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Jun 25

Exploring and Channeling the Ego

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.

My son rocking out to an iPod, and weaving a tangled web! 😉
(C) Shelby Hurst Photography- 2010

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)

13 comments

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  1. Chuck Dunning

    Hi Jason,

    Great topic! I appreciate the work toward inner harmony that you are writing about, and the tip you gave to help with being mindful in one’s choices and actions.

    I’m glad you specified what you mean by “ego.” Different schools of thought use such terms very differently, and that can make for some real confusion if people aren’t clear about their meanings.

    Chuck

  2. erranttranscendentalist

    I imagine that getting into the practice of exploring and examining the ego is probably one of the most beneficial things that one can do in the way of living a powerful life. I really like your exercise. Best wishes, Angela

  3. silentlyheardonce

    Surely something to ponder on. Never associated my wants and goals with my ego.

  4. Jessica J Marshall

    “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?”

    This will come in handy for me with my new adventure into administration. Thank you for always giving me something to think about.

  5. Mira Jay

    got me back to the time I’ve read “The Transparent Self”..
    Smart work here…Peace & Light

  6. momentumofjoy

    Love the post and adore your kiddo rockin’ it with the iPod! Simply adorable. :) I really appreciate how you don’t begrudge having nice things but rather remind us that they have a place (and are not the goal waiting at the pinnacle of the spiritual peak). Wonderful words!

    1. Jason E. Marshall

      Thank you, I love my little guy! I have had to explain myself to several people, who give me odd looks when I talk about not being driven by materialistic needs. They inevitably point out that I have a nice car, a new iPhone, an iPad, a Macbook Pro, a classic car in addition to my daily driver, etc. I simply say that I have nice things, but they aren’t my driving force. I am perfectly happy “roughing it” in the woods on a camping trip, or going sans technology for extended period of times. In fact, most of my “nice things” are generally used in my professional life as an attorney, and truth be told I would be perfectly happy going off the grid, with only the occasional access to a computer for my blog posts! 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. aleafinspringtime

    E = Excellent. I also read your earlier post on Subduing the Ego which complemented this one beautifully. Oh the ego – such a very treacherous friend indeed. How very good to do an exposé on it to reveal all its cunning ploys. I actually finished writing a two page article on the Ego a while back but decided to sit on it a while as I felt it reeked a bit of my own :( I do have a question which I have been pondering. When a person feels hurt or pain as a result of an injustice against him, which part of the person is actually hurting? Is it still the Ego? Thank you for your thoughts and can’t wait what you have in store for us next. Wishing you and your family a great summer Jason! Sharon

    1. Jason E. Marshall

      I tend to think that when someone feels hurt or wrong due to an actual or perceived injustice, that it is the ego that is feeling the sting. The ego loves two things 1) grandiosity – praise, “Look what I did”, I’m better than _____, etc. 2) Victimhood – “Look what they did to me”, “I deserve better”, It’s ______’s fault. When I feel wronged or ill-appreciated I often simply ask myself “is my ego feeling this, or am I (the essential being) feeling this?” Inevitably the ego is the one that is in pain. 😉 Thanks for the wonderful and thought provoking comment! I look forward to your article!

  8. bneal817

    There is nothing that is not the Self. What we call “ego” is just the natural flowing forth of thoughts, feelings and desires from the places within us that are yet in darkness – the ways we still identify with body, form and personality, rather than with Being itself.

    This then becomes a precious gift when we stop resisting and become aware, and follow the flow back to it’s source, and shine our light into the dark places. When we see our false identifications for what they are, then illusion falls away, and the Truth sets us free…

    Awareness is the key.

    ~ Ben

    1. Jason E. Marshall

      On a fundamental level I agree with you 100% that there is nothing that is not the Self. I think that the ego is composed of the darker narcissistic corners of our psyche, and I agree that with practice, love, and light the ego will eventually fall away. Thanks for the great comment!

  9. erranttranscendentalist

    Congratulations–you have just been nominated for the “A Thought Provoking Blog” award.
    http://erranttranscendentalist.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/a-thought-provoking-blog-award/

    1. Jason E. Marshall

      Thank you very much! I am honored, and I really love your blog as well! I am planning on writing my acceptance/response article soon!

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