Beyond the Thrall of Ego

We are raised to be Egotists and then resented for it. This is the means of our alienation.

Our organism knows what to do and how to act. It has been functioning in this way since before we were born.

Through the accidents and consequences of what we know as thought, and the pernicious illusion of an “I” this phenomenon projects, we have forced another layer control atop our functioning organism. This amounts to saddling up a monkey onto its back.

The effects of this are threefold.

Confusion. Functions that worked fine on their own are now caught-up in an echo-chamber of reverberating commands superimposed upon a smoothly flowing functional process. This leads to error, miscommunication, and a shutting down of processes that had been well-functioning and finely-tuned before.

The introduction of delusion. The “I” is self-perpetuating. This is its only function, to project a semblance of existence, to defend itself. In this it projects conflict outward. It alleges conflict to be external, between our organism and our world while obscuring that it is truly between Ego and its host organism. Under the guise of acting in “our” best interest, Ego strives to hold onto its power at any cost.

This can only be recognized clearly when we are aware of the Ego’s dilemma. It cannot exist without a host organism, but – beyond the organism’s continued existence measured in the most limited fashion, merely as a viable host – the Ego has no reason to concern itself with our organism’s health or well-being. Beyond that, if the risk is high that the organism will throw out its parasitic Ego, the Ego has nothing to lose if it takes the organism to the brink of annihilation. This is the cause of suicide. Suicide is the Ego facing extinction and deciding to take the rest of “us” down with it.

This means that the monkey ultimately has no concern over whether it’s shenanigans are beneficial to its mount. There is no mechanism within the Ego’s view to correct for error, miscommunication, or even fatal breakdown. Delusion is decoupled from self-interest. The deceit of Ego, that its interests are our own, allow it to trap us within delusions that only benefit its continued domination over us.

And thirdly. The Ego projects all these conflicts, its violence against its host, onto the world. By holding the organism hostage and forcing it to act in ways that are damaging to its own interests, the Ego not only works destructively within the body and mind, but out in the world. The enslaved organism, carrying out the demands of Ego, wreaks havoc and commits violence against everything that is. All in the name of maintaining Ego’s parasitic mastery.

In this way, it is clear, that “fighting injustice,” or any of Ego’s crimes, out there; in no way eliminates their cause, but only perpetuates our infatuation with Ego’s intoxicating effects.

Ego is a parasite on our attention. Attention is all we have. Awareness, consciousness, are all we have. The organism knows this. It is an embodiment of attention with a legacy reaching back throughout the entire evolution of life on earth, if not longer.

Ego hijacks the organism’s attention. It is good at it. It has many tools at its disposal. They all have one culminating purpose, to focus our attention onto Ego itself. This is Ego’s one and only need. Its single purpose. Its mode of existence. Just as we say of the cranky 3-year-old, that budding victim of an infection of Ego, any attention is considered good attention. Attention is existence. To the Ego it is the quantity of attention, not its quality, that matters.

So, any time Ego can get us to attend to its need by accepting its rationales, by believing in its projections, by acting according to its desires; it has succeeded.

This model, taking Ego as an invading parasitic agent, like all models, is incomplete and verging on a lie. Ego exists. It is a part of us, however it came to be, whatever its role has been. It is. Just as with  diseases, the notion that we can eradicate them, or isolate ourselves from their effects completely in some bubble of disinfectant, is a dangerous, partial truth. These strategies weaken us in the long term. They maintain us in a delusion in which our wish after escape or salvation can hide. We cannot cut away the Ego, or drug it away, or force it into submission. We can only strengthen our organism and re-establish its capacities to take care of itself.

It is ready and willing! At whatever first small step we take it responds with joy and vigor! Whatever is to be found on the other side of our domination by Ego will arise on the organism’s – and our community of organisms’ – own terms. It will not be anything we are accustomed to from within the thrall of Ego.

Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

3 thoughts on “Beyond the Thrall of Ego

  1. Tony,

    You have pierced a bubble of though that I have had for a long time. Thank you!

    I have long wondered if the lack of ego is at the heart of of the result of autism in children. If you have ever experienced an autistic child, You will see that they are hyper focused. They can not be distracted from that focus . Whether its a toy , or a spot on the wall, or spinning in circles. If you try to stop them they will either fight you or hold your gaze only momentarily. Are they in a world apart from the effects of their and our egos?

    On the opposite hand , would a child with attention deficit disorder maybe have an abundance of ego and no focus at all.

    Every child’s parent wants a normal child. Is that to say we want them as screwed up as the rest of us???



    1. John,

      You open up some pertinent and extremely interesting questions!

      We do need to hold onto two big conditions while looking at mental health.

      First, the culture is insane. Our reactions to this, the ways in which our organism, with its capacities and weaknesses, responds to this insanity makes it almost impossible to speculate what a “normal,” sane individual within a sane society would look like!

      Our categories of mental conditions are established and perpetuated within a model that puts conformity with society’s expectations as the measure of health. Combine this with the fact that our society is itself insane, and that leaves us on pretty soft ground!

      With those caveats, I would say you are onto something. I hadn’t thought of what Ego’s benefits might be specifically, but easing us out of a lock in the moment as you describe in autism, sounds like a good one!

      ADD certainly looks like a disorder of an out of control Ego chasing its immediate desires and finding no traction in the fullness of existence.

      As with every other part of our predicament, I would caution restraint at turning good questions into answers that proclaim they will “solve our problems!” Suspending the rush to answers and staying within an expanding circle of questions is the only way to avoid falling back into the many traps set by our conditioned mind-set.


      1. Tony,
        It does seem like most of these aberrations in mental”health” are merely disproportionate examples of “normal” elements of the human psyke. Obviously the same holds true for personality disorders.

        I often sense that our minds are plastic and amorphic, Our conciousness moves freely back and forth through a maze of states of being. It percieves ,firstly , what our five senses transmit as raw data about the outside world. Then it evaluates that data and begins an inward directed reprocessing. The amount of “time” spent in any one part of our various states both in durration and intensity defines our state of balance, and our outward directed reactions

        Love/hate, happy /sad, selfishness/selflessness, need /want create/destroy, I /we, etc. etc. We all bear these passengers in our minds. Our conciousness moves back and forth and up and down through a jello mold salad of these places, and from whatever state we spend the greatest amount of time influences where we are rationally. Stability comes when we visit all states in the proper proportions.

        Society, hammers down every nail that sticks out. If it deviates from the norm it must be redirected, fixed, hidden away, or destroyed. Society is fully capable of identical scitzophrania as the indevidual. It often looses balance and swerves to scary and violent realms.

        Just as easily as the indevidual can be an intolerable aberation for society, society can become intolerable to the indevidual. I, for one, find solace in small things, small doings, and introspection. I try not to look at the world with a jaunticed eye, or with prejudice. I am a passenger on the same obysmal rock we all share and call home.The world is still precious, mandkind is precious, and nature is precious.



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