Put Your Ego Where it Belongs!

The road toward seeking truth is an incredible journey filled with fantastic experiences, but it is also loaded with obstacles and moments of self deception.  No matter what tools or teachings we choose to focus on as we progress on our roads, we must remember that the ego loves to wait, in ambush, to appropriate spirituality for its own gain.  Ego can be cunning, baffling, and powerful; ego takes every opportunity at hijacking spirituality for its own purposes. This is a common thing in the self-help, spirituality world today. The first time I heard someone say that pride was a sin, a ‘missing of the mark,’ I spent an hour trying to argue and prove them wrong.  And as the years have gone by, it has become very clear to me that spiritual pride is as much of a problem and as much a defect of character as any of the other so-called “deadly” sins.

I’m not sure whether waking up spiritually is something that we fall into because we’re forced to our awakenings through difficult times, or if we can actually have the ability to make the choice to put our foot on a spiritual path and say, “I’m now going to seek enlightenment.”  However, my experience tells me that when things fall apart and we are forced into a surrender, that is when we genuinely become aware and awake. And knowing what we know about the ego, even the most “enlightened” of humans can have moments of being overrun by ego and pride.

The purpose of mentioning this is that with the mindfulness revolution that our country is deeply entrenched in, I think it’s incredibly important to point out the need for healthy skepticism. Committing to spiritual growth and seeking truth can be loaded with all kinds of challenges.  No matter what tools we use on our quests, the ego has a way of ambushing and muddying the purity of the journey for its own gain; this is where the cliché that ‘the road to suffering is paved with good intentions’ comes into our culture. Most of us would profess that even in our hardest, darkest hours, we want to do good. But it’s the egoic mind (most often) that wedges us into those tight spots.

I’m not mentioning this because I believe that there is any kind of perfect journey, any particular right or wrong way to seek enlightenment, but I do know that the mind justifies its own thinking and when one is committed to enlightenment, it can be in these times that we’re deluding ourselves more than ever because the ego’s drive is the greatest. This is why it’s important to check-in with your tribe make a commitment to yourself to stay connected to your mentors and the people you respect, because behavior never lies. Watch these mentors’ hands and feet! If they are walking like they are talking, literally and figuratively, then they probably qualify.  These are the people you want to run things by, just to double check, because climbing the spirituality ladder can be intoxicating.

And as much as it’s designed to promote alignment and enlightenment, it can become a safe place to hide contradictions and perform the complete opposite task of being self-honest.  The Daily Love, for example, is a site that creates the opportunity for anyone to write about any issue going on in his or her life anonymously, and they can get feedback while maintaining anonymity. And if that’s not enough, there are even mentors available through their site! The point is this: the egoic mind will run the show—even in the spiritual quest—whenever it gets the chance. Put things/people in place so that you are checking your thoughts and actions with the people you trust.

Lastly, the Buddhists referred to the path of enlightenment as the hard way. This is because life can be difficult and there’s no one that’s going to magically come along and make it all better for us—we are in charge of our perceptions and experiences in this life.  Our expectations of the spiritual path need to be guided back toward center; the spiritual path—the honest, raw, challenged, mindful path— is the hard way. So remember, have the courage to change, be willing to keep an open mind, and your teachers will appear. It’s not about magic; It’s about co-creation between your higher power and your highest self. Let the ego keep you warm, fed and dry.

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Trinka is a counselor and has run her private practice in Los Angeles for 20 years. She was Mastin’s personal therapist for many years. Check out her website here.

  • Asiltone1

    Truth,Truth.. the ego is a trickster! One must let it know that you know and work towards placing it i is proper place.

  • Anonymous

    I loved this explanation of the “ego”…and especially the last three sentences of the blog. I finally felt like I perceived clarity around this issue. Thank you! :o)