Understanding The Ego

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Understanding The Ego

Postby Lotus Lion » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:00 am

Hi Everyone,

We speak of Ego but i wish to understand this in greater detail.

From my current understanding, the Ego is the belief in a separate self. It refers to someone who has an exaggerated sense of importance and is the conscious aspect of ourselves.

Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ego

I have also read material from Freud who essentially says that the Ego is the interface between our instincts and conscience, attempting to maintain a happy medium to satisfy both parties.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego,_and_super-ego

However, I also came across an article which says that the Ego is basically a set of filters that have been created from interacting with the world, coloring and influencing our understanding when something happens:

Source: http://www.urbanmonk.net/59/what-your-e ... onal-love/

It could therefore be argued that there are several understandings on the Ego morphing not only from person to person, but also through the passages of time.

Perhaps it is information overload, but at the moment i feel that the Ego is it is a mixture of what Freud says, what is discussed at http://www.urbanmonk.net and essentially amounts to walking through life looking at it wearing a pair of goggles created by our interactions, but I wish to clarify before continuing.

Also, understanding what the Ego is from a Buddhist and 'Dharmic' perspective would help put everything in the right context, especially since there are different view on this and becoming Egoless is, i believe, something quite central to Buddhism.

Source: http://www.shambhala.com/html/learn/fea ... -marks.cfm

Your thoughts please,

Lotus
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby 5heaps » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:59 pm

What Is the Self, Does the Self Have a Beginning, Will It Have an End?

the Buddha identified 5 heaps (groups) of stuff that creatures are made out of. form, discrimination, feeling, mental factors, and mind. ego/persons mainly has to do with mind. its explained in abundant detail, best done with an excellent teacher.

the point is not so much this psychoanalysis stuff where you mix and match learned concepts and past experiences. it is more about perceiving the nature of those things and of the mind that is doing it.
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby ground » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:56 am

Lotus Lion wrote:Hi Everyone,

We speak of Ego but i wish to understand this in greater detail.


"Ego" is a term applied in psychology and psychoanalysis. "Buddhism" is neither "psychology" nor "psychoanalysis".
Buddhism is concerned with the arising of "I" and "mine".

Kind regards
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby Individual » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:35 am

Lotus Lion wrote:Hi Everyone,

We speak of Ego but i wish to understand this in greater detail.

From my current understanding, the Ego is the belief in a separate self. It refers to someone who has an exaggerated sense of importance and is the conscious aspect of ourselves.

Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/ego

I have also read material from Freud who essentially says that the Ego is the interface between our instincts and conscience, attempting to maintain a happy medium to satisfy both parties.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego,_and_super-ego

However, I also came across an article which says that the Ego is basically a set of filters that have been created from interacting with the world, coloring and influencing our understanding when something happens:

Source: http://www.urbanmonk.net/59/what-your-e ... onal-love/

It could therefore be argued that there are several understandings on the Ego morphing not only from person to person, but also through the passages of time.

Perhaps it is information overload, but at the moment i feel that the Ego is it is a mixture of what Freud says, what is discussed at http://www.urbanmonk.net and essentially amounts to walking through life looking at it wearing a pair of goggles created by our interactions, but I wish to clarify before continuing.

Also, understanding what the Ego is from a Buddhist and 'Dharmic' perspective would help put everything in the right context, especially since there are different view on this and becoming Egoless is, i believe, something quite central to Buddhism.

Source: http://www.shambhala.com/html/learn/fea ... -marks.cfm

Your thoughts please,

Lotus

As I see it, the Buddhist understanding of the ego falls into three basic categories:
  • Denying whatever might be called the self -- primarily associated with Theravada
  • The search for a "higher" or "truer" self -- primarily associated with Mahayana
  • The highest realization of not/self -- neither denying things as self, nor searching for a mystical, transcendental self

TMingyur wrote:
Lotus Lion wrote:Hi Everyone,

We speak of Ego but i wish to understand this in greater detail.


"Ego" is a term applied in psychology and psychoanalysis. "Buddhism" is neither "psychology" nor "psychoanalysis".
Buddhism is concerned with the arising of "I" and "mine".

Kind regards

You could say that, but Buddhism shares many similarities with it. Psychoanalysis is different from mainstream psychiatry in that it involves the personal analysis of the patient, with lots of stuff being drawn from intuition and experience, whereas psychiatry relies on diagnosis via pre-defined criteria and treatment via specific techniques (mimicking regular medicine). In this sense, the psychoanalyst takes the place of the guru or the Buddha.

A lot of what Freud said could be compared with Buddhist thought. This makes sense, because he seems to have been influenced by ancient Greek thought (his threefold division of the mind is essentially the same as Plato's threefold divisions of the soul), and ancient Greek thought was influenced by Buddhism. :)
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby catmoon » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:54 am

Given the multiple meanings of the word given in the OP, I'd avoid using it unless the context made the meaning unmistakable. I'd especially avoid it in Buddhist discussions.
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby Lotus Lion » Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:15 pm

Hi,

Thank you for the responses so far.
catmoon wrote:Given the multiple meanings of the word given in the OP, I'd avoid using it unless the context made the meaning unmistakable. I'd especially avoid it in Buddhist discussions.

I normally do as much research as possible before asking and found several understandings on this topic. Felt it would be OK to show my findings as it were and share my thoughts also, even if it was a little basic and haphazard for a starting point.

From what i have read, striving for a state of Egolessness is an essential part of The Dharma.

I came across the following:

The Five Skandhas
The Buddhist doctrine of egolessness seems to be a bit confusing to westerners. I think this is because there is some confusion as to what is meant by ego. Ego, in the Buddhist sense, is quite different from the Freudian ego. The Buddhist ego is a collection of mental events classified into five categories, called skandhas, loosely translated as bundles, or heaps.

If we were to borrow a western expression, we could say that "in the beginning" things were going along quite well. At some point, however, there was a loss of confidence in the way things were going. There was a kind of primordial panic which produced confusion about what was happening. Rather than acknowledging this loss of confidence, there was an identification with the panic and confusion. Ego began to form. This is known as the first skandha, the skandha of form.

After the identification with confusion, ego begins to explore how it feels about the formation of this experience. If we like the experience, we try to draw it in. If we dislike it, we try to push it away, or destroy it. If we feel neutral about it, we just ignore it. The way we feel about the experience is called the skandha of form; what we try to do about it is known as the skandha of impulse/perception.

The next stage is to try to identify, or label the experience. If we can put it into a category, we can manipulate it better. Then we would have a whole bag of tricks to use on it. This is the skandha of concept. The final step in the birth of ego, is called the skandha of consciousness. Ego begins to churn thoughts and emotions around and around. This makes ego feel solid and real. The churning around and around is called samsara -- literally, to whirl about. The way ego feels about its situation (skandha of feeling) determines which of the six realms of existence it creates for itself.

Source: http://dharma.ncf.ca/introduction/overview.html

Which was essentially what 5Heaps spoke of. From what i understand on the formation of the Skandha's, it is the birth\growth of the Ego?
The article provided is also proving to be quite insightful.

Individual wrote:A lot of what Freud said could be compared with Buddhist thought. This makes sense, because he seems to have been influenced by ancient Greek thought (his threefold division of the mind is essentially the same as Plato's threefold divisions of the soul), and ancient Greek thought was influenced by Buddhism. :)

Would it therefore be fair to say that Buddhism also teaches of the threefold divison of the mind on some level also?

Thanking you for your patience,

Lotus
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby 5heaps » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:17 pm

Lotus Lion wrote:Which was essentially what 5Heaps spoke of. From what i understand on the formation of the Skandha's, it is the birth\growth of the Ego?
what the article says is a helpful idea but its a sort of a "western humanistic buddhism" version. a standard and accepted explanation would be: Basic Scheme of the Five Aggregate Factors of Experience


to answer your question very seriously, the five heaps/aggregates/piles/skandhas (including "you" as a person) arise in this life in dependence on causes and conditions. ignorance too arises and it effects the mind and the person. thus the person and mind is inclined towards grasping at deluded appearances of permanence, substantial existence, and inherent existence.

with deluded appearances come distorted thoughts, cognitions, emotions, concepts, etc that are superimposed on the person. in a sense the person struggling with these distortions is the ego.
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby muni » Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:14 am

Concept by misperception through duality, a cut of subject-object in how all is. Guru Rinpoche said that ego arises from that where is nothing to label. This becomes solid, mind's display gets labels like this and that, possesions, senses and objects and so on.
Mispercieving "concept ego" starts interactive conceptual games, in which it is convinced the truth is to find within its' own habits, within its' protected prison which is great. Minds' seemingly "outer" display (interaction of own mind!) there it runs full of wrong ones.
Ego's action is not really correcting-helping in right compassion through wisdom, but judgements and so on by duality.

Ego is our only enemy. It needs no judgement but clarity in the misperception.
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:00 pm

Lotus Lion wrote:
Individual wrote:A lot of what Freud said could be compared with Buddhist thought. This makes sense, because he seems to have been influenced by ancient Greek thought (his threefold division of the mind is essentially the same as Plato's threefold divisions of the soul), and ancient Greek thought was influenced by Buddhism. :)

Would it therefore be fair to say that Buddhism also teaches of the threefold divison of the mind on some level also?

Perhaps not explicitly, but it could be arranged similarly:

  • Superego: Buddha-nature, Luminous Mind, Nibbana, Enlightenment
  • Id: Fetters, Hindrances, Craving, Attachment, Self
  • Ego: What you typically feel, such as right now, as the mediator between Id and Superego

These are simplifications, though, and a clever person could point out various ways in which the two models are not identical.

In terms of Plato's tri-part theory of the soul...

Superego=Spirited Soul
Id=Hungry Soul
Ego=Rational Soul
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby muni » Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:06 am

5heaps wrote:What Is the Self, Does the Self Have a Beginning, Will It Have an End?

the Buddha identified 5 heaps (groups) of stuff that creatures are made out of. form, discrimination, feeling, mental factors, and mind. ego/persons mainly has to do with mind. its explained in abundant detail, best done with an excellent teacher.

the point is not so much this psychoanalysis stuff where you mix and match learned concepts and past experiences. it is more about perceiving the nature of those things and of the mind that is doing it.



Agree. Using merely mixes of analytical philosophies, psychologies with Buddhism can give unwholesome fabricated conceptual entanglement. One must be carefull and respect the teachings by an authentic teacher.
Knowing by conceptualization, by analysis "ego" is not a liberating knowledge like in Buddhism. Also elaborations in explanations bow to wordly dual. Can become decorations on the tricky ego-christmass tree, not wholesome in wisdom.
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Re: Understanding The Ego

Postby Heruka » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:40 am

muni wrote: Guru Rinpoche said that ego arises from that where is nothing to label.


once a man entered a taxi at an airport and said please take me to this place, the taxi driver said that due to the only long road he could drive, that it was a giant circle around the city, the only route he could take, the passenger was closer at that time to the destination and just ahead of it, than if he had to travel all the way around to reach it. seeing that it was just so, the journey (by choice of traveller) still had to be made. the guide (taxi driver) knew the fallacy, yet was compelled to carry the traveller on that journey, to help him reach his destination.
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