blackfence

Exploring the many meanings of ego in nonduality

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Ego is a function of the mental faculties which superimposes the self-identification on various things. "I am" is simply the root of your mind. But ego is "I am this, I am that" (such as, "I am a doctor, I am a martial artist, I am a man, I am a woman, I am rich, I am poor"). What we call mind is made up of four components --

  • The thought field (Mind) -- aka Manasa
  • The identity maker (Ego) -- aka ahamkńĀra
  • The storehouse of impressions, thoughts/emotions/feelings -- aka chitta¬†
  • The intellect -- aka buddhi

In western thought, there is no such clear distinction and all of them somehow are considered to be "mind". The mind itself is not conscious but runs on the reflected light of awareness/consciousness. It is merely an instrument and the ego is a functional component of that instrument. 

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On 5/5/2020 at 2:20 PM, blackfence said:

What is the meaning of ego? The word has many different and complicated meanings in the spiritual literature. Is it the sense that I am? Is it the emotions and fantasies connected to the self-image? Is it identification with these? Is it simply any kind of desire at all? In this video, I go through some of the possibilities and their implications…
 

 

 

Your ruminations were enjoyable, personable, and very open imo. It is indeed an interesting subject with multiple understandings, implications and even negations. And, imo, the bit at the end regarding denial was golden. 

 

Thank you for sharing these ruminations and explorations here. 

 

If I may make a suggestion: close at least a portion of the curtain so your camera isn't struggling with the light differential, and can more easily focus on (and more adequately light) you. Or not, if this was intentional. 

 

And again, thank you.

_/\_

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2 hours ago, dwai said:

Ego is a function of the mental faculties which superimposes the self-identification on various things. "I am" is simply the root of your mind. But ego is "I am this, I am that" (such as, "I am a doctor, I am a martial artist, I am a man, I am a woman, I am rich, I am poor"). What we call mind is made up of four components --

  • The thought field (Mind) -- aka Manasa
  • The identity maker (Ego) -- aka ahamkńĀra
  • The storehouse of impressions, thoughts/emotions/feelings -- aka chitta¬†
  • The intellect -- aka buddhi

In western thought, there is no such clear distinction and all of them somehow are considered to be "mind". The mind itself is not conscious but runs on the reflected light of awareness/consciousness. It is merely an instrument and the ego is a functional component of that instrument. 

 

Did you watch the video? And what were your thoughts on it?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, ilumairen said:

 

Did you watch the video? And what were your thoughts on it?

Not yet. :) 

Ok, I did watch it and its good. ¬†@blackfence¬†IMHO, it is not necessary¬†to distinguish between the "preserver of Self-identity" and the "function of the Antahkarana, i.e. ahamakńĀra". The "preservation of self-identity" is just a result of the superimposition.¬†

 

But it takes a significant amount of contemplation and meditation/practice to come to such an understanding. And the funny thing is, each and every "individual" has to traverse this journey themselves.

 

In my experience, it is easier to explain the different aspects of the mind and if the seeker is sincere (and ready), will find their way to the proper understanding. 

Edited by dwai
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2 hours ago, dwai said:
  • The thought field (Mind) -- aka Manasa
  • The identity maker (Ego) -- aka ahamkńĀra
  • The storehouse of impressions, thoughts/emotions/feelings -- aka chitta¬†
  • The intellect -- aka buddhi

In western thought, there is no such clear distinction and all of them somehow are considered to be "mind".

Nice post, an attempt to translate to Daoism I guess would be:

Manasa = yuan chi

Ahamakara = yuan shen (the black substance/fire)

chitta = ... just storehouse of impressions, or the 'body' that all these energies work upon - yinshen?

buddhi = many writers/sources on this describe it as being beyond the mind and also related to psychic intuition. As such as it is beyond the yuan shen cosmologically at least. Ling?

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On 5/7/2020 at 12:45 PM, ilumairen said:

 

Your ruminations were enjoyable, personable, and very open imo. It is indeed an interesting subject with multiple understandings, implications and even negations. And, imo, the bit at the end regarding denial was golden. 

 

Thank you for sharing these ruminations and explorations here. 

 

If I may make a suggestion: close at least a portion of the curtain so your camera isn't struggling with the light differential, and can more easily focus on (and more adequately light) you. Or not, if this was intentional. 

 

And again, thank you.

_/\_

Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for the tip regarding the light! I'll have to do that for my future videos. 

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On 5/7/2020 at 12:50 PM, dwai said:

Not yet. :) 

Ok, I did watch it and its good. ¬†@blackfence¬†IMHO, it is not necessary¬†to distinguish between the "preserver of Self-identity" and the "function of the Antahkarana, i.e. ahamakńĀra". The "preservation of self-identity" is just a result of the superimposition.¬†

I believe it is useful to discern these two functions, because these are often confused in the spiritual literature. For the seeker, it's useful to understand the ambiguities that come out in this word, and their interrelationship. The preservation of self-image is what, by distracting the mind, prevents the recognition of the real nature of the witness. And this is a psychological phenomenon that can be observed. 

 

At the same time, the real nature of the freedom from this attempted preservation is in recognizing its questionable existence -- because whether it exists is in turn dependent on who it is that is noticing this preservation. So that there is a kind of chicken and egg situation, where the existence of the problem is rooted in the assumption of its existence. Seeing this can help free seekers from the notion that they must be perfect mentally in order to progress, or that the way in which enlightenment purifies the mind is that there is an absence of negative thoughts in the way in which that absence is understood pre-realization.

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12 minutes ago, blackfence said:

I believe it is useful to discern these two functions, because these are often confused in the spiritual literature. For the seeker, it's useful to understand the ambiguities that come out in this word, and their interrelationship. The preservation of self-image is what, by distracting the mind, prevents the recognition of the real nature of the witness. And this is a psychological phenomenon that can be observed. 

I see. That makes sense. But the question is, isn't that the natural outcome of 'shravana - manana - nidhidhyasana'?

That realization in itself is the unveiling. The stories we tell ourselves in this body-mind-personality complex is precisely that "self-image" one strives to preserve. 

12 minutes ago, blackfence said:

 

At the same time, the real nature of the freedom from this attempted preservation is in recognizing its questionable existence -- because whether it exists is in turn dependent on who it is that is noticing this preservation. So that there is a kind of chicken and egg situation, where the existence of the problem is rooted in the assumption of its existence. Seeing this can help free seekers from the notion that they must be perfect mentally in order to progress, or that the way in which enlightenment purifies the mind is that there is an absence of negative thoughts in the way in which that absence is understood pre-realization.

In response to a question about "Who realizes?", I thought about the answer and this is what I could come up with, and is applicable in this conversation as well imho --

 

Nature of ignorance is such that it is both there and not there. It is there when there is a sense of ‚Äúseparateness‚ÄĚ without knowing our true nature. It is clearly seen through as not there when we see our true nature and realize there was never a moment we are not that.
I’ll be wrong if I say no one realizes, and wrong if I say jiva realizes, and certainly wrong if I say Atman realizes. Maybe at the risk of sounding new age, realization always exists.

 

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, dwai said:

I see. That makes sense. But the question is, isn't that the natural outcome of 'shravana - manana - nidhidhyasana'?

 

Sure, but this is part of the sravana-manana process: listening and contemplating.

 

Quote

That realization in itself is the unveiling. The stories we tell ourselves in this body-mind-personality complex is precisely that "self-image" one strives to preserve. 

In response to a question about "Who realizes?", I thought about the answer and this is what I could come up with, and is applicable in this conversation as well imho --

 

Nature of ignorance is such that it is both there and not there. It is there when there is a sense of ‚Äúseparateness‚ÄĚ without knowing our true nature. It is clearly seen through as not there when we see our true nature and realize there was never a moment we are not that.

I’ll be wrong if I say no one realizes, and wrong if I say jiva realizes, and certainly wrong if I say Atman realizes. Maybe at the risk of sounding new age, realization always exists.

 

I agree with all that, though of course there are many angles from which one could speak. The question of who realizes is why Sankara in his Upadesha Sahasri advocates for the concept of chidabhasa‚ÄĒ a reflection of the light of consciousness on the mind. Neither mind nor consciousness realizes but the reflection ‚ÄĒ ‚ÄúThat,‚ÄĚ if anything, is what ‚Äúis ignorant‚ÄĚ and thus ‚Äúrealizes.‚ÄĚ

Edited by blackfence
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9 minutes ago, blackfence said:

 

Sure, but this is part of the sravana-manana process: listening and contemplating.

Nice point :) 

9 minutes ago, blackfence said:

 

I agree with all that, though of course there are many angles from which one could speak. The question of who realizes is why Sankara in his Upadesha Sahasri advocates for the concept of chidabhasa‚ÄĒ a reflection of the light of consciousness on the mind. Neither mind nor consciousness realizes but the reflection ‚ÄĒ ‚ÄúThat,‚ÄĚ if anything, is what ‚Äúis ignorant‚ÄĚ and thus ‚Äúrealizes.‚ÄĚ

hmm...but the reflection is just a reflection. Does it really "realize" anything? :)

 

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4 minutes ago, dwai said:

Nice point :) 

hmm...but the reflection is just a reflection. Does it really "realize" anything? :)

 

That’s a nice koan :). It depends on from which side of the gateless gate the question comes...

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