The first time I read the word “ego” was on high school, studying Freud’s theory of identity, ego and super-ego, and really it caught my attention: before it I thought I am a being with only one mind, but then I saw we really have more than one mind, and the worst is that these minds can fight between they! Moreover, I became confused, for I thought I lost my own individuality, lost between many “minds”: who really was I?
Many years ago, I read another great book: The power of now, by Eckhart Tolle; again, the word ego appeared, but now with a different and very worst meaning. In these time, I didn’t realize the true, I thought that Tolle was exaggerated, because for him the ego is like the devil dwelling in the human being, the cause of the wars, and many others evil things.
Some months ago, as a result of a long personal crisis, I felt something similar to the description of Tolle for myself; these night I was in my living room after a huge work day, lost in my negative thoughts; I remember I could not see any solution, I believed I was in a hopeless situation. Suddenly, it happened. Something inside me started to dissolve, this was the feeling, like a physical and real feeling. In fact, I told my wife “I’m dissolving”. Of course, she didn’t understand me, and she ignored my comment.
This situation is similar to the one reported by Tolle: he was too in a desperate situation, without any exit, maintained for a too long time; the result was a dissolution of a part of his mind, this complex structure, made of thoughts, that we named as ego, a very important part of our personality. Tolle’s experience was nice: as he says, he switched to a happiness state, in which all the bad thoughts can’t exist, and all the world around seems a incredible beautiful site. But unfortunately, it was not my case.
When part of my ego dissolved, at the same time all my desires did it too. This event brought me peace, true, for I didn’t desire changes in my situation anymore, but the collateral effect was I didn’t desire anything anymore! In such state, I was like a zombie, live but void. In the following days, my body becomes weak, I walked like I was eighty years old, and to live lost all the interest for me. It was a peaceful state, without the pain and anger I felt before, true, but it did not a good state yet, of course.
I needed some months for recover life; slowly, I discovered that we can enjoy the little things of life, such as a cup of coffe, a walk in a forest, a job well done and finished, and so, without feel any desire nor craving. And I think, after meditate about it, that this is the point: craving. When we let our mind become messed with pleasure experiences, real and imaginary, maybe future ones, mind generate strong thoughts of desire, that are mixed with our personality in a dangerous combination, because we imagine we really are our desires, giving them our vital energy. Then, when this desires don’t become fulfilled, frustration comes, and pain, and anger too. That was my situation.
In my present state I do my best without craving about the results. I enjoy the pleasures of life without become a prisoner of them. I’m not my desires. Eventually desires appears in my mind, is a natural behavior, but I don’t let them to stay in my mind, they only fly in procession and go away, dissolving their energy. By the way, my own words remember me now a Zen book that was read for my father in the 70’s, “Zen and the birds of appetite” by Thomas Merton. Quoting it:
“The birds may come and circle for a while… but they soon go elsewhere. When they are gone, the ‘nothing,’ the ‘no-body’ that was there, suddenly appears. That is Zen. It was there all the time but the scavengers missed it, because it was not their kind of prey.”
Yeah, this is the feeling, Merton named it Zen, Tolle named now power, etc. Names are not important. I only want to share here that the state exists, I can say it for my own experience.