What Ego Can Teach You
Dalai Lama on Piers Morgan Tonight April 25, 2012:
“I describe myself as a simple Buddhist monk. No more, no less. And I am one of the seven billion human being. Basically we are the same… your emotion, my emotion, your mind, my mind.., same physical. So I always look [at it] that way. We are the same.”
What is a healthy ego? Today when someone mentions the ego it’s usually in a negative connotation. It is the “I” or self of any person. It is the “I” person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. “I” think, therefore “I” am. It is the self-esteem and inner confidence of “me”.
A healthy ego doesn’t need to be right all the time. One can be a confident person and accept the idea that they don’t know everything, but they’re willing to explore what they don’t know. They accept that others have differing views and they’re willing to learn about those views without worry or fear of losing what they believe. They are able to look at new information and data, research it, confirm or deny it and merge it into their own perspectives as appropriate, to broadening their understanding of the world, their spirit within and the Divine Universe around them.
The healthy ego has no reason to boast or put them self above the importance of anyone else. Nor do they need to except the over inflated authority of others who insist on standing above them. They simply are who they are. No more, no less. It is this humility that helps to maintain the perspective that we are indeed all the same. We may have different views or perspectives; but there is room in the world for all views to exist when they can do so with acceptance and tolerance. Accepting that there are many paths to the mountain top and all have their value, their teachings and lessons along the way.
I’ve read recently a common theme from other self-help commentators “humility is not thinking less of yourself it is thinking about yourself less”. I don’t agree with this statement. Humility is knowing who you are and not feeling the need to “prove” it to anyone else. When you have respect for yourself, you hold respect for others. When you believe in yourself, you can more easily believe in others. When you have confidence in yourself and who you are, you can be confident in others and who they are. That’s not thinking of yourself less; it’s thinking of everyone as a whole, on equal footing and equal respect.
It’s not ok to think of yourself less than you would of others. Self sacrifice might be a noble act, but it’s not living in a balance. Even too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Extremes are never a good idea over the long haul. Giving your shirt off your back when you too need a shirt to survive simply transfers the suffering from someone else to you. Being humble means trying to help others help themselves through compassion and support. Having the confidence to know that you cannot save those who do not want to be saved is a hard lesson to learn. But it puts the concept of humility into practice. You are not a super hero who can save others from their self. You can try, but don’t be hard on yourself when you discover there are those who don’t want your help. Or your support.
Expanding your view of the world is a key aspect to growing as a person and a spiritual being. If you cling to old information and ignore the new discoveries around you, then you run the risk of becoming stagnant. And as with many stagnant things, they begin to decay and rot the fabric that binds you with others. Fear of looking at anything new can come from fear of change or the unknown. But the unknown is only hidden until the mind is opened and the knowledge within is discovered. Allowing fear to guide your life and perspective of others can create an atmosphere of hate for those you don’t even know.
Those who have attained knowledge without fear, have also experienced understanding and tolerance; and through this, they have achieved wisdom. They have nothing to prove to the world, because they have already proved all they need to them self. They appreciate the healthy ego and accept the confidence it provides, because they no longer look outside themselves for validation, justification or accolades.
They no longer need people to agree with them, but they can share ideas and take in new perspectives from calm, intelligent debate and discussion. That doesn’t mean they will alter their views or beliefs to your perspectives. Nor does it mean they will think less of you for not altering your views to match theirs. But rather they will extend an open hand and heart of respect and accept you as an equal of spirit, mind and body.
Not everyone who steps onto a spiritual search is doing so to become a servant to their faith. It’s a special calling and some have a knack for it, and others could care less. But that doesn’t lessen their contributions, nor does it diminish their own achievements.
For those that do have the calling as spiritual leaders and teachers, we have an accountability not only to our faith, but to ourselves as well. Most people try to share what they learn and teach to empower the individual. I can tell you what I’ve learned, what I’ve researched and what I believe. But it’s up to you to decide what parts of that to pull into your own life and place on your spiritual path. It is not my mission to lead you down this road or through that door. Nor should it be. Empowerment means giving you the tools to take control of your own destiny and create your own future.
A few, sadly, try to use fear or finger pointing to gain followers and build their self indulgence for power or control. Insisting their view is the only truth, the only perspective or the only way to walk the Earth. Doing so sets their path on a course for divisiveness and alienation. Excluding those who do not share their perspectives or views of history as well as current or future knowledge. It is their desire that education be limited in order to maintain a hold on free thinking and potentially losing members of their flock. In the end, their egotism will get the best of them, if not in their physical lifetime; then in their after life. Whatever they believe that to be.
Empowerment however does just the opposite. It encourages the individual to seek knowledge and understanding beyond that which is taught. To grow beyond the teacher and reach for Divine enlightenment from within. One of the greatest gifts a spiritual teacher can receive is watching one of their students grow beyond their own awareness. From the place of healthy ego and humility, there is no fear or jealousy to be had. We hope that each generation grows beyond our own experiences and moves humanity forward to the next level of understanding and evolution.
The confident practitioner accepts the concept that we are all the same, my mind to your mind, my soul to your soul, my knowledge to your knowledge. We each walk the Earth with the same potential to become one with our inner spirit and the Divine Universe around us. Those with confidence aren’t afraid to nurture this idea within themselves and often seek to nurture it in others.
When I was in college, there was a poster in one of my Psychology classes that I wrote down and always try to remember.
10 Actions of Confident People
- Take risks
- Have self- belief
- Stand up for themselves
- Know they are good enough
- Attract success
- Create good boundaries
- Empower others
- Not too hard on themselves
- Never react with Fear
- Work to expand their perspectives
What actions will you nurture within yourself and within those around you today? Empower yourself by believing in you and you will discover that you will attract those with confidence in themselves who also hold confidence and respect within you.