Eckhart Tolle starts chapter 3 titled “The core of Ego” by pointing out that most people identify so completely with the voice in their head that they could be described as being entirely possessed by their mind. Because of this they believe that their thinking mind to be who they truly are. This is described as the Egoic mind. Eckhart Tolle suggests that when you use the word I it is the ego that is talking. This egoic mind identifies itself with opinions, positions, cultural and racial affiliations. While on the surface there may be differences between egos the underlying structure is the same for all people. They are based on identification and separation.
Complaining and resentment
Eckhart Tolle suggests that complaining is a way of ego making itself stronger. Along with complaining resentment is another emotion that as even more energy to the ego. The ego can not only complain about people it can also feel resentment towards situations. In essence they can make enemy of the particular situation saying that you don’t deserve what has happened to them.
Reactivity and grievances
Eckhart Tolle describes a resentment that has been held for a long time as a grievance. Grievances can occur not only on the individual level but also as a group or a nation. This can lead to a perpetual cycle of violence. Grievances can be allowed to contaminate all areas of someone’s life and distort perception of what is happening in the present moment. Eckhart Tolle explains that when you see that grievances and no other purpose but to strengthen the ego you can become free of this long held resentment.
Being right, making wrong
In order for the ego to survive there needs to be boundaries and separateness. One of the ways that it achieves this is by finding faults in others. When you complain about another person or situation there is a direct implication that you are superior and right. Tolle suggests that there is nothing that strengthens ego or than the idea of being right.
In defence of an illusion
Tolle points out that facts definetly do exist. He uses the example of light travelling faster than sound. When you simply state the fact the ego is not involved in the process. But if you feel the need to argue your point when someone doesn’t believe what you have stated then the ego becomes part of the process. The truth doesn’t need a defence. What you are defending as your illusionary idea of yourself.
Truth: Relative Or Absolute?
The idea that one person or group is right and another is wrong is a very dangerous concept. Tolle illustrates this by talking about how narrow interpretations of Scripture by the church have lead to people being killed. He also uses it the example of Pol Pot in Cambodia who killed one million of its own people because he believed that the Marxist interpretation of history was entirely true. Based on these beliefs he deemed that the bourgeoisie were exploiting the peasants and they needed to be exterminated. If you use your belief that your religion is the only true then you are using it in the service of your ego. This causes division and complex with other people. Tolle suggests that only your very being as the truth.
Ego is not personal
Throughout the world we conclude nation, religion and try to believe that they have sole possession of the true. Because they are not willing to accommodate any other version of the truth they are incapable of seeing another person’s perspective. This allows them to dehumanize their enemies which can lead to violence on a massive scale.
War is a mindset
Tolle suggests that while war may be necessary in some limited circumstances to protect yourself and others it is dangerous to make a mission of trying to eradicate a particular “evil”. He states that whatever you choose to fight you will strengthen and whatever you choose to resist or persist. To illustrate this point he refers to the “war on drugs” which has increased the prison population of the United States from 300,000 in 1980 to 2.1 million in 2004. When people are in the mindset of “war” their perceptions become highly selective and distorted.
Do you want peace or drama?
Humans have an innate desire for peace. But they also have a desire to complex. Tolle asks the question whether you would prefer to be right and then at peace.
Beyond ego: your true identity
All that is required for someone to become free of the ego is to be aware of it. This is because ego and awareness are incompatible with one another. Awareness is the power that is found in the present moment. This is why it is called presence. It is only by being present in the moment that we can become free of our ego.
All structures are unstable
Ego always wants something from other people and situations. It always has a hidden agenda. It uses people and situations to get what it wants. But when it gets what I want it doesn’t stay satisfied with very long. This means that people are either in a state of desire or anguish. They are constantly dissatisfied.
The ego’s need to feel superior
We can feel superior to other people when we have knowledge that they don’t have. This is one of the reasons why we can feel pleasure by gossiping about other people. Gossiping also bring the superiority of placing judgement on other people. When someone seems to know more or can do more than we can the ego starts to feel threatened. In order to restore our sense of ego we criticize them in order to diminish that other person.
Ego and fame
Tolle states that our modern world completely overvalues fame. He suggests that this is one of the most distinct manifestations of egoic madness in the world. This is madness because people’s perception of famous people are entirely obscured by the collective mental image of that person. In addition celebrities sometimes begin to identify themselves with that false image. By identifying with this “superior” image they become reliant on. Famous people as a result find it very difficult to have genuine relationships with other people. A genuine relationship as not dominated by the ego. IA genuine relationship is open and attentive towards the other person without wanting anything from them in return.
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