The truth is far simpler than we would like to admit. We create constructs in how we interact with the world to ensure that we (our ego, the thinking part) feels OK and is able to really do whatever the hell it wants. Vice, Victim-hood, expectations, justification, wrong action all require an attention to the future or the past.
We seem to expend a great amount of energy serving the needs of the ego (also a product of a focus on the past or the future) to continue to re-enforce itself, all while obscuring any true sense of self. A self without attachment to external ideas, things, property, vices, or virtues. Instead, we are rooted in a perceived reality thoroughly filtered by the ego. What is WORSE is that the more we heap on ourselves to create an identity, an armor against harm, a sense of worth or entitlement that comes from external to ourselves, the more we have to maintain it. We cannot have armor without having to polish it and care for it. We cannot feel entitled or justified in the wrong action without constant attention to maintaining that perception.
Just like every single piece of physical property you have, the habits of the ego will require some level of energy to maintain. From a quick note written on a discarded envelope to a bicycle, to a house, to a paper clip in the back of the desk drawer that hasn’t seen light in years, all of it will require some attention, some energy, and some focus at some time. It is the same for the ego….. everything that makes it up drains energy and focus from the present to sustain itself….. the ego lives by sucking away energy and awareness from the present.
Most of the “beliefs” and ideologies we have are there simply because “we get something of value out of it”.
Even in negative situations such as arguing and fighting, we are re-enforcing our sense of self. We fight over things we decide are important, but is most of the time really just a feeding of our ego which by its Temporary nature demands that we nurture it, care for it. The ego has to be cared for and told that it is “has worth”, and it can do so by draining energy and attention from others through conflict. Like a wood stove, the ego needs a steady supply of fuel.
Whether situations are negative or positive interactions, it doesn’t matter. It can all be used to drive our sense of self, sense of entitlement, and justifies our behavior. Indeed we often create situations solely to justify predicted or planned behavior. We are motivated to pursue that which we gain value out of, which is not always in line with the pursuing of pleasure and avoiding of pain. The Ego can find value in pain and suffering as easily as in Joy and Happiness.
But a value to whom? Only to our individual Ego.
Concepts of good and bad, positive and negative, right and wrong do not change this fact.
Even identifying with pious or altruistic endeavors, while certainly an alluring state for those wishing to improve themselves, are still only a state of being… subject to change without warning. It provides a sense of answers when there are none, a sense of hope or promise in the future, a defined value system with which to measure your action, but it is a personal construct, a fabricated and invented scale with which to measure, a “thing”; chosen and adopted because of what value it brings to the table for our mind to mull over.
The Ego fears the unknown. The Ego drives us to classify, categorize and run our experiences through an egoic filter to ensure that we gain value out of it, or abstain from it. We reject and accept ideologies not based on merit or truth, but based on preconceived ideas and current desires. We use our mind to fill in holes in thought and logic with mysticism, magic, and beliefs. That is not to say in any way that things like religion are a bad thing, but it is still just a “thing”. A “thing” that will require care and feeding, a “thing” that will be interpreted based on our egoic needs to feel like we are “DOING” something… about “this or that”, but still just a “thing” in that it exists externally and can not be independently verified as truth, but rather needs to be “believed” in, which is to say accepted in the absence of facts.
We construct and use these “Scales” or “measures” on which to place ourselves and gauge ourselves, but we are the creators, the fabricators of the scales. They are simply made up and if we don’t like the measure, it is our own doing, but we often blame and associate the blame to others and external things and become a victim, or justified, or etc….
Free from ego, past behavior can look like absolute madness …… much of it looks like nothing more than child-like tantrums over more complex topics.
A common Idiom is that we should “Bury the Hatchet”, we are more apt to simply bring in another truck load of dirt to cover them up. Hatchets can not be buried. They must be extracted and discarded… but only in the sense of yourself… there are no hatchets that belong to more than one person.
There is no such thing as a “shared experience” in this world with which two people can use to collectively remove these buried hatchets. The hatchets are buried in our own mind and fiercely defended by our ego. They are as much a part of who the ego is, than any other part. Perhaps even more so, but with the slightest understanding that the Ego is part of the mind, and therefore a tool and a reflection of our thoughts rather than your true self, will allow us to cast the ego aside like a winter jacket on a summer day.