Ahhhh, the ego. You know Ego… very self-centered, arrogant, self important. Ego finds things like power, control, authority and position as motivating triggers. Ego drapes us in false-pride. Ego is forever judging. Ego believes itself to always be right and everything else as wrong. The length it goes to in order to convince you of this is impressive.
Dr. Wayne Dyer says “No one has ever seen the face of ego. It is like a ghost that we accept as a controlling influence in our lives. I look upon the ego as nothing more than an idea that each of us has about ourselves. The ego is only an illusion, but a very influential one. Letting the ego-illusion become your identity can prevent you from knowing your true self. Ego, the false idea of believing that you are what you have or what you do, is a backwards way of assessing and living life.”
And, “The ego-idea has been with us ever since we began to think. It sends us false messages about our true nature. It leads us to make assumptions about what will make us happy and we end up frustrated. It pushes us to promote our self-importance while we yearn for a deeper and richer life experience. It causes us to fall into the void of self-absorption again and again, not knowing that we need only shed the false idea of who we are.”
Sogyal Rinpoche in The Tibetan Book of the Dead writes by way of describing ego : “Two people have been living in you all of your life. One is the ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice of wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to.”
This ego self has a driving purpose to be seen in a positive light. Always. This ego self will work endlessly to disavow itself of any responsibility it has for any negative outcome. Ego is not responsible. Ever.
As an alternative and a means of balance, there is the idea of the quiet ego.
This is the idea that says our sense of well being is about transcending, not enhancing the self. This is the path to contentment and that elusive sense of inner peace we all longingly search for. This is the way to a lasting happiness.
Jack Bauer, Heidi Wayment, and Kateryna Sylaska are researching the idea of the quiet ego. “The volume of the ego is turned down so that it might listen to others as well as the self in an effort to approach life more humanely and compassionately.”
According to the above researchers “quiet ego consists of four interconnected facets: detached awareness, inclusive identity, perspective-taking, and personal growth. These four characteristics all contribute to having a general stance of balance and growth toward the self and others.”
I want balance and growth towards the self and OTHERS. How about you?
So, what does this mean?
“Detached Awareness” is when the quiet ego speaks up and reminds us to be mindful and aware of what we are doing, of what is happening around us. The person with a quiet ego is focused on the present moment with no judgment or preconceived ideas of how things should be. We put this quality to the test when we rush through activities, do things automatically without paying much attention to them.
“Inclusive Identity” presents itself in a person with a quiet ego as being cooperative and compassionate. They possess a strong connection with all living things, all people…strangers, people of other ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, there is no “other” to a person with a quiet ego. The other end of this spectrum would be doing things only for yourslef, the “what’s in it for me?” thought process.
“Perspective Taking” is about the proverbial “put yourself in the other person’s shoes and walk a mile.” It’s about imagining yourself going through what the other person is going through. It is about listening to and hearing the other side of the story with no judgment. For some this is difficult. It is their perspective that matters and the other person’s views are “wrong”, “not of significance” or “irrelevant”.
“Personal Growth” is about allowing and working towards life being about learning, changing and growing. It is about new experiences that challenge what we think about ourselves and the world. It is about stepping outside of what we are familiar and comfortable with. It is about the fluid experience and not about the value judgement of the end result.
When we experience quiet ego we have healthy self esteem because we acknowledge our limitations. There is no need to be defensive about who we are. Our well being is balanced through having contributing traits like humility, authenticity, open thinking, valuing the present moment, resilience, self compassion, satisfaction with our life.
Listen to your quiet ego…see the world as a whole. Learn to see the oneness, the inter-connectedness that is everywhere. We are all human. We all share the same emotions, struggles, life events. We will all die. If our thoughts are rooted in love and compassion rather than pride, power or attachment, our true self is thriving and not ego.
“But I’ll tell you what hermits realize.
If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet,
you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.”
~ Alan Watts
As Dr. Dyer says, we don’t have to accept the ghost called ego to be the controlling force in our life. We don’t have to perpetuate the idea that ego is something that rules us and is difficult to quiet. It is possible to quiet ego so that, as Sogyal Rinpoche teaches, we can hear the still voice of wisdom instead.
Each and every day, all day long we are offered true gifts and are capable of offering our true self to others. This is our treasure. Treasure to both receive and give. The challenge for many of us is to open the door for quiet ego to come in to our lives and guide us so we have the presence of mind and awareness of how rich and blessed we are.
“We are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold,
begging for pennies from every passerby,
unaware that his fortune was right under him the whole time.
Your treasure—your perfection–is within you already.
But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind
and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”