a place of arrival and departure


self and ego

[last updated 12/7/97]

LOADED WORDS, in this culture-- so let's start from scratch. Self has to do with the qualities which make us differ from one another. Rock-bottom self consists of your gifts-- a combination of motivations and abilities, some of which we seem to be born with and some which come to us through upbringing and experience. It's perhaps important to understand that we as individuals didn't create these motivations and abilities ourselves; they were given to us. Perhaps we even arrived here with some of them.


AS WE GROW UP (meaning older), we attempt to develop our given skills, acquire new ones-- and in a truly free, egalitarian society, our motivations will generally not be questioned. We seem to have a built-in desire to be good at something-- a survival skill for ourselves and our culture-- but the way we socialize and thus measure how good we are involves using the eyes and values of others to assess how well we're doing. This comes first from our parents, then from our peers.

The ego is just a useful fiction.
Use it, but don't be deceived by it.
Osho

IN ADOLESCENCE we are often torn between establising our identities and being accepted by our peers. Both motivations are natural; both involve behavior which is designed to get the results we want. This is ego-- a selfconsciousness which can be narcissistic, selfish, and manipulative of others. Motivational focus shifts to how others see you, and is largely based on shaping your "personality" to get the results you want from others. One's ego-personna may or may not be you, and chances are it won't be. Hierarchical, power-based, rule-oriented societies (and similar organized religions) have a vested interest in destroying your self and making you pure ego-- their manipulation of you is complete when your sole motivation is "being" what they want you to be-- however contradictory it may be to the self you were born as.

Recent history is the record of one vast conspiracy to
impose one level of mechanical consciousness on mankind

Allen Ginsburg

THE BEST, most complete explantion of ego, its true character, and its dangers, can be found in Osho's Ego - The False Center

IN AN IDEAL, egalitarian society-- even tribal perhaps-- ego would be minimally engaged in one's adolescence as a natural constituent of attaining skills and social identity-- social place within a minimal pecking order-- more a component of the powerful curiosity involved in discovering one's true self-- and exploring and finding a rewarding and constructive place in this wonderful and awesome universe.
IN OUR hierarchical, specialized, mass-production industrialized society, other-directed (from the top) ego-conditioning starts at an early age and becomes intense and sustained in our schools. Industrial society seems to have a special vested interest in eradicating all notions of wonder and "magic"-- natural concepts for children (why not adults?)-- and substituting a limited, mechanistic/utilitarian view of the world, tightly constrained by a complex system of rules based on rewards and punishments which fit the mechanistic picture, not the humans concerned or the care and nuture of this planet which gives us life. The complexity of the rules is intentional too, to enable and justify the vast numbers of otherwise unproductive parasites to whom we're forced to go for interpretation-- and who, of course, spend their lives adding yet more byzantine complexity to our lives. By the time high school is finished, we've been brainwashed if not brain-restructured. It's about this time that teenagers and parents often view each other as alien life-forms, though some teens probably don't view adults as life forms at all, and still others have become so alienated from adults through the entire tedious process of forcing them into groups and "nailing" them to classroom chairs for years they join gangs and learn to excel at killing us and each other. Both James Redfield and I have more to say on the subject of schools, learning, and the adult role in all this.
IN MODERN western industrial societies, occupational specialization invites a recurring anonymity which seems to require the continual re-invention of attractive (or at least employable) personnas (egos-- artificial personalities). Many of us have vastly busy lives to the age of (say) 40-- 35 years of school, relationships, parenting and work based completely on ego-based conditioning-- and find ourselves divorced and unemployed. We are confused, exhausted and sometimes devastated; yet our ruthless ego-based culture demands that we re-manufacture yet another new and attractive identity, usually at further great cost to our true selves. This ego-driven and outwardly-imposed identity crisis is often called mid-life crisis. It's at this point many of us find ourselves realizing what utter manipulative bullshit we've been chasing all those years-- and how un-fulfilling the whole absurd chase has been-- because the nature of an ego- driven society is all artificial illusion and a denial of true self.
IT'S AT THIS point that we need to choose to overcome the fear and grow beyond ego.

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1997 aeromax@primary.net


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