Ego and enlightenment

by Jack on March 2011

The awakened mind experiences Oneness with all that is. In truth, everything that you see is part of you, and vice-versa. All is part of the same continuum of Being, all is One.

Infinite love, forgiveness, compassion, unity, and gratitude, all blend together into a single flowing emotional river of Oneness. To experience this directly is the enlightenment state. All thought of duality and separation departs from the awakened mind as the Oneness of Being is experienced directly. The thought of harming another is inconceivable, because the unity of all things is seen by the observer, not as an intellectual abstraction, but as the underlying nature of things as they really are

“Love thy neighbor as thyself” [1] – not “as much as thyself”, for that would imply separation and duality, which is correctly seen as unreal. Literally, “as” thyself – because the reality is that you are both aspects of the One Consciousness, that happen to be temporarily manifested now in the illusory world of form.

At one level of consciousness, the ego is the enemy. That thought-stream of monkey mindedness that flows through our brains is frustrating for many of us, even (or perhaps especially) if we don’t recognize that it arises spontaneously. The difference between us and the noisy homeless person talking to himself on the street corner is that we keep our stream of random thoughts inside our heads, where it won’t scare other people. Unfortunately or fortunately, we’re more similar than we think. Some of us identify with that stream of thoughts – we feel guilty when we have thoughts that we aren’t proud of, we feel angry in response to angry thoughts, we feel sad as a reaction to sad thoughts. Identifying with the judging, evaluating, and criticizing part of the mind is a common thing for people to do, and also tends to lead to uncomfortable and negative moods.

At another level of consciousness, we recognize the Oneness of all things and the impossibility of the existence of a real “enemy”, especially one that is just a part of our own mind. Seen from this level, the ego can be experienced as a difficult, but nonetheless cherished, friend. It is the pain of ego-bound living that inspires us to practice meditation every day, to work toward awakening, and, once awakened, to help others to do the same [2]. Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing – we would have no reason to awaken. Everything would be good enough. Sleepwalking through life would be good enough. Ego-based discomfort, as experienced within the world of form, ignites the fire within that drives us to awaken from the dream, and to see the world with new eyes.

In the awakened state, what happens? Awakening reduces the volume of our stream of thoughts. It is associated with longer and longer gaps between unintentional thoughts. These gaps in thought behave like episodes of connection with timeless Being, during which we simply exist, and observe the world around us. Even when thoughts do occur, the awakened mind is far more able to recognize the illusory and transient nature of those thoughts.

In the usual state of existence – sleepwalking and daydreaming – we identify with our thoughts, and actually believe the thoughts we are thinking at any given moment. In this state, it’s common to treat our thoughts as reality. Conversely, in the awakened state, as the silent observer, seeing the dream from outside, it’s easier to recognize the temporary nature of thoughts. We’re able to experience and play with the ego as one facet of our Consciousness and our Self, without believing that it represents the whole.

[1] Leviticus 19:18 – Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.
[2] Compare to the Four Vows of the Bodhisattva – All living beings without number, I vow to liberate. Endless blind desires, I vow to uproot. Dhamma gates beyond measure, I vow to enter. The great way of Buddha, I vow to attain.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin Velasco March 6, 2011 at 04:54

Wow Jack, perfect timing on this article, this is exactly what I needed!

“Identifying with the judging, evaluating, and criticizing part of the mind is a common thing for people to do, and also tends to lead to uncomfortable and negative moods.”

I’ve been doing this lately and it’s only been slowing me down. My friends I’ve been spending time with have been calling me out on it too!

“In the usual state of existence รขโ‚ฌโ€œ sleepwalking and daydreaming รขโ‚ฌโ€œ we identify with our thoughts, and actually believe the thoughts we are thinking at any given moment. ”

It seems like every time I develop a big ego and strongly identify with my thoughts, I experience a humble wake up call via Kick in the Balls by Life.


Jack March 6, 2011 at 10:18

Glad this article was valuable for you! I wrote it as a reminder for myself too. ๐Ÿ™‚

The ego’s real, and noisy, and part of us, but it’s not the whole story.


Mike Li March 30, 2011 at 08:50


I just got done reading Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book “Manifest your Destiny”

He covers alot of what your talking about. I just recently started putting this principles into practice and can already feel a shift that’s hard to explain. well said though. It takes certain individuals to understand what your saying but I hear you loud and clear. The one concept that resonant’s with me is being “infinitely patient” with zero attachment to the outcome.



Jack March 30, 2011 at 12:31

Thanks for the suggestion, Mike. I have read some of Wayne Dyer’s writing and watched some of his video productions but I haven’t heard of that one. I’ll check it out.

I love the concept of infinite patience with zero attachment to outcome!


rob November 18, 2011 at 13:36

Hi Jack … nice website …. I can relate to many of your insights and ideas … however, it is important to remember that EVERYTHING you or I or anyone else speculates about must be left in the realm of opinion … we should always be mindful of not lecturing one another and mistaking our perspectives for FACTS … while your ideas MAY be true, we must leave them in the realm of opinion … it’s really ok “NOT TO KNOW” about the things we cannot know … it’s also ok to share our opinions about that which cannot be known … while I agree with many of your insights, I do not mistake my opinions for fact … good luck with your website and don’t forget there are many things we can know and many things we cannot …


Jack November 18, 2011 at 14:07

Hi Rob,

Thanks for commenting!

I tend to interpret everything I know (or think I know) as provisional – and susceptible to revision or correction as future data comes to light. Some things are in the 99.9% range (e.g. the sun will rise tomorrow), some are in the 50% range, and some are in the ‘undefined / currently unknown or unknowable’ range. So whenever I declare anything – however confidently or authoritatively – it’s with the unspoken stamp that it might be wrong now, or proved wrong tomorrow …

And in some cases, it’s useful to treat your opinions or beliefs as fact, regardless of their literal truth. For example, beliefs about one’s inner states and feelings tend to help drive those states and feelings … so one might as well believe oneself to be a happy, confident person …

Thanks again for reading and commenting!


rob November 18, 2011 at 19:57

Hi Jack … interesting points … from another angle we could say that we need not even “believe” we are happy and confident if we KNOW it without the need for beliefs of any kind … this leaves the egoic thinking/believing mind out of the picture … when we say sometimes “there are no words … “, this is one of the situations we are talking about …. namaste


Jack November 19, 2011 at 15:19

Rob, I agree that’s an even better situation

Believing can be a starting point – but “knowing” at a fundamental level is a deeper, stronger, and more fundamental level of understanding.


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