I just had a ‘conversation’ with a student, where I suggested that she uses ego to support her growth.
From her answers it has become clear that ‘using ego’ is not a commonplace conversation, and that it needs instruction.
Culture condemns ego… as if it were a bad thing.
So let’s see what ego is, and what it isn’t.
Ego is a lot like a kitchen knife: you can use it for good, for useful, or for harm… kill with it. You can also use it to clean it under your nails… somewhat useful, but not the right tool…
You can also call it bad, and ban it from your house. It is also a lot like a nail. It concentrates the energy so it can cut through thick planks of wood… or thick planks of resistance…
I was looking for pictures for this article… in vain. All memes, all pictures said: do away with the ego, it’s bad.
You can see that this is a big conspiracy to strip you of your power. To turn you into powerless limp d-i-c-k. Bleating sheep. Without the ego you are soft, with high aspirations and no power, no bones, no muscles, no strength.
Recognize yourself? Good… now get to work. Strengthen and direct ego to help you become worth a damn. It is never too late. Those who laugh last laugh best.
By the way, the people who are enlightened: got the joke played on them. Maybe that is what enlightenment is? Do you get the joke played on you?
Hey, I never said that ignorance is bliss… someone else said it. I believe that ignorance is not bliss, it is a hindrance.
So what is ego?
Physically, experientially it has a shape of a triangle sitting on its side (stable). Its peak is at the throat. Its bottom side is from armpit to armpit. So the gloom and doom the pressure you feel there is ego telling you to get off your ass and do something useful. It feels like a tension, often confused for fear. Or the oft heard excuse: no matter what I do… add whiny voice here.
Easiest to see what ego can do, willing to do, is saying: the ego is the Selfish Gene.
The Selfish Gene is interested in you, the vehicle, to be successful in the world, so you can successfully propagate yourself, and the Selfish Gene.
So we can see that the Selfish Gene, aka Ego, has a worldly component… succeeding in the world. Extrinsic values.
The intrinsic Self, also in every human, is going for intrinsic values, satisfaction, fulfillment, enjoyment, competence, creation… while the Ego goes for worldly, extrinsic values.
It’s undeniable that extrinsic values will raise your status in the world and make you more likely to spread your genes.
The 67 steps program is all about extrinsic values. Succeeding extrinsically.
If we look at psychology, especially the work of Maslow, the hierarchy of needs fame, you need to fulfill on the extrinsic values needed for the world, for living, before you can have energy, glycogen, strength, and even desire, to become effective in the higher regions of needs, the spiritual needs.
So if your intrinsic Self isn’t talking to you yet, it is because you are not worth a damn in the world, or not as much as you could and maybe even ‘should’…
So it is ego’s job to fuel you to become worth a damn.
Your spiritual aspirations are a pretense, to avoid becoming worth a damn.
You are putting the cart in front of the horse.
Why? Because extrinsic values need you to put out effort, to deal with adversity, unpleasantness, hardship, going without, sacrifice.
In the world of extrinsic values, you can’t get something for nothing. If you feel that you have… look what you gave for it. Often it is prostitution… prostitution of your values, your freedom, your autonomy…
All the worthless Law of Attraction teachings are fueling the pretense… The extrinsic values don’t respond to the kaka principles of the ‘Law of Attraction’ aka manifestation techniques.
The exceptions they talk about are not exceptions.
The more someone has the more is given to them…
As long as you are not worth a damn, you are among the ‘does not have’.
For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.
I am not a Bible loving person, but this Bible quote, no matter what translation I have looked at, is true in the context I am talking about: extrinsic and intrinsic values.
When we talk about values, they are something to have, like a result. Like riches, or comfort, or being thin and vibrant.
Because of lack of distinction often the name of a value is the same as the capacity to produce that value is.
- For example: you can have kind as a capacity, and you can have kindness as a result.
- You can have diligent as a capacity, and diligence as a result, aka value.
- You can have happy as a capacity and feeling happy as a result.
- You can have The Sight capacity, and seeing as a result.
You use, you work the capacity to produce the result.
At this day and age, it seems that people want the results without any work, any effort, any usage of capacities.
Magical thinking. Being stuck in religion, being stuck in fairy tales, being stuck at an age of 3-4 years old.
But I am good! But I am kind! But I help the needy! You cry… but consider that in the world of values, in the dominion of the extrinsic, you are not worth a damn.
You can’t do things that produce value. Or you won’t… The result is the same: no value is produced.
And as long as you are not a value creator in the world, you will not experience the intrinsic values either… there is an order in the Universe… Bummer, eh?
But why won’t you, why can’t you experience the intrinsic values? Because ego won’t let you.
You see, if you are not worth a damn, chances are your offspring is the same…
If you gave birth to three children, and they are addicts, escapists, try to scrape by on one skill, on one value… you did not assure the survival of your genes… because eventually they will die off.
Ego, the Selfish Gene can see that. You are now propagating the idea of ‘do as little as possible’ to your offspring.
Now, what happens if you start working towards becoming worth a damn? Your children are off doing their own thing! are you now supposed to herd them and fix them?
No. Your job is with yourself.
I know, it sounds silly… after all if the Selfish Gene is concerned with your progeny… why would it help you become the best version of you AFTER you have already screwed up!
The Selfish Gene doesn’t know that you are done.
I am 73, obviously not in childbearing age, and yet the Selfish Gene is working in me in overtime.
Because, it seems, the Selfish Gene is not done…
I am not saying it makes sense, I am saying it is so.
In the 67 steps Coaching, my program, it is all about becoming worth a damn. So people first need to come down to earth. Some do, some don’t.
The ones that do eventually get to a place where they can harness the ego, and allow it to help them become worth a damn… and be in the position to earn the intrinsic values… peace, fulfillment, feeling worthy, and joy…
You need to ride the horse in the direction it’s going.
When you try the opposite, your experience of life is that it stinks.
Here is an excerpt of my conversation from this morning on the 67 step coaching:
I didn’t have time to listen to the whole interview of Rob Brezsny.
But somewhere he says: the way he became a famous astrologer is that he pulled the ego from there… Put ego into being a poet… because you have to put ego somewhere… or it will screw you.
You have an ego for a reason.
And in the process of pursuing poetry, his career as an astrologer has risen and is still rising.
Incredibly valuable… where could you put your ego to work for you?
…where could you put your ego to work for you?
My first thought on this yesterday was to put my ego to work in my writing. Then my ‘analyst’ kicked in and said ‘no’, I already have ego attached to my writing and I have to watch that I don’t write ‘with too much certainty’.
But, some of my stuff does touch lightly on prose poetry because I enjoy the sound of language and use of metaphors. Brezsny calls poetry art, which, allows for a ‘more spacious and philosophical approach’ and I think that takes the edge off the ‘literal’.
put the ego somewhere where unless you have ego’s energy-support, you probably won’t go far, because it is hard, or maybe even hopeless.
When I said, more than 20 years ago ‘There is no way I am going to be anything less than magnificent’ I successfully activated ego.
Why do I need ego there? Because for others, for getting by, ordinary effort plus excuses is fine.
So I use the ego to cut out the excuse the justification machine ‘why I could not do, why I can’t do’ what is extraordinary, what is hard.
So I practice. Continually. All the time.
Last winter, and I couldn’t close the windows in my office… They were swollen from the rains. So I was working in the cold house, 45 degrees, 7 degrees Celsius, and I did it without much complaining, even to myself.
I wore warm clothes, I had a floor rug heater under my foot by my computer, etc. I was well, thank you very much. And I felt like a million bucks. Definitely magnificent… lol.
It’s summer now, occasionally searing hot. I take frequent cold showers, wear no clothes in the office, and use the fan. No air conditioner. Drink a lot of energized water.
I feel like a million bucks. Definitely magnificent. I am giggling now.
My life is a series of practices to be ‘not anything less than magnificent.’
Of course I have my own interpretation of what magnificent is… what I value… For others, magnificent may be flashy. Or famous. Or rich.
Words mean nothing until YOU say them.
The less they mean the more potent they are… by the way.
I also have ego’s support in becoming less blunt, more accepting, and less intolerant of other people’s weaknesses. To become a kinder person.
I imagine I would not drag a baby out of the cradle harshly… and because the world is full of babies, I now occasionally succeed at being gentle.
It doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to have ego’s support.
It is ordinary for others, but hugely extraordinary to me. I saw this even clearer through my chat with my nephew the other day… it is not my family tradition. Harshness is. Bluntness is. Being closed is. Being dismissive is.
Now, let’s look at the behaviors, the attitudes that I am using ego’s help to alter.
My personality won’t change. My behavior will change as a result of ego telling me what behavior has more extrinsic value than another.
Being gentle may allow me to get through to people. Same message, said differently.
They came for help… and I did not scare them away. Extrinsic value. Marketable. Worth throwing money at. People can become clients and pay me, so I can have more life. Totally extrinsic.
Now, in the process I also feel better about myself and my life. That is intrinsic value.
This is how life is layered.
But without providing extrinsic value, feeling better would have been a mirage, a wish, but no substance.
Learn to create a context that will take you all the way to the top, or through hardship…
Go to step 2