The other day we took Dorito, my dog, to a dog park. There were plenty of dogs there because it was such a beautiful day. Since Dorito is small, he decided to get on a picnic table and watch all the other dogs. From up there, he would decide with who he wanted to play or not. And I thought…what a genius!! What a healthy ego!!
Throughout my life, my ego has been all over the place. Sometimes, it has been inflated, other times deflated, but rarely right there where it should be! When the ego is inflated, we believe we are superior to others because of power, material possessions, knowledge, etc. When deflated, we feel a victim of our own fate. Can we find the place, right there in the middle, so that the ego supports us when we need it with humility and reverence?
According to Carl Jung, the ego represents the conscious mind. There is nothing wrong with the ego, as long as it is balanced and healthy. During the first half of life, the ego grows and builds our personality and persona to the world; this helps us differentiate ourselves from others. That is the purpose of the first half of life, Jung says. During the second half, he encourages us to discover our unconscious, our deepest world. Both the ego and the unconscious form our Self, who we are. By uncovering both, we come to a state of wholeness. This is the individuation process.
Easier said than done! There is work, and lots of it! But there is hope, if there is interest. This process is not for everybody, as it moves you deeply and irrevocably. I really like what Pema Chodron says…”There comes a time when the bubble of ego is popped and you can’t get the ground back for an extended period of time. Those times, when you absolutely cannot get it back together, are the most rich and powerful times in our lives.”
“Rich”, probably…”powerful”, absolutely! For a long time, I could not put two and two together. My ground was shaken, and I thought I was lost. Maybe I was, but I believed in my process. My conscious helped me be in the present and stick with my path. It helped me go inside to look for unconscious answers. My ego had become healthy and more balanced.
For some time, it was all about me; it had to be that way. I was completely focused on my well being. For my health. But then one day, I realized that it was not about me anymore…it had never been just about me…We are all connected at a deep level, we are all one and the same…going though this mysterious journey called life.
As Dogen Zen-ji said, “To know yourself is to forget yourself.” And Pema Chodron adds “We might think that knowing ourselves is a very ego-centered thing, but by beginning to look so clearly and so honestly at ourselves—at our emotions, at our thoughts, at who we really are—we begin to dissolve the walls that separate us from others.”