Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Ego Cage

The problem with the Euro-centric (aka Western Culture; aka white man’s world) concept of ego is how constrictive it becomes. It is impossible to remain within the parameters of the construct of “ego” as identified by Western Culture and function as a healthy individual. While the word is derivative of Ancient Greek culture, it has gone through a transformative redefinition process in order to reflect the cultural ideals of the time and place that has rendered it an ineffective term with respect to the human psyche.

The dilemma is borne out of the empirical need to generate a system of “otherness” that allows the King of the Empire to be considered a person chosen by the unseen spiritual guidance (reductively referred to as “God” in the Euro-centric construct of the hour) to hold dominion over all subjects under him. The King is perfect and the subjects are imperfect, and that is how it will be forever and ever. As such, the ego, that definition of “self” within the subordinate subject in the Kingdom, is an imperfect ego. This model of “self”, that has been distorted from the original concept in order to impose dominance over society, implies that all those under the King suffer from some imperfection and can never achieve the state of perfection because God will only choose one and that one is the current King. (Most Kings came into power through physical prowess or under-handed treachery, but details are always irrelevant in matters such as subjecting subjects to subjection.)

A few centuries after the Order of the Sacred King had been well established throughout Europe, along comes a group of people with the bigger, bolder plan that redefined the ego into an even greater dysfunction of humanity. The deification of Jesus of Nazareth is well documented in historical sources not readily available to the general public (subjected subjects don’t need to know the facts) wherein a similar model of a God-appointed human being becomes the King over all, As that person is no longer resident in the physical realm, it is up to others to define the role and manner with which the subjects are to follow as members of that “Kingdom of God”. Unlike the small tribal groups that functioned in Europe for a few eons before all of this happened, where the King became King because he was a leader of warriors (which meant he was out in the front line of battle when such an event occurred) those in charge of ruling over society were well entrenched in secure quarters. Should a battle break out, they gave orders from the safety of their secure quarters and men on the battle field, less worthy of the blessing of safety during battle, had to carry out those orders. This became the model for the “sacred order of society” as well as the secular (or profane).

Thus a society evolved out of the notion that regular humans are imperfect and incapable of achieving the status of perfection that only God could award to one person and one person only. This negative feedback from a dominate force rendered those of that society into servitude to that dominate force which was also made up of mere mortals. It’s a great power grabbing scheme. Unfortunately, it also suggests, as a dogmatic religion, that human beings can achieve perfection in the spirit world after their demise by way of giving up their will and lives to the control and power of the dominate human persona. The philosophy of the imperfect ego suggests that the person is not good enough, will never be good enough, and the best that person can hope for is to sacrifice their life and compromise their integrity as a human being in order to, perhaps, no way to tell for sure, achieve perfection in the next world. This gives the warrior great motivation to fight to the death on the battle field. The leader isn’t there to die first, as things once were in the manner of tribal culture, so the spoils of victory come with very little pain on the part of the supposedly God-appointed leader.

The human ego as a function of the warrior in battle, is the will to survive. Diminishing that construct in any way diminishes the warrior’s will to survive and becomes a model of fatalistic defeatism as a function of “self”, no matter what the outcome for society or the enrichment of the (non-warrior) leaders. When the construct of the fatalistic imperfect self is imposed upon society at large, there is a constant anxiety of not being good enough, which leads to fear-based behavior that explodes into materialistic efforts to possess enough stuff so that the person takes on the appearances of Godly features. The person is never going to be good enough within this construct, so the focus is futile, while the true human nature issue of being a person whose first goal is to survive and thus after that is to develop spiritually in order to further the ability to survive and pass on the teachings of survival to the offspring is thwarted. The ego that is always going to be imperfect, no matter what, becomes the ego that is fear-based. That gives those who dominate others the power to reap the rewards those under them achieve while the subordinates live and die in order to do this. This yields into societies that praise suicide bombers and support drug addiction to the point of fatal behavior because the feedback from that society is that attempting to do anything else is futile, so why bother.

A philosophy that garners a positive approach to the survival of a person in the role of a warrior, who is willing to sacrifice their life in order to protect the lives of others within their society, would avoid defining “self” or “ego” as an imperfect function of a human being. A better option would be to define the person, in whatever manner or terms, as constantly mutating into a new persona with the ultimate goal of achieving the status of humanly achievable perfection. The first order of business is the survival of the person, after which options can be defined wherein they go through various roles as warrior, parent, spouse, teacher, or grandparent no longer viable enough to provide knowledge or resources to their social group, so the ego arrives at a point of accepting the need to take a walk in the blizzard so that others may have the limited amount of food available. That model of an ego is life-affirming function of a person. It genders the idea that a person can seek to enrich their life and the lives of others through spiritual discipline with the time not spent addressing survival issues, whether this is the protection of the whole social group of people within that society, or the work of parenting as a mother, in what has always been and always will be a life-threatening experience of which humans have to endure in order for the species to survive.  A model of “life-affirmation ego” expands beyond “self” to include others as a function of a healthy ego. The model of the imperfect ego subjected to the will and power of a dominate force is the model of an unhealthy ego that has other agendas at stake other than the survival of the person being subjected to the dominate control of other human beings. As such, the current term of “ego” implies that my human spirit is in imprisoned in a reality imposed upon me from outside forces who seek to have me align myself with that philosophy so as to enrich those in control. I systematically reject the definition of ego as defined by those with ulterior motives and embrace the function of ego that is life-affirming and spiritually dynamic in a manner that makes me feel good about whom I am as a healthy, well-balanced person.

Not only do human beings make terrible deities, but they also make terrible spokespersons for deified human beings. So long as I remain human in function and accept that others function as human beings my life remains a lot healthier. I reject the “ego cage” the white man continually attempts to impose upon my human spirit and embrace the model of “one step beyond….” A-ho!

Oliver Loveday © May 1, 2012 12noon EDT

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