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


Napa Valley, California, USA

September 21, 2005

"Ego is the functioning of one's point of view in the attempt to cause that point of view to survive. The verb 'to ego' means 'to perpetuate one's own point of view'."  ... 
"I seem to be a verb." ... Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller
This essay, Ego, is the companion piece to Check Your Ego At The Door.

It was conceived at the same time as Getting Better.

Book and books and books have been written about ego. Almost all of what's been written and said about ego has catered to and for academia and for professional psychologists and for professional psychiatrists and for the spiritual community. For the most part, what's been written and said about ego isn't easily accessible. And even if it were easily accessible, the material isn't in a palatable, pragmatic format that can quickly and easily be gotten and applied to make a profound difference in a person's life, leaving them with new power and freedom and possibilities for the future.

Of the multitudes of distinctions and definitions Werner has articulated and spoken into being, into the listening of human being, and into the very culture of being human on the planet today, arguably none is as succinct, as terse, and as useful as what he's said about the nature of ego ie about what ego really is.

For starters, unlike the way ego shows up in academic, psychological, psychiatric, and spiritual conversations as a noun, when Werner distinguishes ego it's clearly a verb. To ego  (as languaged in Werner's universe) is to survive by perpetuating one's own point of view.

When I distinguish ego and isolate it in this no-nonsense way, it's completely refreshing.

Secondarily it allows for observing ego-ing and how it runs me. Once I become willing to observe myself ego-ing, I can choose to continue ego-ing (that is to say I can choose to continue being run by ego) or to generate a new possibility for being for myself and my life ie to get off it. Even though at first it sometimes seems otherwise, if I tell the truth about it, I really do have a choice in the matter.

Primarily it allows me to notice and to observe and to be with the space in which ego occurs  - in other words, to recognize the being I am that ego-ing shows up for. I start noticing the being I am is really distinct from ego (they're not the same). By isolating ego I distinguish who I am and  I allow ego to be. That's powerful!

The original design of the mind was to guard the being. Now it's usurped that function and has become a full blown tyrant. The mind now functions to guard itself. When the mind functions to guard itself rather than the being it's supposed to guard, it's ego-ing. When it does (which is to say when you notice it does), you can choose to thank the tyrant, to demote it, and to re-assign it its original duties.

From time to time ego will reign supreme anyway regardless of any attempts to defuse its tyranny. When you're lit up by ego like a hundred watt lightbulb, don't deny it. Tell the truth about it. As soon as you tell the truth about ego, it's instantly you rather than it who's in charge. The oft touted notion that ego should be and can be destroyed or purged or even fixed  is (quite simply) evidence of being unclear on the concept. Ego is as much of an absolute component of our structure as an arm or a leg. The appropriate relationship to have with ego is to take responsibility for it.

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