Ego is a well-intentioned mistake. It arises in the process of having to learn responsibility. But the responsibility that we learn is involuntary, it is forced upon us by our parents and others that we grow up with. And because it is forced, there's a lot of resistance, rebellion and irresponsibility. We are made to believe that we are literally responsible, and we begin to take the credit for our life, now it is my life.
This belief in fundamental responsibility shows itself in two different ways: we feel proud when we accomplish something and credit ourselves for it, or we blame ourselves and believe that it's our fault when things do not turn out as expected. That's where ego begins, taking ultimate credit and ultimate blame. Even if I take the blame, that's ego just as much, it will allow me next time to take the credit. Buying into responsibility as if it is ultimately mine, is the root of all ego. Ego is believing that the credit is truly mine.
Ego is not a necessity. Ego wages wars, it destroys. It breeds conflict. It's a cramp. Ego cannot relax, it is tense and lonely and very serious. When it laughs, it laughs out of cynicism, not out of joy. It cannot simply love; it is incapable of intimacy. Ego harbors feelings of superiority and inferiority. Understanding is not really possible. Ego has been humanity's misery all along. The consequences of this mistake, of this idea of actually being responsible, are ugly and frighteningly real.
Yet ego itself is a mirage, it is a false assumption. Ego has no existence of its own, it is imagined, not real. It is a fake principle. It means that we are unaware of our inresponsibility, that's at the heart of it. But language claims that we do these things, that we can take the credit: I do this, I do that, I am breathing, I am intelligent, I love you, these are my children, this is my life. In our language we constantly credit ourselves, we say that we are responsible, or that it belongs to us. Language can be very useful, but maybe we take it too literally.
Thinking that in the final analysis I am somehow responsible, I believe that I must be very important. Ego is either believing that I am exceptionally important or that I am painfully insignificant. You are important, because you are the one who is alive today, it comes down to you! If something needs to be changed, you can do it. If we want love on our planet, it is up to you and me. It is up to the living, because our dead heroes are powerless now. So the living human being is tremendously important. Does that mean that I need to believe that I shape this existence, that it all depends on me? No, we are not that important, life does not depend on me for its existence.
Ego is a mistaken identity, you think you are the choicemaker, the one in control of his existence. Someone who essentially feels and believes that 'I am responsible', will want to control things. And when things are not going his way, he believes that he has lost control over the situation. Ego is control-think. Finally we are not in control at all, some vein pops somewhere and from one second to the next all so-called control is gone for good. To believe that you are out of control is the same thing, it's the other side of being control-minded. Trying to be in control makes it difficult to relax, to trust your intuition, your intelligence. It becomes difficult to take risks, to try something new.
Inresponsibility, opening your eyes to it, challenges the very foundation of this ego. If we can see the truth of existential inresponsibility, ego becomes non-existential. Awareness of your inresponsibility will set you free in that it removes this idea of actually being responsible. Being aware that finally you are completely inresponsible, how can you believe that things are really to your credit? How can I believe that you have to credit me, or how can I believe that I am the sinner, that I am to blame?
This is the key to psychological freedom: realize that you are completely inresponsible, you cannot really credit yourself for anything, nor are you to blame in any way. When this is clear, when this is your authentic, heartfelt understanding, how can there be ego? The idea of I brings in psychology, and that is why this is the liberation: do not accept that idea of I and you are psychologically free.
Inresponsibility is the end of ego. If you are aware of your fundamental innocence, you can't possibly be guilt-ridden, not to the point of a guilt complex. When inresponsibility is no longer a concept, but our authentic understanding, the scent of freedom enters the chambers of the human heart. The essence of psychological weight dissolves, and responsibility becomes a voluntary and natural phenomenon, it is not a burden on your heart.
About the author
About the book
Principles and Paradigms
» 3. Innocence
What is Forced Responsibility?
Inresponsibility, not Irresponsibility
- Ego and Psychological Liberation
5. Alive Silence