Eckhart Tolle is one of my favourite authors. He is due all the respect in the world both as a person and as a contributor to human evolution, in my opinion.
Being a contributor in a similar vein of thought, my perspective regarding the dealings with the human ego is different. I think for the purpose of personal enlightenment it is worth comparing the two.
In his newest book, A new Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, the ego is the focus of much of his discussion. For all intents and purposes, I am not in disagreement with the intention or focus of the book.
The difference lies for me in the interpretation of the relationship of the ego to the person who has it.
On page 64, “In this way you are becoming free of the ego, free of the unobserved mind” represents to me that the ego is being treated as a separate entity that has its own identity, capacity and function. It needs to be eliminated much like bad gas.
But isn’t the ego part of the total package?
The ego is a part of the subconscious mind. It serves a very important purpose in our lives. It is an organ that is essential for living.Would we want to be free of our brain, or our stomach? How about our skin?
Similarly, we need to respect our ego as an organ that is vital to functional living. The difference being that the ego is a non-physical organ. It is stimulated into action through a reaction to an external event that reminds it of a situation it has already experienced therefore promoting reactions throughout the being.
Here is a quote from my book Embracing The Blend that relates (page 35)
When fear strikes, it resonates in your mind and body
through your ego. It serves great purpose when it speaks.
It wants to keep you safe. However, when fear is engaged,
if it is powerful enough and if you are not consciously
in control of your mind’s activities, it can inhibit your
ability to really be safe. It limits your consciousness to
those thoughts that are currently provoking the feeling
of fear and the related protective safety mechanisms,
preventing us from making alternative and hopefully,
On page 62 of Eckhart’s book, the statement “Nonreaction to the ego in other is one of the most effective ways not only of going beyond ego in yourself” implies exactly what my intention is in this discourse.
My perspective says that the ego is not to be eliminated and most definitely not to be ignored. What we need is to learn how to manage the ego, to train to it respond effectively rather than by rote.
Much like we train our children to be toilet trained and to be careful when they cross the street, we also need to teach the ego how we want to interact with life. This is an ongoing process for our whole life. The result is freedom from an overactive, fear driven ego and a more peaceful demeanor.
There are two purposes for the ego. One is it is your “cyber wallet” making sure that when you wake up in the morning, you are still Suzie not Robert. The other is as a part of your safety system or your personal radar unit that keeps you aware of your environment.
Many of us have grown up in “dangerous” environments as children where we learned that life was not a safe place to be. Our life has become a never ending drama based on those early lessons.
On page 77, Eckhart states: Yet there is something else in you that wants the drama, wants the conflict. These are the early childhood lessons coming into action in the present from an unconscious part of the mind.
He also states: When the ego is at war, know that it is no more than an illusion that is fighting to survive.
If we can accept that the ego is an essential part of us, but is like an unruly child, I feel that we can have a better understanding of the problem. This would mean, to me anyways, that the ego and the illusion are not the same thing. The ego is just the perpetrator of the illusion. Therefore, it is the illusion that needs to be eliminated, not the ego.
In the next line it is stated that “The ego thinks it is you”.
In my mind, this is the key to the problem. I agree very wholeheartedly! In western society we are raised to believe that “we” are synonymous with our “egos”. And that is the crux of most of the problems beset on our society. We keep trying to understand and justify our lives through our egos. It would be much like letting a 5 year old make all the family decisions.
This does not justify eliminating the ego any more than we would cut off our thumbs so we don’t hitchhike any more.
As I stated earlier, the ego has learned the rules of life in the early years of existence on this plane.
From page 162 of Embracing The Blend:
Depending on how we have learned the rules of life,
even as adults, our mind will always seek out information
to justify its beliefs …until we choose to take control and
make alternative choices that produce new outcomes.
The egoic mind does not care about truth; it only cares
about what it “knows”.
Most of the learning we accepted during our formative
years was provided to us without anyone even having a
clue about what was happening. We watched, listened
and learned each time somebody we trusted, acted out
his or her life before us.
Much of the learning of our childhood was incorrect and learned through reactions to the life events of the time. Those same lessons are still active in any person’s belief systems and will remain active until they are redirected.
My contention, to sum things up for today, is that elimination of the ego is not an effective method for gaining peace in our lives. Peace can be attained by understanding how the ego learned what it knows, followed by diligent and conscious effort to retrain the ego to respond in a more functional manner. Through active consciousness, we can eventually eliminate the veil of illusion and own a healthy functional balanced ego.
The most important thought in this discourse is that no matter what path you find effective for attaining greater peace, beingness and function in your life, be conscious and deliberate about it. The real truth is, if you can get behind both articles, is that they are both saying the same thing, just from different perspectives. Thanks Eckhart!