The Evolution of the Ego
Ego – a word that has come to carry a heavy burden… used as a concept to take the weight of the I-focused lives we lead in today’s target-driven world. It is held responsible for our attachments to material things, our opinions, our likes, dislikes and our ever-growing inability to be present and happy simply with ‘what is’.
As we strive forward for that all-important ‘I’, we lose awareness of the whole – the totality that gives us the true wisdom we need to live a content life. But how has it come to be, that this surely important construction of an individual identity, has taken over our ability to be with the only reality we can truly experience – the moment of right now?
With thanks to the wisdom given by my Yoga teacher, Sri Vijay Gopala, during the philosophy classes of a recent 300hr teacher training course with Yoga Gita, I was able to truly understand not only why we need ego, but also why it has such a strong hold over the way we live our lives. Yet, even more enlightening to me than these truths, was the revelation that now is the time in the amazing journey of the human evolution to liberate ourselves from the ego’s tight grip.
“Our sense of presence is an event in space and time – it is Ego.” Vijay Gopala.
From when we began billions of years ago as an unicellular organism, we were completely dependent on the influences of space and time and we had no self-awareness, we were completely one with nature – non-dual.
As we progressed to moving animals on this earth, a direct experience began and we evolved to construct homes, hunt for food and find more efficient ways to survive. We began to alter the impositions of space and time and a self-awareness started to grow. But yet, the outside influences of nature still ruled as our awareness was very limited.
When the Prehistoric human came however, a questioning came – and our Self-awareness became stronger. We started to ask ourselves… Who am I? Why am I like this? We questioned the imposition of space and time and realised, through seeking and hunting, that we can construct our own happening. Ego formed…
With this improved state of Self-awareness, a duality came – a clear separation of Self and Nature and this is where the Ego began to play its big part in our lives. As we began to feel the individuality that comes with Self-awareness, we began to construct our identities. Here there came a shift in our perception of the world and the way the mind processes the outside happenings. This shift was to recognise and find what makes us different… what makes us stronger, better, happier. This separation of Self and Nature has been crucial for our survival and the evolution – the ego continually says “expand, grow and find peace”.
So now we reach the stage in the evolution of the past few hundred generations… a Self-reformation has come through an ability unique to the human – Self-reflection. “How do I express myself?”, “How do I better myself?” The ego in this form seems now to be holding us back, never content with its current perception of what is.
The human in the modern world no longer needs to live life through the limited lens of survival due to our advancements in the economy, agriculture, architecture and technology. Despite this, we still find ourselves with a desire to expand and evolve through this journey. The ego burdens us with it strong focus on survival – “I need to do this, I need to do that”, “How will I make that better?”, “What do I need to do next?”…. So, what next?
Through this theory of space, time and Self-awareness throughout our evolution, Vijay presented a concept that brings us full-circle as a species – back to a non-dual state, yet this time with a full state of awareness. We go back to being one with nature but beyond its impositions of space and time. For this, a shift in the way we use the ego is required. We must continue to use our unique ability to Self-reflect to go from knowing our presence, to finding the ‘I’ in all. Here, there is the bridge from the duality we have created in ourselves to the non-duality of being with life itself.
“Self-reflection is the basic tool to know the Self.” Vijay Gopala.
The way we use Self-reflection is key in this stage of the evolutionary cycle. We must use it to witness and reflect on our own Self-awareness so that we can separate the ego and make ourselves aware of the role it is playing… This is what brings the dimension of consciousness.
To reflect on your experiences in everyday life, is to be fully present within the experience itself – it requires you to bring conscious choices to your actions. When you reflect yourself in to all that is around you, ego quickly loses its importance.
Take the simple example of your train home being cancelled after a long day at work. The ego’s dual nature would see this as a situation happening to ‘me’, building stress and anxiety through focusing on the effects it has on plans for the evening, making it difficult for you to think clearly to find a new way home. When you remove the difference and duality within you, situations are not happening to you, they are simply happening and you do what needs to be done to move with nature’s ever flowing current. You get home later and things may not be as you originally expected, but you stay happy and adjust easily to the reality of what is.
Through Self-reflection you can break the impact of an event (space and time) so that expression comes from no differences or duality within you. Here there comes a shift – from the hunting for the ‘I want to feel this’, to a true Self-expression.
This shift is just to know what is there – and that it is not there for you. The more you are able to reflect yourself in everything, the more you can align to consciousness. This is a state that brings more wisdom, bliss and joy through simply being able to be with and work with what is happening in the moment of right now. Through no influences from past or future, no mind conditionings to influence decisions on things that no longer or do no yet exist… this is the path to transformation – not just for the individual, but for the species as a whole.
To reach a non-duality with awareness, is to be one with the happening of life. To align to this, is to align to a continuous, open source of the creation of each moment.
“Survival has to be shifted to being for the evolution – live with nature not through nature.” Vijay Gopala.
Evolution now brings us face to face with the problems that have root in the mind, it has made us believe that by seeking, hunting and gaining we can expand our presence. Yet, as we begin to realise through an ever growing want for more, the reality is that nothing can be expanded by adding things up to your ‘I’.
To expand, you need to know you are already everything, to be aware that you are able to go back to your connection with the non-duality of creation. To be one with nature yet remove the imposed effects of its space and time from your functioning is to put the ego back into its purest form… “I represent consciousness in nature, I perceive ‘what is’ and know through a pure understanding – with no other past conditionings or outside influences, I am with the source of creation – an infinite energy and bliss”.