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Buddhism and the Ego

August 24, 2013

Buddhism
Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

On the ego
According to Buddhist tradition, the spiritual path is the process of cutting through our confusion, of uncovering the awakened state of mind. When the awakened state is crowded in by ego and its attendant paranoia, it takes on the character of an underlying instinct. So it is not a matter of building up the awakened state of mind, but rather burning out the confusions which obstruct it. In the process of burning out these confusions, we discover enlightenment. If the process were otherwise, the awakened state of mind would be a product, dependent upon cause and effect and therefore liable to dissolution. Anything which is created must, sooner or later, die. If enlightenment were created in such a way, there would always be the possibility of ego reasserting itself, causing a return to the confused state. Enlightenment is permanent because we have not produced it; we have merely discovered it…
The heart of the confusion is that man has a sense of self which seems to him to be continuous and solid. When a thought or emotion or event occurs, there is a sense of someone being conscious of what is happening. You sense that you are reading these words. The sense of self is actually a transitory, discontinuous event, which in our confusion seems to be quite solid and continuous. Since we take our confused view as being real, we struggle to cover up any possibility of discovering our real condition. “But,” we might ask, “if our real condition is an awakened state, why are we so busy trying to avoid becoming aware of it?” It is because we have become so absorbed in our confused view of the world, that we consider it real, the only possible world. This struggle to maintain the sense of a solid, continuous self is the action of the ego.
Ego, however, is only partially successful in shielding us from pain. It is the dissatisfaction which accompanies ego’s struggle that inspires us to examine what we are doing. Since there are always gaps in our self-consciousness, some insight is possible.

The Three Lords Of Materialism
An interesting metaphor used in Tibetan Buddhism to describe the functioning of ego is that of the “Three Lords of Materialism”: the “Lord of Form,” the “Lord of Speech,” and the “Lord of Mind.” In the discussion of the Three Lords which follows, the words “materialism” and “neurotic” refer to the action of the ego.
The Lord of Form refers to the neurotic pursuit of physical comfort, security and pleasure. Our highly organized and technological society reflects our preoccupation with manipulating physical surroundings so as to shield ourselves from the irritations of the raw, rugged, unpredictable aspects of life. Push-button elevators, pre-packaged meat, air conditioning, flush toilets, private funerals, retirement programs, mass production, weather satellites, bulldozers, fluorescent lighting, nine-to-five jobs, television—all are attempts to create a manageable, safe, predictable, pleasurable world.
The Lord of Form does not signify the physically rich and secure life-situations we create per se. Rather it refers to the neurotic preoccupation that drives us to create them, to try to control nature. It is ego’s ambition to secure and entertain itself, trying to avoid all irritation. So we cling to our pleasures and possessions, we fear change or force change, we try to create a nest or playground.
The Lord of Speech refers to the use of intellect in relating to our world. We adopt sets of categories which serve as handles, as ways of managing phenomena. The most fully developed products of this tendency are ideologies, the systems of ideas that rationalize, justify and sanctify our lives. Nationalism, communism, existentialism, Christianity, Buddhism—all provide us with identities, rules of action, and interpretations of how and why things happen as they do.
Again, the use of intellect is not in itself the Lord of Speech. The Lord of Speech refers to the inclination on the part of ego to interpret anything that is threatening or irritating in such a way as to neutralize the threat or turn it into something “positive” from the ego’s point of view. The Lord of Speech refers to the use of concepts as filters to screen us from a direct perception of what is. The concepts are taken to seriously; they are used as tools to solidify our world and ourselves. If a world of nameable things exists, then “I” as one of the nameable things exist as well. We wish not to leave any room for threatening doubt, uncertainty or confusion.
The Lord of Mind refers to the effort of consciousness to maintain awareness of itself. The Lord of Mind rules when we use spiritual and psychological disciplines as the means of maintaining our self-consciousness, of holding onto our sense of self. Drugs, yoga, prayer, meditation, trances, various psychotherapies—all can be used in this way.
Ego is able to convert everything to its own use, even spirituality. For example, if you have learned of a particularly beneficial meditation technique of spiritual practice, then ego’s attitude is, first to regard it as an object of fascination and, second to examine it. Finally, since ego is seeming solid and cannot really absorb anything, it can only mimic. Thus ego tries to examine and imitate the practice of meditation and the meditative way of life. When we have learned all the trick s and answers of the spiritual game, we automatically try to imitate spirituality, since real involvement would require the complete elimination of ego, and actually the last thing we want to do is to give us the ego completely. However, we cannot experience that which we are trying to imitate; we can only find some area within the bounds of ego that seems to be the same thing. Ego translates everything in terms of its own state of health, its own inherent qualities. It feels a sense of accomplishment and excitement at having been able to create such a pattern. At last it has created a tangible accomplishment, a confirmation of its own individuality.
If we become successful at maintaining our self-consciousness through spiritual techniques, then genuine spiritual development is highly unlikely. Our mental habit becomes so strong as to be hard to penetrate. We may even go so far as to achieve the totally demonic state of complete “Egohood.”
Even though the Lord of Mind is the most powerful in subverting spirituality, still the other two Lords can also rule the spiritual practice. Retreat to nature, isolation, simple, quiet, high people—all can be ways of shielding oneself from irritation, all can be expressions of the Lord of Form. Or perhaps religion may provide us with a rationalization for creating a secure nest, a simple but comfortable home, for acquiring an amiable mate, and a stable, easy job.
The Lord of Speech is involved in spiritual practice as well. In following a spiritual path we may substitute a new religious ideology for our former beliefs, but continue to use it in the old neurotic way. Regardless of how sublime our ideas may be, if we take them too seriously and use them to maintain our ego, we are still be ruled by the Lord of Speech…
The Buddha…examined the process by which the Three Lords rule. He questioned why our minds follow them and whether there is another way. He discovered that the Three Lords seduce us by creating a fundamental myth: that we are solid beings. But ultimately the myth is false, a huge hoax, a gigantic fraud, and it is the root of our suffering…
The Lords’ defenses are created out of the material of our minds. This material of mind is used by the Lords in such a way as to maintain the basic myth of solidity. The…Buddha…discovered that struggling to find answers did not work…He began to realize that there was a sane, awake quality within him which manifested itself only in the absence of struggle…meditation… does involve dealing with neurotic states of mind. The neurotic state of mind is not difficult or impossible to deal with. It has energy, speed and a certain pattern. The practice of meditation involves letting be—trying to go with the pattern, trying to go with the energy and the speed. In this way we learn how to deal with these factors, how to relate with them, not in the sense of causing them to mature in the way we would like, but in the sense of knowing them for what they are and working with their pattern.
If the strategy of continually overlapping thoughts is penetrated, then the Lords stir up emotions to distract us. The colorful, dramatic quality of the emotions captures our attention as if we were watching an absorbing film show…we neither encourage emotions or suppress them. By seeing them clearly, by allowing them to be as they are, we no longer permit them to serve as a means of entertaining and distracting us. Thus they become the inexhaustible energy which fulfills egoless action.
In the absence of thoughts and emotions the Lords bring up a still more powerful weapon, concepts. Labeling phenomena creates a feeling of a solid definite world of “things.” Such a solid world reassures us that we are a solid, continuous thing as well. The world exists, therefore I, the perceiver of the world, exist. Meditation involves seeing the transparency of concepts, so
that labeling no longer serves as a way of solidifying our world and our image of our self. Labeling becomes simply the act of discrimination…
By the examination of his own thoughts, emotions, concepts and the other activities of mind, the Buddha discovered that there is no need to struggle to prove our existence, that we need not be subject to the rule of the Three Lords of Materialism. There is no need to struggle to be free; the absence of struggle is in itself freedom. The egoless state is the attainment of Buddhahood. The process of transforming the material of mind from expressions of ego’s ambition into expressions of basic sanity and enlightenment through the practice of meditation—this might be said to be the true spiritual path.

The Development of Ego
The Five Skandas
As we are going to examine the Buddhist path from beginning to end, from beginners mind to the enlightened one, I think it would be best to start with something very concrete and realistic, the field we are going to cultivate. It would be foolish to study more advanced subjects before we are familiar with the starting point, the nature of the ego…Any spiritual practice needs this basic understanding of the starting point, the material with which we are working.
If we do not know the subject with which we are working, then our study is useless; speculations about the goal become mere fantasy. These speculations may take the form of advanced ideas and descriptions of spiritual experiences, but they only exploit the weaker aspects of human nature, our expectations and desires to see and hear something colorful, something extraordinary. If we begin our study with these dreams of extraordinary, “enlightening” and dramatic experiences, then we will build up our expectations and preconceptions so that later, when we are actually working on the path, our mind will be occupied largely with what will be rather than what is. It is destructive and not fair to people to play on their weaknesses, their expectations and dreams, rather than to present the realistic starting point of what they are
It is necessary, therefore, to start on what we are and why we are searching. Generally, all religious traditions deal with this material, speaking variously of alaya-vijnana or original sin or the fall of man or the basis of ego. Most religions refer to this material in a somewhat pejorative way, but I do not think it is such a shocking or terrible thing. We do not have to be ashamed of who we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we still have soil good enough to cultivate…Therefore, in dealing with this subject we are not condemning or trying to eliminate our ego psychology; we are purely acknowledging it, seeing it as it is. In fact understanding the ego is the foundation of Buddhism. So let us see how it develops.
Fundamentally, there is just open space, the basic ground of what we really are. Our most fundamental state of mind, before the creation of ego, is such that there is basic openness, basic freedom, a spacious quality; and we have now and have always had this openness. Take, for example, our everyday lives and thought patterns. When we see an object, in the first instant there is a sudden perception which has no logic or conceptualization to it at all; we just perceive the thing in the open ground. Then immediately we panic and begin to rush about trying to add something to it, either trying to find a name for it or trying to find pigeon-holes in which we could locate and categorize it. Gradually things develop from there.
This development does not take the shape of a solid entity. Rather, this development is illusory, the mistaken belief in a “self” or “ego.” Confused mind is inclined to view itself as a solid, on-going thing, but it is only a collection of tendencies, events. In Buddhist terminology this collection is referred to as the Five Skandas or Five Heaps…
The beginning point is that there is open space, belonging to no one. There is always primordial intelligence connected with the space and openness. Vidya, which means “intelligence” in Sanskrit—precision, sharpness, sharpness with space, sharpness with room in which to put things, exchange things. It is like a spacious hall where there is room to dance about, where there is no danger of knocking things over or tripping over things, for there is completely open space. We are this space, we are one with it, with vidya, intelligence and openness.
But if we are this all the time, where did the confusion come from, where has the space gone, what has happened? Nothing has happened, as a matter of fact. We just became too active in that space. Because it is spacious, it brings the inspiration to dance about; but our dance became a bit too active, we began to spin more than was necessary to express the space. At this point we became self-conscious, conscious that “I” am dancing in the space.
At such a point, space is no longer space as such. It becomes solid. Instead of being one with the space, we feel solid space as a separate entity, as tangible. This is the first experience of duality—space and I, I am dancing in this space, and this spaciousness is a solid, separate thing. Duality means “space and I,” rather than being completely one with the space. This is the birth of “form,” or “other.”
Then a kind of blackout occurs, in the sense that we forget what we are doing. There is a sudden halt, a pause; and we turn around and “discover” solid space, as though we had never before done anything at all, as though we were not the creators of all that solidity. There is a gap. Having already created solidified space, then we are overwhelmed by it and begin to become lost in it. There is a blackout and then, suddenly, an awakening.
When we awaken, we refuse to see the space as openness, refuse to see its smooth and ventilating quality. We completely ignore it, which is called avidya, A means “negation,” vidya means “intelligence,” so it is “un-intelligence.” Because this extreme intelligence has been transformed into the perception of solid space, because this intelligence with a sharp and precise and flowing luminous quality has become static, therefore it is called avidya, “ignorance.” We deliberately ignore. We are not satisfied just to dance in the space but we want to have a partner, and so we choose the space as our partner. If you choose space as your partner in the dance, then of course you want it to dance with you. In order to possess it as a partner, you have to solidify it and ignore its flowing, open quality. This is avidya, ignorance, ignoring intelligence. It is the culmination of the First Skanda, the creation of Ignorance-Form.
In fact, this skanda, the skanda of Ignorance-Form, has three different aspects or stages which we could examine through the use of another metaphor. Suppose in the beginning there is an open plain without any mountains or trees, completely open land, a simple desert without any particular characteristics. That is how we are, what we are. We are very simple and basic. And yet there is a sun shining, a moon shining, and there will be lights and colors, the texture of the desert. There will be some feeling of the energy which plays between heaven and earth. Thisgoes on and on.
Then, strangely, there is suddenly someone to notice all this. It is as if one of the grains of sand had stuck its neck out and begun to look around. We are that grain of sand, coming to the conclusion of our separateness. This is the “Birth of Ignorance” in its first stage, a kind of chemical reaction. Duality has set begun.
The second stage of Ignorance-Form is called “The Ignorance Born Within.” Having noticed that one is separate, then there is the feeling that one has always been so. It is an awkwardness, the instinct toward self-consciousness. It is also one’s excuse for remaining separate, an individual grain of sand. It is an aggressive type of ignorance, though not exactly aggressive in the sense of anger; it has not developed as far as that. Rather it is aggression in the sense that one feels awkward, unbalanced, and so one tries to secure one’s ground, create a shelter for oneself. It is the attitude that one is a confused and separate individual, and that is all there is to it,. One has identified oneself as separate from the basic landscape of space and openness.
The third type of ignorance is “Self-Observing Ignorance” watching oneself. There is a sense of seeing oneself as an external object, which leads to the first notion of “other.” One is beginning to have a relationship with a so-called “external” world. This is why these three stages of ignorance constitute the Skanda Of Form-Ignorance; one is beginning to create a world of forms.
When we speak of ‘ignorance” we do not mean stupidity at all. In a sense, ignorance is very intelligent, but it is completely two-way intelligence. That is to say, one purely reacts t one’s projections rather than just seeing what is. There is no situation of ‘letting be” at all, because one is ignoring what one is all the time. That is the basic definition of ignorance.
The next development is the setting up of a defense mechanism to protect our ignorance. This defense mechanism is Feeling, the Second Skanda. Since we have already ignored open space, we would like next to feel the qualities of solid space in order to bring complete fulfillment to the grasping quality we are developing. Of course space does not mean just bare space, for it contains color and energy. There are tremendous, magnificent displays of color and energy, beautiful and picturesque. But we have ignored them altogether. Instead there is just a solidified version of that color; and the color becomes captured color, and the energy becomes captured energy, because we have solidified the whole space and turned it into “other.” So we begin to reach out and feel the qualities of “other.” By doing this we reassure ourselves that we exist. “If I can feel that out there, then I must be here.”
Whenever anything happens, one reaches out to feel whether the situation is seductive or threatening or neutral. Whenever there is sudden separation, a feeling of not knowing the relationship of “that” to “this,” we tend to feel for our ground. This is the extremely efficient feeling mechanism that we begin to set up, the Second Skandha.
The next mechanism to further establish the ego is the Third Skandha, Perception-Impulse. We begin to be fascinated by our own creation, the static colors and the static energies. We want to relate to them, and so we begin gradually to explore our creation.
In order to explore efficiently there must be a kind of switchboard system, a controller of the feeling mechanism. Feeling transmits its information to the central switchboard, which is the act of perception. According to that information, we make judgments, we react. Whether we react for or against or indifferently is automatically determined by this bureaucracy of feeling and perception. If we feel the situation and find it threatening, when we will push it away from us. If we find it seductive, then we will draw it to us. If we find it neutral, we will be indifferent. These are the three types of impulse: hatred, desire, and stupidity. Thus perception refers to receiving information from the outside world and impulse refers to our response to that information.
The next development is the Fourth Skandha, Concept. Perception-Impulse is an automatic reaction to intuitive feeling. However, this kind of automatic reaction is not really enough of a defense to protect one’s ignorance and guarantee one’s security. In order to really protect and deceive oneself completely, properly, one needs intellect, the ability to name and categorize things. Thus we label things and events as being “good,” “bad,” “beautiful,” “ugly,” and so on, according to which impulse we find appropriate to them.
So the structure of ego is gradually becoming heavier and heavier, stronger and stronger. Up to this point ego’s development has been purely an action and reaction process; but from now on ego gradually develops beyond the ape instinct and becomes more sophisticated. We begin to experience intellectual speculation, confirming or interpreting ourselves, putting ourselves into certain logical, interpretive situations. The basic nature of intellect is quite logical. Obviously there will be the tendency to work for a positive condition: to confirm our experience, to interpret weakness into strength, to fabricate a logic of security, to confirm our ignorance.
In a sense it might be said that primordial intelligence is operating all the time, but it is being employed by the dualistic fixation, ignorance. In the beginning stages of the development of ego this intelligence operates as the intuitive sharpness of feeling. Later it operates in the form of intellect. Actually it seems that there is no such thing as the ego at all; there is no such thing as “I am.” It is an accumulation of a lot of stuff. It is a “brilliant work of art,” a product of the intellect which says, “Let’s give it a name, let’s call it something, let’s call it ‘I am’, “ which is very clever. “I” is the product of intellect, the label which unifies into one whole the disorganized and scattered development of ego.
The last stage of the development of ego is the Fifth Skandha, Consciousness. At this level an amalgamation takes place: the intuitive intelligence of the Second Skandha, the energy of the Third, and the intellectualization of the Fourth combine to produce thoughts and emotions. Thus at the level of the Fifth Skandha we find the Six Realms as well as the uncontrollable and illogical patterns of discursive thought.
This is the complete picture of ego. It is in this state that all of us have arrived at our study of Buddhist psychology and meditation.
In Buddhist literature there is a metaphor commonly used to describe this whole process, the creation and development of ego. It speaks of a monkey locked in an empty house, a house with five windows representing the five senses. This monkey is inquisitive, poking it head out of each window and jumping up and down, up and down, restlessly. He is a captive monkey in an empty house. It is a solid house, rather than the jungle in which the monkey leapt and swung, rather than trees in which he could hear the wind moving and the rustling of the leaves and branches. All these things become completely solidified. In fact, the jungle itself has become his solid house, his prison. Instead of perching in a tree, this inquisitive monkey has been walled in by a solid world, as if a flowing thing, a dramatic and beautiful waterfall, had suddenly been frozen.
This frozen house, made of frozen colors and energies, is completely still. This seems to be the point where time begins as past, future and present. The flux of things becomes solid tangible time, a solid idea of time.
The inquisitive monkey awakens from his blackout, but he does not awaken completely. He awakens to find himself trapped inside of a solid, claustrophobic house with just five windows. He becomes bored, as though captured in a zoo behind iron bars, and he tries to explore the bars by climbing up and down. That he has been captured is not particularly important; but the idea of capture id magnified a thousand times because of is fascination with it. If one is fascinated, the sense of claustrophobia becomes more and more vivid, more and more acute, because one begins to explore one’s imprisonment. In fact fascination is part of the reason he remains imprisoned. He is captured by his fascination. Of course at the beginning there was the sudden blackout which confirmed his belief in a solid world. But now having taken solidity for granted, he is trapped by his involvement with it.
Of course the inquisitive monkey does not explore all the time. He begins to become agitated, begins to feel that something is very repetitive and uninteresting, and he begins to become neurotic. Hungry for entertainment, he tries to feel and appreciate the texture of the wall, attempting to make sure that this seeming solidity is really solid. Then, assured that the space is solid, the monkey begins to relate to it by grasping it, repelling it or ignoring it. If he attempts to grasp the space in order to possess it as his own experience, his own discovery, his own understanding, this is desire. Or, if the space seems a prison to him so that he tries to kick and batter his way out, fighting harder and harder, then this is hatred. Hatred is not just the mentality of destruction alone; but it is even more a feeling of defensiveness, defending oneself against claustrophobia. The monkey does not necessarily feel that there is an opponent or enemy approaching; he simply wants to escape his prison.
Finally the monkey might try to ignore that he is imprisoned or that there is something seductive in his environment. He plays deaf and dumb and so is indifferent and slothful in relation to what is happening around him. This is stupidity.
To go back a bit, you might say that the monkey is born into this house as he awakens from the blackout. He does not know how he arrived in this prison, so he assumes he has always been there, forgetting that he himself solidified the space into walls. Then he feels the texture of the walls, which is the Second Skandha, Feeling. After that, he relates to the house in terms of desire, hatred and stupidity, the Third Skandha, Perception-Impulse. Then, having developed these three ways of relating to house, the monkey begins to label and categorize it: “This is a window. This corner is pleasant. That wall frightens me and is bad.” He develops a conceptual framework with which to label and categorize and evaluate his house, his world, according to whether he desire, hates, or feels indifferent to it. This is the Fourth Skandha, Concept.
The monkey’s development through the Fourth Skankha has been fairly logical and predictable. But the pattern of development begins to break down as he enters the Fifth Skandha, Consciousness. The thought pattern becomes irregular and unpredictable and the monkey begins to hallucinate, to dream.
When we speak of “hallucination: or “dream,” it means that we attach values to things and events which they do not have. We have definite opinions about the way things are and should be. This is projection: we project our version of things onto what is there. Thus we become completely immersed in a world of our own creation, a world of conflicting values and opinions. Hallucination, in this sense, is a misinterpretation of things and events, reading into the phenomenal world meanings which it does not have.
This is what the monkey begins to experience at the level of the Fifth Skandha. Having tried to get out and having failed, he feels dejected, helpless, and so he begins to go completely insane. Because he is so tired of struggling, it is very tempting for him to relax and let his mind wander and hallucinate. This is the creation of the Six Lokas or Six Realms. There is a great deal of discussion in the Buddhist tradition about hell beings, people in heaven, the human world, the animal realm, and other psychological states of being. These are the different kinds of projections, the dream worlds we create for ourselves.
Having struggled and failed to escape, having experienced claustrophobia and pain, this monkey begins to wish for something good, something beautiful and seductive. So the first realm he begins to hallucinate is the Deva Loka, the God Realm, “heaven,” a place filled with beautiful, splendid things. The monkey dreams of strolling out of his house, walking in luxuriant fields, eating ripe fruit, sitting and swinging in the trees, living a life of freedom and ease.
Then he also begins to hallucinate the Asura Realm, or the Realm of The Jealous Gods. Having experienced the dream of heaven, the monkey wants to defend and maintain his great bliss and happiness. He suffers from paranoia, worrying that others may try to take his treasures from him, and so he begins to feel jealousy. He is proud of himself, has enjoyed his creations of the God Realm, and this has led him into jealousy of the Asura Realm.
Then he also perceives the earth-bound quality of these experiences. Instead of simply alternating between jealousy and pride, he begins to feel comfortable, at home in the “human world,” the “earthly world.” It is the world of just leading a regular life, doing things ordinarily, in a mundane fashion. This is The Human Realm.
But then the monkey also senses that something is a bit dull, something is not quite flowing. This is because, as he progresses from the Realm of the Gods to the Realm of the Jealous Gods to the Realm of Human Beings, and his hallucinations become more and more solid, then this whole development begins to feel rather heavy and stupid. At this point he is born into the Animal Realm. He would rather crawl or moo or bark then enjoy the pleasure of pride or envy. This is the simplicity of animals.
Then the process is intensified, and the monkey starts to experience a desperate feeling of starvation, because he really does not want to descend to any lower realms of the gods; so he begins to feel hunger and thirst, a tremendous feeling of nostalgia for what he remembers he once had. This is the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts or Preta Realm.
Then there is a sudden losing of faith and the monkey begins to doubt himself and his world, begins to react violently. All this is a terrible nightmare. He realizes that such a nightmare could not be true and he begins to hate himself for creating all this horror. This is the dream of the Hell Realm, the last of the Six Realms.
Throughout the entire development of the Six Realms the monkey has experienced discursive thoughts, ideas, fantasies, and whole thought patterns. Up to the level of the Fifth Skandha his process of psychological evolution has been very regular and predictable. From the First Shandha each successive development arose in a systematic pattern, like an overlay of tiles on a
roof. But now the monkey’s state of mind becomes very distorted and disturbed, as suddenly this mental jigsaw puzzle erupts and his thought patterns become irregular and unpredictable. This seems to be our state of mind as we come to the teachings and the practice of meditation. This is the place from which we must start our practice.
I think that it is very important to discuss the basis of the path—ego, or confusion—before we speak of liberation and freedom. If I were only to discuss the experience of liberation, that would be very dangerous. This is why we begin by considering the development of the ego. It is a kind of psychological portrait of our mental states. I am afraid this has not been an especially beautiful talk, but we have to 88iface the facts. That seems to be the process of working on the path.
…you just have to see what you are. Often we tend to look for the positive side, the beauty of spirituality, and ignore ourselves as we really are. This is the greatest danger. If we are engaged in self-analysis, our spiritual practice is trying to find some ultimate analysis, an ultimate self-deception. Ego’s intelligence is tremendously talented. It can distort anything. If one seizes on the ideas of spirituality or self-analysis or transcendence of ego, immediately ego takes hold of them and translates them into self-deception.

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