Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Dysfunctional Human Ego

"The ego is not personal," writes Eckhart Tolle. It has both an individual and a collective identity. And, as dangerous and all pervasive as it is on the individual level, it is on the collective level where it is most insidious. It is collective because it affects us all, and it is insidious because it continually slips under the radar of our consciousness. Unconsciously we go about our day-to-day activity, identified with our internalized thinking, yet tuned out to the madness around us.

"Greed, selfishness, exploitation, cruelty, and violence are still all-pervasive on our planet," Tolle observes. "When you don't recognize them as individual and collective manifestations of an underlying dysfunction or mental illness, you fall into the error of personalizing them."

Watching film footage of the Nuremburg rallies and of the resultant death camps of the Holocaust can we not say that this was an example of a world gone literally mad? Yet what about the greed and corruption that nearly brought down the world financial system in 2008? Was that not also an acute attack of madness? What about the daily traffic jams that clog cities around the globe as our carbon emissions melt the polar icecaps? Yet who amongst us is not sucked into the workaday madness that surrounds us? Is our identification as employees, as townsmen, as citizens, as "haves" or "have-nots" not an extremely potent motivator of our perspectives and behaviour? Are we not all too easily enabled to block out and disregard the harms we are causing to the planet as a whole, simply by the seeming drama of our day-to-day existence?

"You construct a conceptual identity for an individual or group," Tolle points out, "and you say: "This is who he is. This is who they are." When you confuse the ego that you perceive in others with their identity, it is the work of your own ego that uses this misperception to strengthen itself through being right and therefore superior, and through reacting with condemnation indignation, and often anger against the perceived perceived enemy."

"All this is enormously satisfying to the (personal) ego," he notes. "It strengthens the sense of separation between yourself and the other whose "otherness" has become magnified to such an extent that you can no longer feel your common humanity, nor the rootedness in the one Life that you share with each being, your common divinity."

[Eckhart Tolle, "A New Earth," pp. 73-74]


Anonymous said...

....WOW..............great post..

Anonymous said...

I love you E.TOlle