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Moving beyond the ego is critical to discovering our higher consciousness, and true life purpose March 4, 2007

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Ego Management.
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The ego and its constant invasion of our real consciousness can present a roadblock that we need to overcome for an effective personal development program to manifest.

On the subject of personal development, and self-improvement generally, I recently got into a discussion as to whether a person can change their basic emotional make-up, or whether changes are possible largely only to a person’s behavior. The conclusion the discussion came to was that it is easier to change our behaviors than it is to change our basic character traits.

For example, as someone who does many things at the last minute, I could work hard at doing things ahead of time, of “doing it now” of not putting things off, but it would be a behavioral change, not a true underlying character change, because my preference would likely be to still want to procrastinate. However, on the other hand, perhaps if a person who normally procrastinates constantly did things ahead of time, it could become firmly engrained in their character trait make-up.

This discussion was prompted by my talking about the personal growth possibilities inherent in Eckhart Tolle’s book,  “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.”  In A New Earth, which I am about halfway through reading, Tolle has devoted a considerable portion of the book to the ego.

For Tolle, the ego, and I am simplifying and interpreting, is that portion of our awareness that is constantly evaluating and making judgments on events, circumstances and things. The ego constantly judges external “reality” or everything going on outside ourselves.

Among other attributes, the ego is that never-ending chattering in our heads which often reviews over and over events or circumstances from the past and projects evaluations into the future – often negatively. For Tolle, however, our ego is not our true identity, and to have peace within, our purpose is to discover who we really are.

Tolle Says, “Every ego confuses opinions and viewpoints with facts. Furthermore, it cannot tell the difference between an event and its reaction to that event. Every ego is a master of selective impression and distorted interpretation. Only through awareness – not through thinking – can you differentiate between fact and opinion.”

Tolle is of the view that who we really are is well hidden beneath the constant stream of thinking from the ego: “Most people are so completely identified with the voice in the head – the incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it – that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind. As long as you are completely unaware of this, you take the thinker to be who you are.”

Another major aspect of the book is the importance to all of us of living in the “now”, instead of in the past and future. One of the ways we can do this according to Tolle is to recognize the ego for what it is, to make effort to move beyond it, and thereby the fully appreciate the present moment.

I am finding A New Earth a deep philosophical work, which is not only going to require re-reading and noting of particular passages, but also a work that will need study and comparative readings to get its whole benefit. One of the aspects I like about the book is Tolle’s tendency to name spiritual leaders, especially those in the past, who have been the great wisdom teachers and providing examples of their teachings. I’m looking forward to finishing my reading of this book and then trying to put its principles into practice.

The edition of the book that I am reading is in hardcover. The pages discussing the publishing information, says that it is “published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. It also says, “This is a Namaste Publishing Book.” First printing October 2005. Eckhart Tolle has also written the following books: The Power of Now; Practicing the Power of Now; and Stillness Speaks.

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