The Ego is not Our Enemy
Your ego is not bad. In the yoga world we often see people berating the ego. “Ugh, that’s just my ego,” we hear. Or “they are so acting from ego”, with a criticizing the eye-roll. LOL!
Is it the ego that causes our suffering, according to yoga philosophy? And what exactly is the ego?
What is the ego?
According to yoga philosophy we are divine beings having a human experience.
Technically, the ego consists of many things including;
Our thoughts or judgements, such as “I should have woken up earlier”, “I did good in this class” or “this date went well.”
Our emotions such as anger or happiness.
Our bodily sensations, such as pleasure or pain.
Labels, such as “yoga teacher”, “spouse”, “runner” or “Canadian.”
Qualities or traits that we have in our human form, such as “beautiful”, “introvert” or “gifted with languages.”
For example, I have the following traits as a human: I am good at communication and organization. I have patterns of behaviour of overworking, staying too busy, and worrying about my stability as it relates to money. I also have labels, some of them being that I am a married, female yoga teacher who lives in Canada. All of these things make up my ego.
You can think of it like this, the ego is how I identify in human form.
The ego is not good or bad
These qualities and labels aren’t necessarily good or bad. All of these qualities allow me to live out my Dharma or life purpose.
The qualities that we would consider ‘good’ can be seen as tools that help me to contribute to the world and others, while finding purpose and joy in my life. The qualities that we could consider ‘bad’ allow me to learn and grow, thus bringing me back to my truest, highest self.
As you can see, the ego is not ‘bad.”
Where does the suffering come from?
Our suffering comes from our identification with the ego.
When we are ignorant (Avidya) that we are truly divine beings then we get tangled up with our ego and start to believe we are defined by it. We think we are the thoughts, emotions, qualities, and labels. This is the point when we lose sight of our truest Self. This ignorance is one of the obstacles (Kleshas) on the journey to true connection.
Living under the illusion (Maya) that we are the ego is what causes suffering.
Instead of badmouthing the ego, let’s remember that the ego is a blessing to help us live out our Dharma and learn who we really are.. If we are experiencing suffering, it might be helpful to remember who we really are, divine beings, and use the ego as intended, as a tool ☺.