If the Buddha teaches us to let got of our ego, why in the World would I want to find it?
Well, because if I don’t understand what or where it is, then how can I possibly eliminate it? Which led me to asking several monks what the Pali word was for ego. I found a surprising amount of disagreement of what the correct word was. From Ahankara, Mamaayana, Asmimana, and Sakkhaya Ditthi, to the word that I find to be most accurate, which is Atta. But keep in mind, that out of surveying five different well-educated monks, only one of them agreed with me on that word. But why is this important, you may ask? Well I believe it is important because I have found every Pali word to have a profound lesson within that individual word. And like most of these words, it can take a lot of research and absorption before gaining the deeper meaning of the word.
The Pali word Anatta means no-self. Now this is an extremely over-simplified definition, and by clicking the link on the word, you can read the accompanying sutta that will offer much more insight. But for purposes of this post, I will stick with no-self.
And when you remove the first part of that word, what remains is the Pali word Atta. So simply stated, we can obviously see this as the self. And if there is no self, then where is the ego? Ergo, atta equals self equals ego.
Alas, have I found my ego?
It would appear by the disagreement amongst monastics that I could be incorrect about this. But then who says that they are correct? Monastics are still human beings and subject to the same handicaps as the rest of us. Not the least of which is ego!
And I mean this with no disrespect, as I have so much love, gratitude and respect for all monastics. The devote their entire lives to the benefit of all living beings and to sharing the dhamma to the best of their abilities. But still they are human.
This has all led me to see that my path and your path are completely individual experiences. Our discoveries, difficulties and epiphanies happen at different times and places. And we each need to cultivate our own minds to develop insight and wisdom. With the only checkpoints being the awareness of virtue and loving kindness. And if we witness any hardness or aversion, then we know we have strayed from the Noble path. At which time, one can only examine their own mind and perhaps turn to a trusted teacher for encouragement. But the awakenings can only happen on our own. There is no one else who can wake us up, or tell us what is right or wrong. I cannot do this or that, see or understand anything except by personal direct experience. And for now, that can still only happen via the self.
I encourage each of you to not become discouraged. Have confidence in the dhamma, and know that the answers are within you, and only waiting to be exposed. Have patience and gentleness for yourself, and offer this to all those around you. Step by step we are all sharing this experience that we call life, and perhaps the more clearly we see this, the more the self disappears.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.