What is egoic consciousness?
Egoic consciousness is limited and localized pure consciousness.
The ego’s function is to survive and it is always at war, fighting to control the environment and to manipulate others. The ego is necessary to protect the physical and emotional body that interacts in the world. The skill that is to be cultivated is to live with the ego, not as our identity or master over the mind, but as a servant and instrument of pure consciousness. The current state of humanity, the vast majority of people, is to identify with the ego and to allow the ego to manipulate and control the mind; this is the cause of suffering. An aspect of ignorance is lack of knowledge of the ego and its behavior.
The first step in becoming free of the ego is to understand the behavior of the ego. When we understand the characteristics and symptoms of the ego, then we are aware of the controlling presence of the ego and we then have the ability to not react to the dictates of the ego; this is freedom. The practice is to train the mind to pause, create a space in order to investigate the wisdom of responding to the ego’s whims and instead act in accordance to the Dhamma.
The ego is the source of suffering and causes the mind to experience suffering. This is understood when we examine the behavior of the ego.
- The ego, false self or defiled mind identifies with the five clinging aggregates (form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and sense consciousness), arises in form and in an environment due to its craving for particular experiences with the aggregates. The specific identity of the false self is related to its attachment and preferences for particular aggregates. When the body disintegrates the false self consciousness creates another form to be its vehicle in a particular environment, that is also created, in accordance to its predisposition for particular experiences and cravings. Kamma is the intention and cravings for particular experiences.
- The ego’s home and identity is the physical body. The body is born, grows old, gets sick and dies; it is impermanent and decays. The impermanent nature of the body causes the ego to experience continuous anxiety and fear: fear of sickness, death and fear of being diminished. Due to these fears, the ego fights for power and control over the physical body, over the environment and over others in order to prevent death and any form of diminishment.
- The ego is the perpetuator of rebirth because it requires a form to exist. The ego is the cause of saṃsāra, the perpetual wandering in the round of rebirths.
- The ego is nurtured, gains a greater sense of self, when it identifies with material possessions, personal relationships and concepts: beliefs, views, and ideas. The ego has unlimited greed and unwholesome desires for ever more possessions, relationships and concepts to identify with.
- The ego’s sense of self is nurtured by acting superior: putting others down with judgmental and critical thoughts. The ego projects self hatred and inferior qualities onto others in order protect its self image.
- The ego enjoys acting the role of victim in order to direct the blame for any harm onto others. Depression is one symptom of the victim mentality.
- The ego uses anger and hatred to raise its energy for combat, it feeds on this type of energy, negative energy. Attack is perceived as justified for self defense and survival.
- The personality of the ego changes in dependence on the influx of information and environmental conditions, this causes the sense of self to be unstable and uncertain. The ego craves stability in the world where there is none.
- The ego is never at peace nor can it ever be satisfied or happy. The ego is always hungry for more to identify with and experiences a continuous sense of lack, it never has enough.
There is a necessity to study and know the ego for what it is, a suffering false self; and to dethrone the ego from its lordship over the mind and make it a servant of pure consciousness. Pure consciousness, transcends the ego, and is thus a refuge from suffering. The enlightened mind, liberated from the ego knows peace and happiness.
Lord Buddha taught the Dhamma that transcends the ego: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. As disciples of the Buddha it is our duty to study and train in the Dhamma for the benefit and liberation of all sentient beings. The ego fears the Dhamma because the Dhamma is the means that causes the ego to relax its hold over the mind. The ego plagues the mind with forgetfulness of the Dhamma for its own preservation.
When mistakes are made due to a lapse of mindfulness and concentration, and the mind forgets the Dhamma, then as quickly as possible the mind is to regain mindfulness and other wholesome mental faculties. This is the best that can be done and little by little mindfulness and concentration is strengthened through exercise of its use. Any self judgment or self hatred are behavior characteristics of the ego and not the Dhamma. Forgiveness is crucial; forgive others for their ignorance, ill will and greed; forgive the mind that is under the power of the ego; and most importantly of all, forgive oneself. We are all in the same boat, riding the turbulent waves of saṃsāra. Have compassion for all sentient beings that are suffering, and have compassion for your self.