Tuesday, 6 July 2010

What is the ego?

“We exclude the Subject of Cognizance [knowing subject] from the domain of nature that we endeavour to understand. We step with our own person back into the part of an onlooker who does not belong to the world, which by this very procedure becomes an objective world. [We are unaware] of the fact that a moderately satisfying picture of the world has only been reached at the high price of taking ourselves out of the picture, stepping back into the role of a non–concerned observer.”
- Erwin Schrödinger, Theoretical Physicist, Nobel Prize Winner.

The Western use of the term ego is often used to mean “an inflated sense of pride in your superiority to others”. We may refer to someone as “having a big ego”, meaning they have a disproportionately high regard for themselves. However, this is a very limited use of the term ‘ego’. It’s a highly worthwhile activity to consider the true meaning of the word.

The concept of ego relates to the perception of subject and object. It is a commonly accepted premise that the world consists of objects (entities) which are perceived by subjects (observers). Most languages accept the subject-object premise as a predicate. For example we may say:

· I [subject] gave him [object] the book.

I define the deeper meaning of the word “ego” as: The perception of a distinction between subject and object. From this structure of language arises all concept of division and separateness: us and them, myself and other, me and what happened to me, myself and my environment.

By this rationale, to judge another as having a big ego, is as equally egoic to being the one who to whom the quality of having a big ego is ascribed! Judge not lest ye be judged!

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