Monday, October 5, 2009

Stop Writing from the Ego

“Stop writing from your ego.” During a recent meditation session, this was the phrase that cut through the silence. I heard a female voice repeat it several times. Since then I have contemplated what it means to write from one’s ego and how ego impedes not only honest writing, but spiritual progress.

Riddance of ego is a current struggle for me as I attempt to reach a higher spiritual plane and a healthier mental state. In addition to authors whom I do not know personally, the following people have brought this issue to my attention in 2009: Kadam Morten, a local Buddhist teacher, Sean Rachlin, a local acupuncturist and Cindi Sansone-Braff, a local psychic and medium. At each occurrence, my warning to back off of ego was remarkably similar in the words that were said as well as the chosen tone. Kadam Morten repeatedly teaches on recognizing and learning to master the ego in his classes. I heard the more personally directed advice from Sean and Cindi, as one of their many clients.

Since people naturally make decisions from the ego center, it can be remarkably difficult to identify and refrain from this habit. I am well aware of the difficulty in defining the term with precision and I wish to emphasize the importance of context.

Because I am by no means an expert, I am going to quote from Beyond the Frontier of the Mind, by Osho. “This is how a child grows. First he becomes aware of you, thou, other, and then by and by, in contrast to you, thou, he becomes aware of himself. This awareness is a reflected awareness. He is not aware of who he is. He is simply aware of the mother and what she thinks about him. If she smiles, if she appreciates the child, if she says, "You are beautiful," if she hugs and kisses him, the child feels good about himself. Now an ego is born. Through appreciation, love, care, he feels he is good, he feels he is valuable, he feels he has some significance. A center is born. But this center is a reflected center. It is not his real being. He does not know who he is; he simply knows what others think about him. And this is the ego: the reflection, what others think. If nobody thinks that he is of any use, nobody appreciates him, nobody smiles, then too an ego is born: an ill ego; sad, rejected, like a wound; feeling inferior, worthless. This too is the ego. This too is a reflection.” The ego center is that part of us formed by our perception of interactions with others. The self that we perceive is a delusion unless we learn to understand this truth. The ego produces a need to portray and to pretend, to attack and to defend. It is a faulty basis for living. It is a trap. Jean-Paul Sartre said, “L’enfer, c’est les autres,” meaning Hell is other people. This is a true statement only if we are living from our ego center.

How often do we get fired up by the viewpoints, comments and actions of other people? How many times do we get sidetracked or delayed from our purpose by something that originates outside of us? How many hours do we spend fuming, ruminating or scheming when we could be working, relaxing or relating? What do you think about while driving or riding public transportation? The next time you are aware of your thoughts, stop and call them out to yourself. Are they helping you or hurting you? Your intuition will give you the answer.

Lately I have found myself writing in response to an event that has upset me or a person with whom I disagree. I have felt the need to make my own views known in opposition or in contrast to other views. While I do get a dark enjoyment out of this practice, it is not something that feels good. It feels like going for a drive at night to clear your head, when all of a sudden you find yourself on a curvy stretch of road and AC/DC plays on the radio. You speed up and discover just how well your car handles corners, knowing all the while that there is risk involved. It might be fun for a moment, but it’s not the way you really want to live. I don’t think it’s possible to experience peace and adrenaline fueled speed simultaneously. Someone please tell me if I’m wrong, because it’s something I would try at least once!

With respect to writing from ego, the answer came to me today in a Rob Brezsny quote that I read on

“Your drive to produce hard-edged opinions stoked by hostility is likely a sign that you've been brainwashed by the pedestrian influences of pop nihilism”. Awesome. I get it! I then read the follow up testimony from the site editor, Julia Melges-Brenner:

“When I first began to awaken spiritually, I was attending a prestigious university where I was surrounded by intellectuals determined to prove their acumen by endlessly attacking and debating other people's opinions. While I kept my spiritual beliefs to myself for the most part, I found these hard-core skeptics to be utterly brain-washed by the cult of intellectualism. They also struck me as the most angry, depressed group of people I'd ever met, which naturally made me doubt the wisdom of their views.” I don’t know Julia but I would love to meet her. Her statement echoes countless feelings I experienced during my graduate and law school years. I was thinking similar thoughts while riding the subway home from Greenwich Village to the Upper West Side. Damned 1/9 train! Damned intellectuals! Now I’m not proud of those thoughts, but without them I may never have started down this road leading me away from ego.

This essay contains a fair amount of quoted and paraphrased material. Many people quote from scripture to communicate a spiritual lesson. I like to do that too, but for me, sacred scripture is newly spoken every day. So thank you Kadam Morten, Sean, Cindi, Osho, Rob and Julia. If I am lucky enough to continue learning from people such as you, I may eventually be able to stop writing from my ego.


  1. Your post inspired me to look up the definition of Ego.

    One definition was-your consciousness of your own identity.

    If my identity is continually being found in Christ and the freedom that He purchased for me. The free gift of righteousness that He gave me and the grace that continually operates in my life through the power of the Holy Spirit, then, well, that is not a bad thing.

    The other definition is-an inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others.

    If I am operating in this type of "ego" then I have not come to realize the GIFT of grace given to me. I still think that I can somehow earn my way into goodness, therefore, can feel superior because of my own doings.

    These of course, are just the thoughts that came to mind when I read your post. I'm not even sure if this was your point, but I am very "grace minded" and tend to be drawn back to it.

    I really enjoyed this post, it inspired me to think about ego. Thanks! :)~

  2. Daveda,
    Yes, what you say is indeed very close to the message I want to convey. The first definition of ego is the one that I am trying to shake. It is a sort of self-consciousness. I always used to hear "be God conscious, not self conscious" in church. If I can be conscious of Grace and how it operates in my life, and in the world, I will be much closer to my goal. My goal is freedom and she whom the Son has set free is free indeed! :)

  3. Wonderful post Michelle! Thank you for your honesty. I am doing research for a book called 101 Ways To Cook your Ego and stumbled upon you! Imagine my surprise...I like your writing and will continue to spend time reading you. I too am dealing with my little friend Ego..and learning to live without is so hardwired in humans because of our need to create it after separating from source that it controls our reality and shapes anything it wants into anything it wants anytime it wants...and we just accept it and nurture it and stroke it...jeesh!

    If there is one single change we Souls in Human Form could make would be releasing the Ego. Will be stopping in from time to time...see ya.