To the ego, a “want” is interpreted as a “need” and a “have to have.” Thus, its seeking can become frantic, and all caution can be thrown to the wind. Desires are thereby escalated to being desperate and demanding any sacrifice, including even the deaths of millions of other people. It must have what it wants at any cost and will find many excuses to justify itself. It gets rid of reason with clever rhetoric bolstered by blame and demonizes others, for the ego has to win at all costs – because throughout millions of years of evolution, it did die if it did not get its wants and needs fulfilled. The ego has a long, long memory and millions of years of reinforcement.
Dr. David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D
When we find ourselves acting from ‘the ego,’ we often judge ourselves harshly. We may have an impulse not to be generous with a friend or a spouse. We may want recognition or thanks for something we’ve done. We may find ourselves bragging about an accomplishment or just wanting some attention. Then we catch ourselves and the negative self-talk begins, as if we should be better than this by now, as if someone who meditates and seeks the higher Self shouldn’t have these sorts of thoughts or behaviors, as if these thoughts or behaviors prove we haven’t grown at all.
This is a complete misunderstanding of what the ego is.
We humans are the result of evolution. From the first expression of animal life on our planet, the first single celled organisms, life depended on getting in order to survive. Bacteria and amoebae had to find and consume food. Unlike plant life, they were not able to self-nourish via photosynthesis. They had to eat. And like-wise through all the eons of evolution, this has been the constant for those of us embodied on the planet: the need to hunt, to acquire, to eat. The need to have.
And when food was scarce and those seeking it plentiful, the need to compete. Those who wanted it the most, got it. Those who were hungriest, ate. Those who were the most selfish, survived.
What does this tell us? That the ego, this manifestation of the need to survive, is not going anywhere. It’s here to stay. And it will continue to want/need/demand. We never will be rid of it, no matter how much we may want to be.
What we can be, however, is identified with something other than the ego. Identified with our true self, with our higher Self. Identified as that place deep within, beyond all the wants and needs and must-haves.
When we meditate, we connect with this place within. As we begin to know this place more and more as the Truth of what we are, we are able to call upon this truth outside of meditation as well. We are able to remind ourselves, regardless of what our ego thoughts might be telling us, that we have everything we need. That as this higher Self at-one-with All, there is nothing outside what we are, and therefore there is nothing we lack, nothing to need, nothing to fight over. There is only to be, let the ego say what it will. Simply to be.
The ego is here to stay, as long as I have a body. But I am something other than the body, as I am something other than the ego. All I need do is remind myself. And when selfish, ugly, judgmental thoughts arise, let myself off the hook for being human.
Today I will hear what the ego has to say, but I will not take it as an indication of who I am, what I am or of what I should do. I will listen for a deeper impulse that allows me the freedom to love and the freedom to be.