| Anne Williamson |
Oh, the ego! Such a tiny word, so many disparate opinions. Am I to love my ego or hate it? Embrace it or reject it? Is ambivalence a healthy choice?
For me, the jury is still out. However, I did recently run across an illuminating perspective. It comes from Vedic philosophy. (The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in India 3000 years ago; they are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.) In this philosophy, there is a Sanskrit term ahamkara that is related to the ego. Essentially, my true self or soul, atma, enters a state of ahamkara when my mind begins identifying this true self/soul with external things, whether they be material (e.g., my body, possessions, kids) or conceptual (e.g. my thoughts, memories, preferences). In the Vedic tradition, this identification is an illusion.
In connecting this perspective to the Western term ego, some say ahamkara is the ego, others that the ego helps construct the illusion. Either way, my own experience supports this Vedic idea that to connect to - perhaps even reside in - my true self or soul is to stop my mind from identifying so heavily with the material or conceptual things around it. The truest, wisest part of me - the part that knows what really matters, what brings me real joy, what lessons I'm here to learn - is most accessible when I'm not in a state of ahamkara.
I don't necessarily think this means the ego is entirely bad....