Two Kinds of Ego
Careful with that axe!
by Gene Poole

Other discussions relating to "ego" can be found at / by:
Chögyam Trungpa
, on the mechanics of ego formation
Bruce Morgen, ego seen as quasi-reiterative process
Moller de la Rouviere, on how ego as separate self-sense is related to self-inquiry
Various authors, other writings which might illuminate something on this important if nebulous spiritual concept

A discussion in NDS of the difference between "psychological ego" (self-organizing principle), and "separate-self ego," in which "S" was explaining something she had learned at an Andrew Cohen gathering to someone else and Gene commented.

[S:] It came out of a question where someone mentioned the "first you have to build up a healthy ego, in order to be able to let go of it" theory. Cohen just pointed out that we use the same word for two different concepts, so people sometimes get confused about this.

[G:] Damaged and or inadequate ego is a very common malady.
'Healthy ego' equals healthy immune system; they are the same thing. Ego is psychic immunity in action. Just as you would not deliberately destroy your immune system, so it is unwise to seek to demolish ego.

[S:] As I understand it, ego-building, which is in the psychologist's arena, is not antithetical to ego-annihilation, which is what happens in enlightenment.

[G:] Perhaps I could suggest that ego is not annihilated in enlightenment but that it is identity which goes. Ego is not identity.

I contest the assertion that 'ego-annihilation' is what happens in enlightenment. On the contrary, the ego becomes slaved to – or another way of saying it, 'entrained by' – the vast overall consciousness and purpose of self. There is only self.

In this new configuration, the contents of memory which comprise identity, are parsed; the purpose seems to be to bring one into compliance with self. Identity, being comprised of memory, is thus demolished. If anything, ego is untouched; in fact, I would say that ego becomes much more powerful, yet 'transparent'.

Ego that gives trouble, does so because identity has become something of a monster, a sport; it has mutated away from the overall purpose of self. In this way, identity becomes a 'foreign object', and immunity seeks to expel it. A damaged or weak ego cannot expel or properly parse a toxic identity.

It is a very sly ploy, to seek to weaken ego; this tactic assures the perpetuation of toxic identity. It is no wonder that these words 'ego' and 'identity' are commonly used improperly; by such means, are given permissions for the entire farce to continue, even while cloaked in the vaunted robes of spiritual virtue.

[S:] It is misleading to use the same term in both places, because if they were the same, then enlightened folks would all be severely mentally ill. The psychological ego helps us to function. The sense of a separate self that we carry around (also called ego) is self-perpetuating and exists regardless of the status of our mental health.

[G:] I beg to disagree. Ego damage or incapacity can be an incremental, sudden, or phasic process or event. Disorder of ego is the very definition of mental illness. Insufficiency of ego may be the most common 'psychological problem' of the modern population; the suffering and distress of this state, naturally leads to the seeking of relief. Imagine the titanic error that is made, when it is believed that killing the immune system, will bring relief from troublesome symptoms of disease...


[S:] I'll note that people sometimes also elevate "the mentally ill" to special spiritual status because of their sometimes radically different perceptions. But this is just as misguided. The only connection, as I see it, would be this: Any illness has the potential to cause a shift, to bring in the thought "how can I be this body (mind)", if what I thought to be solid is not?

[G:] The 'mentally ill' serve the purpose of 'the canary in the coal mine'; if the bird loses consciousness, the miners know to seek oxygen. In the same way, yet unseen, the 'mentally ill' tell us, by their way of being, that we are failing to properly manage our societal responsibilities. Moreso, that we indulge in a charade of concern, all the while promoting the same crap that contributes to a toxic psychic ambiance. Thus it is, and thus is the social meat- grinder into which we toss our selves and our children...

Gene Poole is the moderator of Gene's Gulag and contributed to GRF for years until he started his own group

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