Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Rehabilitating the idea of having an ego

One of the greatest casualties of the folk theory of nondual enlightenment is the attack on individuality and the notion of having an ego. We are told it’s not real, but also that this illusory, predatory, and parasitic thing is all that is keeping us from being enlightened Gods. It’s time to recover the notion of ego from its demonization by the misinformed culture of nonduality. Ego isn’t the problem, nor is the thought of being your ego.

The simple truth is that nonduality is present in any context of human awareness. The sense of being an individual is not the hurdle to knowing one’s nonduality, it’s the lack of recognition of the nonduality present right now. It’s not a problem of who you are, or who you think you are, it’s entirely a matter of what you are seeing when you look out through your point of view. Nonduality is always right there, in every perception you experience, in-between and underneath your feelings, thoughts and thought stream. Having an idea of being a person changes none of these truths. Unless of course, you’ve learned that is does and have decided to believe that, thus generating another conceptual displacement from the truth you’ve always lived in moment-to-moment.

The whole problem of “ego” began with a mistranslation of the Sanskrit term ahamkara, otherwise known as the knot of the heart. The semantics of this term are more akin to the feeling that serves as the belief in being our egos. We have every reason to believe we are our egos, so telling us we aren’t doesn’t really map well to our experience. However, we can recognize that it is only by this belief that we only seem to know ourselves as our ego. If we can recognize this belief within the context of nondual realization, the ahamkara is broken, and we are left with an always-on “sense” of being the nonduality—in a direct yet not describable way—and the ego, at once.

After all, it’s all you’ve ever known about yourself. That’s not something you can necessarily do away with. It’s the house the brain made for life’s incessant need to find comfort, the building materials being your life’s experiences as recorded by memory. Seems like that’s a lot to lose, compared to the much more compact notion that your individuality is a kind of absolute border to your sense of being, when in fact, it has never been anything other than borderlessness itself.