One may understand the cosmos, but never
the ego; the self is more distant than any star.

G.K. Chesterton


Why do we consistently refuse to allow love to light our way?  We resist the allure of love, while still longing for its comfort.  And what is that resistance, really?  First, it is resistance to the experience of a bigger life, in which our small and separate identity disappears.  What is actually the birth of our spiritual identity feels to the ego like death.  The ego, our small and separate sense of self, is an imposter personality.  It is a false self.  It resists our genuinely remembering God, because in the recognition of our oneness with him lies the death of the ego and the end of all fear.

Marianne Williamson


The ego is that ugly little troll that lives underneath the bridge between your mind and your heart.

Gael Greene
One of the ego's favorite paths of resistance is to fill you with doubt.

Ram Dass

The ego is not a thing but a subtle effort, and you cannot use effort to get rid of effort--you end up with two efforts instead of one.  The ego itself is a perfect manifestation of the Divine, and it is best handled by resting in Freedom, not by trying to get rid of it, which simply increases the effort of the ego itself.

Ken Wilber

Happy are those who have overcome their egos; happy are those who have attained peace; happy are those who have found the Truth.

the Buddha


The ego is the single biggest obstruction to the achievement of anything.
Between-ness is the act of acting without ego. You act, but you are not the
actor.  You do things, but you are not the doer--and you know you are not
the doer.  It's the ability to hold the head at a dead standstill in order to effect
certain changes.  You desire the change, but you do not care if it comes to pass.

Richard Rose


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If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego
and the internal dialogue.  Make a decision to relinquish the need
to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge.
Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time.  It's very
important to be aware of them every time they come up.

Deepak Chopra

I measure what's going on, and I adapt to it.  I try to get my ego
out of the way.  The market is smarter than I am so I bend.

Martin Zweig


The main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of
the bureaucracy of ego.  This means stepping out of ego's
constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental
version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort,
or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking.  One must
step out of spiritual materialism.

Trungpa Chogyam


The ego, as a collection of our past experiences, is continually
offering miserable lines of thought.  It’s as if there were a stream
with little fish swimming by, and when we hook one of them there
is a judgment.  The ego is constantly judging everybody and
everything.  It has its constant little chit chat about things that can
happen in the future, things about the past, too, and these are the
little fish that swim by.  And what we learn to do—this is why it takes
work—is to not reach out and grab a fish.

Hugh Prather


Ego could be defined as whatever covers up basic goodness.  From an
experiential point of view, what is ego covering up?  It's covering up
our experience of just being here, just fully being where we are,
so that we can relate with the immediacy of our experience.  Egolessness
is a state of mind that has complete confidence in the sacredness
of the world.  It is unconditional well being, unconditional joy
that includes all the different qualities of our experience.

Pema Chodron


Avoid having your ego so close to your position that
when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

Colin Powell


The more you prune a plant, the more it grows.  So too the more you
seek to annihilate the ego, the more it will increase.  You
should seek the root of the ego and destroy it.

Ramana Maharshi


Any true gentility mellows the ego, not by weakening its strength but by
diminishing its arrogance, its false exclusiveness, its pretense of ultimacy.

Adrian van Kaan


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The ego will always be able to find ways to keep the aspirant
busy in self-improvement, thus binding him or her to the
fact that the self is still there behind all the improvements.
For why should the ego kill itself?

Paul Brunton

It must be remembered that even though the ego is the
individual's inaccurate concept of him- or herself, it
seems to be what the person is.

Fritz Kunkel


The ego is primarily engaged in its own defense and the furtherance of
its own ambitions.  Everything that interferes with it must be repressed.

Jack Sanford

Articles and book excerpts on ego:

Your Higher Self      Wayne Dyer

The ego can achieve simple pleasures:  momentary satisfaction with its achievements,
happiness with its new car, for instance.  But it cannot itself create any of the higher
feelings.  Take love, for example:  the only love the ego knows is strategic, a manipulative
transaction in which it gives to get.  It gives kindness to be liked, praise to be praised,
approval to be approved of, and love to be loved.  This conditional love is shallow at
best and usually turns into hurt or even hate when the transaction doesn't go as planned.
   Similarly, the ego is not the source of compassion, joy, or forgiveness, either.  When
these feelings come, all the ego can do is identify with them and start down the path of
unworthiness or imagine that it has reached new spiritual heights.  The ego is at most a
voyeur when there is a positive feeling and at worst an impostor.  Ultimately, the ego's
inability to maintain any kind of positive feeling state results in a kind of low-level or
background state of dissatisfaction that is the very note of the ego.

Richard Moss

Make your ego porous.  Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing,
fame is nothing.  Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.

Rainer Maria Rilke


To feel life is meaningless unless "I" can be permanent
is like having desperately fallen in love with an inch.

Alan Watts


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The Ego, however, is not who you really are.  The ego is your
self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing.
Your social mask thrives on approval.  It wants control, and it
is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.

Deepak Chopra

The foundation of the Buddha's teachings lies in compassion,
and the reason for practicing the teachings is to wipe out
the persistence of ego, the number-one enemy of compassion.

The Dalai Lama


The ego lusts for satisfaction.  It has a prideful ferocious appetite
for its version of "truth."  It is the most challenging aspect
to conquer; the cause for most spiritual turmoil.

T.F. Hodge
From Within I Rise

The ego promotes turmoil because it wants to substantiate your
separateness from everyone, including God.  It will push you in
the direction of judgment and comparison, and cause you to insist
on being right and best.  You know your highest self by listening
to the voice that only wants you to be at peace.

Wayne Dyer
Manifest Your Destiny

The ego speaks from a small standpoint in the center.  It thinks outward.  It
seeks to know by groping in the unknown, attempting to rationalize what it
finds there.  Since infinite space surrounds it, it is impossible
for it to ever grow into great understanding.

U.S. Anderson


The ego is really our weakness, the way our disbelief in ourselves
shows in life.  When we give up fighting for it and determine to discipline
it, we are on our way toward being ourselves and mature individuals.

Alfred Ulher


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The ego endlessly pulls us from one burning desire to another.  Somehow
the ego wishes to impose its will on events, to pretend that its needs, its
plans are the most important, that it knows all, and knows what is best for us.

A. Haji

All unhappiness is due to the ego.  With it comes all your trouble.  If you
would deny the ego and scorch it by ignoring it you would be free.

Ramana Maharshi


The ego is a self-satisfying historian which seeks only that
information that agrees with it, rewrites history when it needs to,
and does not even see the evidence that threatens it.

Anthony G. Greenwald

At some point, sometimes in our twenties, sometimes our thirties, most
often the forties. . . we begin at last to let the soul lead.  The power shifts
away from bric-a-brac and frick-frack to soulfulness.  And though the
soul does not assume the lead by killing off the ego, the ego is demoted,
one might say, and given a different assignment in the psyche,
which is essentially to submit to the concerns of the soul.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

The nature of the ego is to stay in control, and so it does all it can to keep us in the realm of me-ness.  It is a remarkably good shape-shifter and can take any number of disguises or appear in many varied forms, but its main job is to keep us distracted.  For instance, it can make us believe we are the cleverest, the best informed and most important, as easily as it can make us feel unworthy, unlovable, not clever or good enough to be happy.  And it is this sense of self that is the root cause of so much distress, both in our own lives and in the world, as in its name wars are fought, families split, and friends forgotten.

Self-centeredness and selfishness, which are hallmarks of the ego, affect not only our own lives and relationships but also influence the way we behave in the world.  There is no limit to the damage a strong ego can do, from the arrogant conviction that its own opinions are the only right ones and everyone should be made to believe in them, to wielding and abusing power at the expense of other people's lives or liberties.

The ego also makes us believe that we are the dust on the mirror, that we could never be so beautiful as the radiant reflection beneath the surface.  Yet how extraordinary to believe that we cannot be free when freedom is our true nature!  When we begin to see that such self-centeredness does not lead to happiness and we year for something more genuine, when we realize that the pit of meaninglessness and emptiness inside is never really satiated no matter how much we feed it, or when we have just had enough of chaos and suffering, then the longing for change arises.

Hypothetically, all we need to do is to let go of the focus on "me," which is our sense of separateness, our need for distinction, the grasping and clinging to our story.  Then we can retire the ego.  But this is far easier said than done.  In India, the ego is represented by a coconut as this is the hardest nut to crack.  Traditionally, the coconut is offered to the guru or teacher as a sign of the student's willingness to surrender his or her ego and to let go of self-obsession.  Such a symbolic gesture shows that the ego is considered to be a great obstacle on the spiritual path and an even greater impediment to developing true kindness and compassion.

Ed and Deb Shapiro
Be the Change




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