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E: Ego (Blogging From A to Z Challenge)

April 6, 2015

The Ego.

Leggo my Ego.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun. I guess if you’ve never seen an Eggo waffle commercial then the joke made no sense to you, but if you have, then I imagine you laughing uncontrollably right about now as you wipe away tears of laughter.

Enough of that, let’s get serious.

So. The ego.

I’m not a psychiatrist and I’m not a Buddhist so I can’t really explain the ego or egolessness in words that would make good sense to anyone but me. By my understanding, the ego is all the beliefs we have about ourselves (good and bad) combined into one core belief or identity. Many believe it is the source of pain and suffering in our lives. My definition of Egolessness is even murkier because I don’t really grasp it. To me (and if you’re reading this and I’m off base please feel free to help me out), egolessness, is a pattern of thought that doesn’t tell us that we’re “smart” or “dumb” or “fat” or “thin” or “good” or “bad”, but that we just are. For example, the air isn’t good or bad, smart or dumb, the air is just the air. Egolessness would be, again, by my understanding, living a life without the knowledge or beliefs of who we think we are, just that we are simply human. Not a smart human, or a dumb human, not a capable human or an incapable human, not a black human or a white human, just a human.

I say all this to preface the video below from Thich Nhat Hanh who is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, author, poet and a whole bunch of other things that I won’t list here but that you can look for online. I discovered him when I found his book “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life”. The audio is a little difficult to hear but if you turn up your speakers and lean close you can make it and I hope you do. In the video, titled “Ego”, he talks about his hands. His right hand, he tells us, has written many poems and his left hand has written no poems, yet his hands are just hands and the right hand doesn’t have any feelings of superiority over the left hand which is why it is very happy. His left hand doesn’t have any feelings of inferiority for not having written poetry. His two hands live together in a balance and a wisdom that he calls the “wisdom of non-discrimination”. He goes on to tell about the time he was using a hammer with his right hand to pound a nail he was holding with his left hand. His right hand slipped and he hit his left thumb with the hammer. The right hand set the hammer down and held the left thumb, comforting it and taking care of it. The right hand didn’t tell the left thumb to remember this act of kindness and that he would have to pay him back at some point in the future, and the left hand didn’t demand to hold the hammer so he could exact revenge and get justice for the injury. The two hands, he says, are together. What a beautiful state, huh? Unfortunately, the video ends abruptly there but it’s OK, the message comes through and it’s enough.

by Thich Nhat Hanh
You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2015 8:07 am

    I swear we’re related! It is so random that I found your blog in the 2000 other blogs that are in the challenge list. And yet not.

    I use the word ego to indeed identify myself from other selves but I know that we are all cells in the same body. I think it’s important to know that I am say, a blood cell and not a kneecap cell, but I don’t have to brag on it. I wrote a short story years ago titled “Sticks and Stones” which you would enjoy I think. Maybe when we get to the “S” day I’ll remember to post it. Not likely, but it could happen.


  2. Stephen Tremp permalink
    April 6, 2015 1:48 pm

    Hey Michael, stopping in from the A to Z Challenge to say hello and thanks for your continued participation!


  3. April 6, 2015 6:31 pm

    That was a truly wonderful read and a very welcome stop on this blog challenge. Life would be so much easier if it could be lived in that way, but I think it takes great discipline to quiet the ego.

    Still, the hand analogy is a great one (though to be honest, I think lefty has been plotting against righty for some time now. Something about pickle jars).


  4. April 6, 2015 9:46 pm

    Great post, I agree with the idea of egolessness and the state of just being or we just are. Not good bad or indifferent. Looking forward to your other posts. ~Paula


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