Tag Archives: Zen

Ego, no ego?

Speaking on the phone to C. the other day, the conversation was around the subject of “ego” and where and if and when it might go.

C., you offered the perspective that the ego dissolves completely and finally upon the death of the corporal body. This of course touches into our earlier conversations surrounding subject of consciousness, identity, and its relationship to the gross realm.

I did further pick up this conversation today with Russ and found our passage a little delightful.

The inquiry was for me, “initially”, around whether in the human development experience there was a fulcrum, possibly in the line of state development (gross, subtle, causal, Turiya, and non-dual) whereby the entirety of the prior experience of the individual was deemed to be in some sense, illusory, or a dream and the experience after the fulcrum was in contrast “awakened” or, “enlightened”. It seemed to me, that having a relationship to such a potentially profound point in an individual’s development would be quite relevant to an interest in “the developing human”.

I seem to be familiar with, or to understand at least to some degree the phenomenon of development along a variety of lines as identified, and studied within the human organism. It felt relevant to me to inquire into the nature of that understanding, what is its ground, and in what manner and circumstance might be entirely subsumed. Further, I’m familiar with so-called “peak experiences” wherein an individual might experience a kind of satori or “awakening” that would last for some time, leaving the individual “changed” in its wake, I mention this, also in contrast to the kind of “fulcrum” I described above.

Russell was describing to me something he had recently heard a Zen teacher described about having entered a time of “no ego” that seemed to last for a while before the teacher ultimately decided to let it go in favor of a new “ego without ego” state. This reminded me of a recent description I heard of a Taoist identification of something called “way no way”.

In considering this, I began to wonder about the nature of action, and action as inquiry, and inquiry as action. If we moved to act, or to inquire, we may well discover that it is relevant to the action, or inquiry to understand its various basis. What precisely is it? What conditions must be met for its life to be fruitful? Where and in what context is it to occur? What are the rules and boundaries governing its existence? Why would I undertake such a thing? Should I undertake such a thing? And finally and possibly most miserably, and maybe most ecstatically, what or who is this I that proposes this in the first place?

Discovering this connection between action, or being, or Eros, and the ego whose nature seems for the time, to elude me I recognize that from this perspective the basis for any action or inquiry I might undertake also fundamentally eludes me.

Logically (to which my devotion is shaky at best) I must conclude that my choices in action are either:

  1. wait before taking any initiative of any kind to find myself in a full understanding, a full embrace and integrally complete (agape) of the ego, whereby the basis of any initiatives can be fully held. Or,
  2. act in unconsciousness, or ignorance of the basis of any initiative I undertake.
  1. To me, the first feels quite noble, to participate in unfolding only from a place of supreme enlightenment. The second on the other hand almost sinister, misguided, or at best, ignorant.

I thought at this point my work was clearly cut out for me… I know I can love and embrace the first, but what about the second…?

To be continued…