The ego is that part of our beings that we know. It is the top most portion of our being, the tip of the iceberg. It is created out of and rests on the solid foundation of the iceberg that is the rest of our true being. Yet it doesn’t know this fact, because the rest of our being is submerged and hidden within the depths of the ocean that is the Unknown.
Being the only known portion of our being, the ego clings to the known. It obsesses over the physical aspects of reality, clinging to the world that it can touch, feel, smell, taste or hear, while deeply mistrusting all that invisible spiritual or non-physical nonsense (to it).
The ego plays up the permanency of the current situation in Life, pretending that what is so right now will be so forever more or that it must remain so forever more in order for it (the ego) to survive. It also spends vast amounts of energy trying to create permanency by accumulating as much knowledge as possible, in an attempt to pacify its fear and attempt to know how the future will occur. In gaining this knowledge, it usually operates by analyzing the past, while using this analysis in the present in order to create a type of knowable and predictable cycle into the future. How many of us live in various types of these predictable cycles?
The ego’s game is all an illusion though. You see, it knows that every moment begins with a dive into the Unknown, into the rest of our being, but it deeply fears that Unknown, so it tries to cover up its fear by creating expectations in order to create the illusion of predicting what is in the Unknown. It creates the illusion that the Unknown doesn’t really exist, when it surely and truly does. You know that babbling in your head about what you think is going to happen next, or what that person thinks of you, or some other chatter? That’s the ego clouding your awareness of the Unknown.
The ego becomes more and more paranoid and anxious, as more and more expectations are not met and it realizes that no matter how much it knows, the future still remains largely unknown and unpredictable. This paranoia then tends to cloud its operations, limiting the actions it allows us to take to actions that will create as knowable an outcome as possible. An example: It encourages us to stay at the job we hate because at least it knows that there is a paycheck waiting for us every two weeks or so.
Operating under a thick layer of expectations, the ego is also the portion of us that gets upset when Life takes one of its many unpredictable and inevitable turns. It then uses the evidence of that unpredictability to create more paranoia and more anxiety, creating an increasingly restrictive and suffocating life experience in the process.
What is the solution to this mess then? Many spiritual thinkers think the way is to subvert the ego in some way, so that we can realize the true nature of our being. I partially agree with this idea, but I do not see the ego as something that needs subverting, but rather enlightening. I see the ego as a valuable portion of our being, one that allows us to experience the separation that causes the experience of physical reality. I believe it needs enlightenment so that it perceives the foundation of the solid iceberg upon which it, the tip, rests.
The ego must understand that its fear of the iceberg, of the Unknown, is what is causing the fearful experiences to rise up from it. It must learn to realize the futility of attempting to know the Unknown, and instead learn to trust the Unknown. It must learn that the Unknown is not an alien force trying to destroy it, but rather that it is the rest of its own being. It must learn that surrendering in vulnerability to the Unknown is not laying down to die, but rather waking up to really live. It must learn that the Unknown is the source of its power and that trying to control the Unknown by creating expectations and restricting actions in order to predict the movement of Life is like the tip of the iceberg trying to control the foundation. It has been a very tiring job trying to control that iceberg, and the poor ego deserves a rest, don’t you think?