Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Observing the ego

I told a friend of mine, Anna, how my ego fights against me wanting to give my customers more value for their money. It wants me to squeeze every resource/purchase to the utmost, even to the point where it might dilute the quality of the products I deliver.
My friend is educated in psychology and anthropology, so it amazed me when I saw how close her methodology of personal growth is to the one I have arrived at from non-dualistic studies.
She wrote:

Yeah, I think I know what you mean. :)
I cannot say this never happens to me.

Actually I can see this from two points of view. One is the Ego, greed, etc.

But nowadays I am also more and more in the cognitive science point of view, with the concept of modularity. It is now a widely accepted knowledge that there are a lot of subprograms running in the brain, some quite specific, the modules. The modules in their functioning are not much influenced by my will, at least quit not as much as we think they should, us being conscious beings.

If I am sitting in a silent waiting room, and two people are discussing, I basically cannot prevent myself listening to and understanding what they are saying. If I am shown a face I know, I cannot prevent myself recognizing the person. Some subprograms can be created. Driving a car becomes a subprogram after a certain amount of practice, a big part of it is done without conscious supervision.

I think this "you have to squeeze the most out of it" is also a subprogram. I think not very sophisticated. It can work in a very stupid way. I remember I have spent some time calculating if I should buy 1 parisian metro ticket or 10, knowing that if I buy 10, it costs less / ticket, but I may not find the tickets when I need them, because now I quite seldom go to Paris. I did seriously think about it, and that involves only about 2 euros. And in contrast I forgot to take the steps to get some money back for my airplane ticket to the field, 200 euros. That is quite stupid and irrational, but these subprograms are usually specific and rigid.

Knowing all this, and having had a lot of opportunity of observing an interesting sample of homo sapiens (myself), and some other interesting samples too, I now see this in this way:
- I don't need to feel guily of doing of thinking stupid things, because this is how my brain architecture works
- I do have a control on the output of those subprograms. If I consciously don't care about some, those subprograms will work less, present their output in a less loud way. So in this indirect way I do have control on the subprograms themselves. I think they shrink.
- I cannot eradicate them. Just acknowledge them, not give them too much importance, but not denying them either.
- And I think that Consciousness may grow somehow independent from those subprograms and make choices about what is important.

So this is the motto I have these days. "This is not me. It is my subprogram." :)

It is clear to me that she is doing exactly what I am doing, having learned from A Course In Miracles and Ken Wapnick to observe the ego, and not be upset, and not do anything about it. This will make it lose power over time.
Because the Ego can't observe itself. It can't observe anything, it is totally reactive. Only the HS (Higher Self or Holy Spirit) can observe, so perforce if you are observing, you are looking from the HS's viewpoint.


Mark Thiessen said...

Wow! That's wonderful! She gets it and didn't even study the Course.

eolake said...

Yep, Anna is a freak. :-)

neeraj said...

Yes, science (and especially brain research) and spiritual wisdom are growing together more and more, as I'm observing since decades.

@Anna: Nice to hear from you!

BTW, I mentioned earlier in Annas Blog my dissertation, and that I was able to develop a mathematical framework to describe my experimental findings - and I used this kind of idea about subprograms (not 100% exactly) ... I assumed brain hardware subunits with built-in individual decision algorithms depending on their individual task, and it was very successful in this case.

But still, its only a model with a certain range of application - there are other findings in brain research where this model doesn't work.

And, to observe the ego, witnessing all inner movements without evaluating or doing anything with it is exactly what Osho teached me about meditation.

By observing the ego in this kind it gets weaker and weaker and doesn't have anymore the same grip on you as before ... alternatively you may say: Ego is a lie, having no substance, and if you look at it closely it dissolves more and more as any lie you are confronting.