Ego is separation personified. That role is neither bad nor wrong. Rather, it is essential to engaging in the physical realm. Underpinning the creation and design of “Earth Game” is the desire of the creator – “Consciousness” – to know itself. To do that, an element of separation is necessary. Consciousness thus becomes the observer; Ego becomes the observed as it engages in the physical realm. Ego serves as the mirror through which Consciousness can look upon itself.
Such separation is of course illusion; we are all of the One. But it is an essential illusion. The feeling of separateness is hardwired into the physical brain – which constructs the persona of “Ego”. Even when the speck of Consciousness that each of us truly is catches a glimpse through the illusion, there is still the observer and the observed – only now we become both observer and observed. Duality personified: we are both Self and Ego, spirit and matter, ethereal and corporeal, consciousness and brain, mind and body.
Clearly, it is not about getting rid of Ego. It is our interface with physical reality. It is through Ego that we see and hear and smell and taste and touch the physical world. Ego does that through the physical brain, which is designed to be taken in by the illusions of physicality. However, as we have seen (see my earlier article “Your Three Brains”) the consciousness that is you is much more than your physical brain.
To the extent that your physical brain and the Ego it constructs focus on interfacing with the wonders of the physical realm, no problem. Where things invariably get complicated is when Ego perceives three kinds of problems and goes about addressing them. The first problem Ego tackles is to ensure physical survival, safety, and security. We can’t fault Ego for wanting to perpetuate its (separate) existence. But, physical survival, for most of us, is rarely the problem of the day.
Beyond survival, safety, and security, Ego has two compelling needs, i.e., two additional problems that it will try to solve. The first is love and connection; the second is meaning and mattering.
The first of these problems that Ego feels it must solve is the loneliness that comes with believing that it is separate and apart from each and every other emanation of Consciousness.
The second problem Ego must solve is the possibility that its very existence is without meaning or mattering. Ego finds itself alone as it navigates within “Earth Game”. It must find something to dispel the hollow notion that existence in this realm is only a “tale told by an idiot … signifying nothing”.
Ego’s solutions to these two problems are to (i) earn love and (ii) achieve external recognition. Make the team, achieve physical beauty, find the mate, grab the brass ring, amass wealth, build the grandest castle, become famous, leave a legacy that will somehow endure the sands of time, save the planet from some peril; whatever. Always vigilant, always on edge; Ego can readily see how fleeting adulation and fame can be.
There is a different way to approach these two problems, where you keep Ego on the bench instead of on the playing field. Ego isn’t going to perceive itself as being part and parcel of a Oneness. But you can. Ego (i.e., your physical brain) is hard-wired to experience itself as separate from everyone and everything, but you are not. There are two doorways you can slip through that can change everything.
The first is to bring yourself to feel what I call “Divine Love”. The stuff of interconnection permeates this reality. Whether you want to think of it as a “quantum strong force” that holds it all together or the “dark energy” that appears to constitute most of what is in this Universe, or perhaps just the “Divine Feminine”, you can find your way to sensing its realness. Your heart centre (what I have called your “Feeling Brain”) can feel that Divine Love – and bask in it. (Seriously, take just a moment, and feel for that love.)
Divine Love is not earned, and cannot be earned; it is given. Further, it is freely given. And it is always given. Ego can be freed from the impossible task of earning love.
Similarly, Ego can be freed from the task of gaining recognition. The second doorway is to let yourself sense what I will call “Divine Recognition”. Just as the Divine Feminine invariably loves you, the Divine Masculine invariably knows you. It sees you, recognizes you. It knows your provenance, feels your uniqueness, and senses your purpose and your destiny. Just as love is a given, recognition is a given.
Once you can begin to let in these two fundamental truths, you can release Ego from the need to earn love and the need to gain recognition. You can gently remind Ego, as often as it becomes distracted by those perceived needs, with these words: Not your job.
If you find the above to be too abstract or too arcane, you can simply develop the habit of asking yourself two simple questions as you go about your “doings”. Am I doing this to earn love? And, Am I doing this to gain recognition? If so, flip the switch to (i) receiving love, and (ii) contributing your gifts, talents, and uniqueness. And, playing the game. As often as you can remember to do that, you are repurposing Ego.
To express this in a practical example, think of a job interview. You are probably at your least impressive when you are trying to impress or, worse yet, fearful of making a poor impression. As opposed to when you focus on what you can bring to and contribute to the prospective employer. We may not recognize Ego-at-work in ourselves, but we certainly spot it in others. Conversely, we are wowed and moved when we witness any kind of peak performance where Ego seems somehow absent and something magical takes over in a transcendent moment.
Moments of “peak performance” illustrate the stark difference between an Ego-driven life and one where Ego is freed from earning love and gaining recognition. Think of the big game, the big performance, the big moment. Ego will want to knock it out of the park, make the fans go wild, make an impression. And it will overthink the moment as it tries to figure out how to do all that. The pressure becomes too much; Ego crashes and burns. Ego forgets the words to the song, instead of stepping aside and letting the song sing the singer. Everything is moving too fast, it’s all a blur – in direct contrast with the wondrous peak performance sensation of time slowing down.
In the moment, in the zone. You can live there. But not if Ego is asked to carry the ball. Instead, turn to the heart – the “Feeling Brain” – to be “in the moment”. And, turn to the “Intuitive Brain” to be “in the zone”. (My earlier article “Your Three Brains” might usefully be read as a companion piece to this essay.)
Freed, you will never know in the moment the why of it or where it will lead, but you will know what to do. Which is all you will ever need.
Will it all lead to fame and fortune? Perhaps, and perhaps not. The beautiful thing is that you don’t need to care where the road leads. If you can know that it will be a path of abundance, joy, and love, surely there is no need to fuss the details. As for Ego’s role in that path forward, all it needs to do is keep an eye on the ball and follow the yellow brick road – i.e., focus (per those two metaphors) on being the interface with whatever physical reality is at hand.
A new kind of freedom comes into play. With Ego freed from the need to win love and achieve recognition, it can focus on experiencing and engaging with the physical realm. With Ego no longer fixated on whether the outcome will be winning or losing, it can focus on playing the game.
There is still “doing” to be done in that freedom, but it is no longer doing for the purpose of meeting needs. The need for connection and love is met, as is the need for meaning and mattering. Your doing no longer need be focused on meeting those needs. Rather, it can be focused on expressing your uniqueness and your gifts and your talents. Those pull you forward rather than driving you from behind as things you have to do. To be sure, you may find on your path all kinds of love and connection and mattering and recognition and reward. But you will no long feel driven by a hollowness that haunts your Ego.
With all of the “haftas” out of the way, joy fills the space. Life becomes “the play of God” (by which I intend the double entendre of God’s theatre and God’s fun).
When I follow my own advice on all this, I can feel Ego breathe a sigh of relief. Freed from responsibility for solving problems it is not equipped to solve, it can play at Earth Game. Daily activities become like a pickleball game; I win some, I lose some, but there is no reason to ever stop smiling. Because life becomes play. And “Earth Game” becomes a joyride.
I titled this article “Repurposing Ego”, because that is where you begin. But in the end, it becomes “Liberating Ego”. May a beautiful freedom beckon to you and call you forward.