Our egos in the Western world are stroked and coddled as soon as we come into this world. Our ego serves as an anchor into reality. It has simple, basic needs: it wants attention and recognition and if possible, control over circumstance.
So, we come into this life and are given a name, an identifier. Ah, attention to that ego. You exist. Perhaps your name connects you to past ancestors. Ah, recognition. Perhaps there are expectations for who we are supposed to become. Ah, control over destiny.
So your ego sets about a course that will reinforce all that has been laid down by your family and culture.
You create your world so that the ego can continue to survive. One coping mechanism for this survival of the ego is the development of a persona, our presentation of self to the world.
We build up a persona based upon our family, our culture and our schooling. Persona comes from the Latin root that means ‘mask’.
We might have several personas, several ways we show ourselves to the world. Our happy persona, our confident persona, our responsible persona.
But, personas and our ego often are often intertwined, masking what our true calling, our true nature is.
We often aren’t even aware we are walking around in these costumes, created and reinforced by someone or something else, especially if they continue to be reinforced and we receive benefits from who we’ve become.
If we make a good living, have relationships that work, achieve recognition and generally embrace our life, then the ego continues to operate unchallenged.
But often, what happens, is that one or several parts of life fail to manifest what the ego wants. The relationship(s) may not be working, the job or career is unsatisfying, there is a deep sense of longing for something. The void feels enormous.
The root of this existential discomfort is the ego. But oh, how the ego doesn’t like to hear that. The ego is there, slinking back into a corner hoping you won’t decide to dismantle him. And yet, to find the greater potential that lays within us, the ego needs to become undone.
The personas, like masks collected from travels around the world, need to be dusted off and investigated. A total cleaning and clearing of accumulated beliefs need to be undertaken. But personas are the symptom and not the cause of this void.
Talking about them, through therapy or through journal writing can bring some of their malfunctions to light, but to get to the root core or cause, of that slippery ego we need to tell it something that requires us to have courage. It requires us to summon within in us a statement that will shatter the illusion of our world and of the personas we think we are.
It requires us to say to the ego: You must die. That’s right, the ego needs to die.
The ego recoils in terror, “But if I die, you won’t exist”,
“If I die, all of you will die and you don’t want that”.
This is a big, fat lie that the ego has constantly perpetuated to keep you from living in a constant state of anxiety.
So, being brave, you need to challenge the ego. Imagine it coming undone, decomposing, rotting in the ground. Imagine it thrown on a pyre and ignited, burning away until nothing but ashes remain. Imagine it hacked to pieces and fed to wild animals to be devoured until no morsel is left.
These might be disturbing images, but your ego stands in the way of the you that is self that is all that is.
Letting it come undone, over and over, in meditation, in writing, in therapy, gives a chance for the True Self to emerge.
You are unwinding a tightly constructed persona-ego pearl and as you do, you will find the grain of sand within you that is the real jewel.
Copyright 2012 Eileen Dey