The Ego As Blind Navigator

by Esther

I never thought of the ego as something that has to do with our thinking, so that is an interesting point that you make. I tend to see the ego as something real within us that is vying for control. A kind of hunger that is always looking for something…

You identify the ego with thinking, which is interesting, because I think there are real limits to what the ego can understand. It’s like the ego is on a short leash… it can’t see beyond thinking. In this sense the ego is half blind, which probably explains why it can’t lead the ‘returning home’ that you describe happening in meditation.

I don’t really understand much about meditation, but I can really relate to the need to cast off the ideas or thoughts of the ego in order to strengthen ourselves and get to the root of things. I guess that the process of stopping and focusing (as happens in meditation) can help us control the ego by allowing us to return to our senses and our intuition.

Having said all that, describing the ego as thinking can be somewhat of a paradox… thoughts are supposed to be connected to awareness, and in this way, the ego can be seen as a small island of awareness within a much larger sea of unawareness.

We are surrounded by forces that we don’t understand and the ego tries to make sense of it all and to give us some measure of control over things. I think that in this way the ego operates as a positive force in our lives.

At the end of the day the ego is our companion, it walks with us on the journey of life, functioning as a compass, or a navigator, which can be very helpful in sailing the seas of life.

I think the important thing regarding the ego is to be careful that we don’t lose the connection to our natural instincts and to our intuition. We shouldn’t allow the ego to become an impenetrable barrier that separates us from life; rather, we can take it as something transparent that we can shape, paint and give colour to.

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Dec 06, 2011
Love your thinking on this...
by: Eli

Hi Esther,

I love the metaphor you used to describe being tied to a short leash and not being able to reach beyond thinking. This rings so true!

The ego may help us navigate the seas of life, but thinking can only take us so far. The mind is a great dissector and analyzer of reality. Its strong point isn't in seeing the whole, or the bigger picture, if you will.

Sailing the seas of life, sooner or later, we come across uncharted waters. This is where our mind / our ego / our thinking comes to its limits. The mind, or ego, tries to make sense out of life using logic. Yet, much of life isn't based in logic. So much of life is just a step out-of-the-mind.

This is where intuition and awareness enter the picture. These are the true navigators when it comes to sailing uncharted waters.

Thinking is based in knowledge. It is based on what is known. Thinking is always rooted in the past. It is of little use to us in navigating the unknown. For the unknown, we need our senses, instincts, intuition, intelligence and awareness (which may simply be different variations of the same thing).

The mind is a superb problem-solving machine. Its rational, logic-based thought process can come up with solutions to many things. Yet, the mind is stumped when it comes to navigating a mystery. Life is full of paradoxes that make absolutely no sense to the mind. The mind just doesn't know where to begin!

Like you mentioned so beautifully in your post, we need to watch that the ego doesn't cut us off from our instincts and intuition - which are the only real navigators we have for uncharted waters. We need to maintain, and sharpen, our awareness.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated!

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