Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Check Your Ego At The Door

Grgich Hills, Rutherford, California, USA

July 21, 2016

"Ego is the functioning of one's point of view in an attempt to cause that point of view to survive. The verb 'to ego'  means to perpetuate one's own point of view." ... 
This essay, Check Your Ego At The Door, is the companion piece to Ego.

I am indebted to John Taylor who inspired this conversation.

Cartoon by Lisa Donnelly

New Yorker Magazine

January 21, 2008

Tweaked by Laurence Platt
Werner Erhard has articulated and spoken into being, into the listenings of human beings, into the cultures of being human on the planet today, multitudes of ideas, distinctions, and definitions, arguably few of which seem as succinct, as terse, and as useful as what he's said about the characteristic of ego ie about what ego really is.

Some background: the purpose of the mind is to protect (ie to guard) the being - which is to say, to ensure the survival of the being. When the mind usurps this function in order to protect its own commission as the being's protector, and in so doing ensures its own  survival, that is the ambit of ego (like HAL, the Heuristic ALgorithm 9000 series computer in Stanley Kubrick's Sci-Fi masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey") - and that's all  ego is.

So unlike the way ego shows up in academic, psychological, psychiatric, and spiritual conversations like a noun, when Werner distinguishes ego it is clearly a verb. Watch: to ego  (as languaged in Werner's lexicography) is to survive by perpetuating one's own point of view (getting that is 99.999% of any transformational experience).

Listen: it takes a big  person to distinguish ego this way - in particular, to distinguish ego in the precise moment you're ego-ing  (remember, ego is a verb), and to get over it. In order to survive, there's nothing  the mind won't do to protect itself, and to protect whatever it considers itself to be. Setting ego aside, standing naked and present and open as the being you really are, and choosing not to be run by the visceral, fully automatic  ego, is the act of a big person, of a giant (of a hero actually).

"Check your ego at the door"  first gained traction like a mantra  (if you will) with people prior to starting participating in Werner's work. It could be said distinguishing ego (as differentiated from who you really are) has always been an essential component of Werner's work. Checking your ego at the door, requires taking responsibility for your ego at the outset. But it is more than that. It is a mantra which can be easily and reliably intoned in any situation in life with powerful impact. The thing about checking your ego at the door (quote unquote) is it will be there waiting for you to pick up again after the business at hand is over. And some lucky few will recognize their sublime choices: to leave their egos at the door permanently ie to never pick them up again (but that is a subject for another conversation for another occasion).

The world is set up (which is to say we've set the world up) to deal with ie to interact with people's egos, and to totally gloss over who they really are. Maybe consider that in a world in which everyone checks their ego at the door, there is no better opportunity to try on than interacting with people as who they really are, and instead glossing over their egos. Another way of saying that is this: we've set up the world to deal with ie to interact with people's stuff, and to gloss over people as God. In a world in which everyone checks their ego at the door, there's this priceless opportunity to try on: interacting with people as God, and instead glossing over their stuff.

If you look closely and tell the truth about it, you'll see we live in a world in which we survive by perpetuating our own points of view. It's insane. Even a most cursory glance will confirm it's never worked very well. Rita Mae Brown defines insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

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