory and practice is a big gap...as big a gap as that between a barefoot Christ preaching brotherhood and a warmongering, fear-mongering, diamond-dripping fundamentalist Christian hypocrite of today.



posted on Oct, 30 2009 @ 04:26 AM
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I'll reply in general, not directing this to anyone, but rather on the issue that has been pointed out by few previous posts; namely the willful combat against the ego. I'd like to inquire the effects and causes it may have.

First of all, what is the willful battle against it? When we observe ourselves, our ego, and see that there are characteristics in it that are not something we want, then in most cases, we want to change; "Oh, I am so grumpy, I want to feel love" or "Oh, I am too inclined into other's will, I must be more decisive", or anything else what we want to change in ourselves. Then, aren't we merely placing another extreme of the options in place of another? Thus captivating the mind with more walls, imprisoning it as much as it used to be (imprisoned)?

Secondly, from where this want to change comes from? Does it come from within, or have we been influenced by an ideal, defined outside? If it comes from outside, then it is no better than a religion, state oppression or any other type of propaganda.

Personally, I have been there - thinking that I should change, that I should become something that I am not. Luckily I observed myself in depth to notice the physical and psychological hints which were telling me that is not the way to go. Then I gave it up and found a tranquility in accepting myself as I am. I still observe myself and my action, but this observation is not aimed towards change - it is merely observation, rather objective. The change, when and if it happens, happens because the observation leads into understanding that something in my demeanor is unavailing. Then it happens without effort, without willful combat against myself.

-v

[edit on 30-10-2009 by v01i0]



posted on Oct, 30 2009 @ 06:54 AM
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Originally posted by silent thunder
Not only "Westerners" do these things.


"Western Shame" is quite in fashion right now. Pointing out that humans are just humans and have been messing up, Occidental or Oriental, for as long as they have existed is just nerdy.




[edit on 10/30/2009 by EnlightenUp]



posted on Oct, 30 2009 @ 09:14 AM
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Originally posted by DimensionalDetective
The egoic mind is the root of all suffering. My most ardent task in recent times has been becoming acutely aware of it, and then observing it intently, as often as possible. The observation itself created the "shift" within, whereas the silent watcher that was always there but looked on quietly began to strengthen in presence, and in doing so, has afforded me a REMARKABLE change in perception and the turmoil my mind and its incessant chattering caused myself and others around me. I can literally quiet my mind and emotional state down at will in short order now. It is the most liberating and powerful feeling one can imagine. What is beneath the surface of the illusion is powerful and amazing beyond comprehension.


This is an amazing description of exactly what i've been going through the last year and a half. It's amazing the distantance I have came since I firsted started and I can't imagine the distant I will go in the future cause I'm only 22.




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