This is my fifth post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.
E= Exploring and Channeling the Ego: This is a topic that I have explored in-depth before in a post titled, “Subduing the Ego“, and off and on throughout several posts. However, I think learning to properly develop and channel the ego is essential for anyone undertaking a path of personal and/or spiritual development, or someone who simply wants to live a happier and more fulfilled life.
The ego has numerous definitions and classifications in psychology and spiritual communities. When I refer to the ego, I am referring to the part of ourselves that drives our wants and desires, and to a large extend our self-image. The ego is the devil on our soldier telling us to pursue our every desire, and that having nice things, looking good in front of others, and receiving praise are the ultimate goals, and that their obtainment is justified by any means. Since the ego drives our desires and self-image, it is no coincidence that so many people engage in a constant negative cycle of empty desires and destructive behaviors.
Too many people believe that by obtaining a certain material object or accolade, or by hanging out with a certain crowd they will look “good”, and therefore be happy. However, obtaining a material object or receiving praise can never bring happiness if it causes harm to others, because the object or achievement will be forever tainted. Also, even if the material object or accolade is obtained through no harm to anyone or anything else, they still can never bring true happiness, because happiness cannot come from the outside. Also, associating (hanging out) with what we perceive to be “high-caliber” people cannot bring happiness, because these relationships can simply cover up our own insecurities, and once again happiness in an internal manifestation, not external.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t live comfortable lives and have nice things, or associate with with affluent or influential groups. However, we must make sure that we aren’t allowing the ego to control our decisions and self-image. Instead, we should make sure that our desires are wholesome, and obtained without harm to others. Also, we should never allow our possessions, accolades, or friends define who we are as a person.
I believe there are three steps to exploring and properly channeling the ego: First, we should examine our thoughts and desires to ensure that they are pure, and not being tainted by the desires of the ego. Second, we should put the desires of the ego into check, by examining the motivations of the ego, and exploring why we are motivated to pursue the desires of the ego. Do we want to obtain material objects and praise in order to “look good”, because of underlying insecurity issues? Third, we should re-channel the energy of the ego in a positive way. Instead of undertaking endeavors to make ourselves look good, we should undertake endeavors to help others through acts of compassion, love, and charity, not for praise or glory, but just to help others. I think this is the key step, and is the main reason why compassion, love, and charity are the keystones of so many religions.
Practical Tip: Throughout the week if you find your self desiring something, examine your motivation behind it. Are you pursuing it solely because of the ego? If it is being pursued because of the ego, examine why, and try to remedy underlying issues (gaps such as insecurities, low self-esteem, etc.) that the ego is trying to fill or cover up. Also, if you find yourself angry or hurt because of something another person said or did, examine why you are feeling that way. Are you allowing your ego to control your self-image?
I would love to see comments on your take on the ego, and what you have done to control and/or channel your own ego. If you wish to use the topic of exploring and channeling the ego as a point of reflection during the week, I would love for you to share any insights that come up.
Please come back next week for the next installment of this series, and as always if you enjoyed what you read, please share on social network sites, subscribe to this site, and share this site with others!
Also please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click on the book cover to view on Amazon.com)