Okay, you have an ego. You are not an ego, you create one. You build one based on your beliefs. It’s like you think the world is an ocean of doubts, so you construct a marionette to swim in that doubtfulness. Or you think the world is scary, so every day you wake up and use the same beliefs to build a marionette that acts frightened. Or maybe you think the world is stupid, so every day you wake up and re-build the same angry marionette that blames dumb people for things.
You can be healthier just by assuming the world is fascinating, so even if you end up as an ego using words, you’ll build a marionette that is curious. Or… you can think the world is beautiful and you can skip building the marionette and instead you can just be in the actual state of wonder. Because that’s what you’re really looking for. Not positive thinking; no thinking.
That’s what children are. Before egos they’re in a constant state of openness. No expectations. No ideas or concepts or truths or possessions. No resistance. Things just are, and the reaction to them is so pure that no ego is even created. A child simply interacts with the world. If they like it they laugh if they don’t they cry. They don’t ask if they are right or wrong to be doing those things.
Having no ego, young children do not analyze the world or themselves for value. They don’t break it down into expectations, or obligations, or certainties, or promises. They don’t even see at from a subject-object perspective yet. It simply is. There is no meaning. There is only the verb of being alive and they accept that they feel as they feel. Can you see the wisdom of children? Without an ego they are free.
But then here’s what happens; you overhear other conversations. You hear people thinking out loud. They’ll offer opinions on what they think should have happened. The problem is, when you are young you are in the control of the same people for long periods of time (parents, guardians, teachers etc.), and that is where you learn to have an ego. You learn to have expectations about how people should work, or drive, or be. But there’s no getting around it. All of our lives are largely mimicry no matter what we do. If you lived on the street instead of at home you’d just learn to live from role models there.
Just think about it: you have opinions about everything. Do you think pre-ego children are looking at people at the grocery store and judging their hairstyles? Not with thoughts they aren’t, because a lot of kids don’t even have the ability to use words well enough to make a judgment. Some hairdos might look like more fun or unusual, but a pre-ego child won’t have a value-based opinion because no one has built the structures in their head yet to hold that opinion. The child hasn’t yet been taught who to be through what they value. Once they know that, they can then clash with others who are enacting other ways of being.
It’s fine to have a personality. It’s fine to be more aggressive or more passive or more social or more private. You will naturally become something. But you don’t have to modify that something with busy, judgmental thinking. Not about other people and not about you. Because the important thing to remember is, once you’ve been taught to judge, you judge everything. Including yourself.
That’s the painful part: where you start using words and meanings people taught you, and you use those to create later life experience. So in the 40’s and 50’s, before Western media, girls in Polynesia liked to be Rubenesque. They saw a heavier frame as sexy because that’s what their culture taught them. So girls were happy being bigger. But then media images overrode their upbringing, and those girls came to believe they were wrong to look the way they did. They started to think there was a right way to look, whereas up until then they just looked the way they did and they lived. But now they have learned to delay their life while they organize how they look, instead.
So now, rather than living life, people walk around all day noticing what they perceive as deficits in their being or character or self or life or others. They talk to themselves about how they (or others) are too fat, or too skinny, or too poor, or not rich enough, or too old, or too young, or too late, or too early. Blah blah blah.
You just yak and yak to yourself, criticizing almost everything you or other people do, and then you wonder why life isn’t grand and wonderful. Are you kidding? You’re using your mind to create a companion that walks everywhere you go and insults you and other people. How could you possibly have a good life if you’re living it like that?
Shut that other voice up. Because it’s not another voice, it’s you. You don’t make it stop talking, you stop it by not re-starting it. It’s like a bike that needs you to peddle it or it just falls down. Without your effort you have no ego. You need to get up and use words to wind that baby into existence.
An ego needs you to wake up every morning and then you voluntarily, out of habit, go into your memories and beliefs and you re-create your ego. You have to remember things like; you don’t like mornings, or you hate your commute, or you can’t stand this or that disc jockey on the radio.
Opinions are what you forget when you have amnesia—you can’t recreate who you believe you are. Well, it turns out that you can also do that by choice, it’s just that very few people suggest that idea to you, and many more just run around passing their ego-opinions back and forth as though they actually mean something.
Go quiet. Just be in the world. It won’t be easy at first. You’ll have to learn to go quiet just like you had to learn to talk to yourself. But it’s not hard. It just takes practice. The question is, are you serious about your spirituality or do you just want to read this and magically get better?
Are you prepared to be responsible for yourself and your own thinking? Are you prepared to practice being quiet inside? Are you prepared to be vigilant about your personal thinking? You’ll still do it, guaranteed. The real question is, whenever you do start to think, do you keep doing it, or do you notice the emotions it generates and stop? That’s up to you. But that’s how you kill your ego. You just reduce how often you recreate it, and how long it lasts when it does sneak in.
You’re free right now, you just don’t believe it. You think you’re this or that person that has to do this or that thing. And you will rate and grade yourself and others based on your expectations relative to all of that. And you will be interminably unhappy while you make those judgments. Because those words and ideas are illusory layers between you and the world, and those words and ideas are what contain all of your suffering.
Be free. Go quiet. It’s more natural than you think. And everything will work out fine. 😉
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.