Are You Letting Your Ego Hinder Your Spiritual Growth?

 I’m sure when most people see the word ego, their first reaction is the common connotation of  one being full of themselves, one being greater than they are, aloof or grandiose of mind.  This is not incorrect and  right on the money.   I’m also aware, many people will think of the clinical psychological definition of the ego as proposed by Freud.  He explained the ego as the reality tester, planning, control, reason and common sense.  The “I”, the mediator between primitive urges and reality .

However, I am thinking more of the connotation of the ego that is centered around the selfish “I”.  The part of you that says “I can’t believe someone said that about me” or “I will deal with the pain because I know I can take it, and he/she can’t”.  Or the most prevelent thought of today that is “I’m gonna do me”, the me ego.    The part of the mind that hinders us from our greatest Spiritual growth.

What I find interesting, is there are so many people that are professing one way of life or another, be it Rastafari, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Ifa or adepts in various other ways, and they don’t appear to have confidence in the very teachings they profess. 

 The first encounter that made me take notice, was on an occasion, when I had the opportunity to attend a lecture put on by a particular group.  Now, the people of this particular sect opened the lecture to the public, which was on great and little known queens of Ancient Kemet or Egypt.  Yet, the people that hosted the event were very cold and non friendly to those that weren’t part of their sect.  Once the lecture was over all went out into the atrium of the theater to purchase books, dry goods, cd’s, dvd’s or artwork.  I found it very strange for a group that, through their music, profess a lot of brotherly and sisterly love to be so unfriendly.  It was almost as if they wanted to sell us their wares, but didn’t want to engage in any friendly verbal exchange at all.

On another occasion I went to a lecture by Runoko Rashidi on the African presence in prehistory on each continent on the planet.  When I arrived I found that there was food being sold, and i wanted to eat since I hadn’t eaten all day.  I got in line to wait my turn to order.  I looked at the board showing what was being served and the price associated with it.  I decided on rice and peas, and greens, as I’m not a big fan of tofu which, was the other entree on the menu.  The line was long, so by the time I got to order, there were virtually no greens left, only about a tablespoon full.  I ordered the rice and peas and the last of the greens.  Since there was a tablespoon or less of greens left, I was surprised when the woman taking the payment still charged me the full price for the food.  She did offer the fried tofu and veggies, but I declined advising her I don’t care for tofu.  Since I didn’t get a full serving of greens I really didn’t expect that she still wanted the same price as if I got a full serving.  I paid, sat down, ate, and waited for Runoko Rashidi to give his lecture.  I later found out the server and caterer of the food was a local radio host on Sunday nights, hosting a cultural program for the uplift of “the community” and humanity over all.   So, what is really going on?  Why are there so many people into the sciences of life, yet not really living what they study?

It seems to me that many people are often associated with a religion, martial art, meditation group, masjid, temple, church or house for the shear bragging rights of saying that I’m this or I’m that.  Practicing what is being taught seems to be less of an occupation than having the ability to say I’m Rasta or I’m a Christian.  Living the actual tenets is of less importance than stating the name of a sect.  This seems to be the problem when one is confronted with the opportunity to extend the power of their teachings, yet all too often fall back on what bolsters their own ego.  It’s great to say I am a practitioner of Tai Chi forms, but don’t work to build good character and being sensitive to the energies I come in contact with.  Otherwise it’s only lip service and not spirit service.  Do you worship by being what you profess?  Or do you stay in a form of worship that leaves  you “hoping” to one day attain what your master teaches?

If we could release ourselves from the illusion that titles or groups makes us who and what we are, then we will grow into the teachings we profess.  What is it, if I speak the words of love to some one, yet physically do things opposite of what it is to love?  Can we be true to what we profess if we do not do the work of being what we profess?  Its good to say I am of a particular order but, worth nothing if we work opposite of the teachings of that order.   If you lose your ego what do  you lose?


9 comments on “Are You Letting Your Ego Hinder Your Spiritual Growth?

  1. our upbringing inculcates into us certain attitudes, certain postures that we just recognise as ‘right’ and ‘correct’. When we encounter others from a different class or social order, we recognise the differences immediately, but don’t register the common ground. That ‘other’ acts as a challenge to our ‘mind state’; we feel the need to defend our ground against an alternative view on the same issue. Defences go up on both sides.

    it is hard to dissolve the ego; it is what we identify with. Just like we implicitly accept this body as ‘ours’, so too all the attitudes and memories we have, we say these are ‘me’ and ‘mine’.

    Transcendental and Transpersonal Experiences are the best way to overcome this ego barrier; without necessarily entailing ego death.

  2. “Do you worship by being what you profess? Or do you stay in a form of worship that leaves you “hoping” to one day attain what your master teaches?”

    Profound question…

  3. What an excellent post Ensayn.

    It’s interesting that you specifically named Rasta. For a long time I trodded RastafarI and before that I was a Christian. Both experiences have really colored the way I view religions/philosophies. One of the main mantras in RastafarI is that it is a way of life and not a religion yet many aspects of my experience in RastafarI have left me with the same bitter taste in my mouth as Christianity did. It’s the coldness to others who are not Rasta. It’s the judgment. It’s the dogmatic adherence to things that might not be practical for everyone. It is the competition (I’m more Rasta than you are). All the while talking about one love. When I realized that dreadlocks just wouldn’t come out of my head is when everything became very clear for me. I would greet someone who was Rasta and because I didn’t have a “crown”, I would get the sideways glance. Or if I was walking with my husband who does look typically Rasta, he would get hailed and I would be practically ignored–even if I too was greeting. So what, now? You only greet and show love to your own? I could have stayed in church for that. I honestly felt that RastafarI was a totally different kind of thing only to find out that humans are humans–all across the spectrum.

    What I have learned is to work daily to stay away from labels. I will say I incorporate certain principles into my life but I never want to box myself in again. In shying away from labels, I feel personally free to embrace the teachings that resonate with me without feeling obligated to behave a certain way or believe everything. It is more important to me to live true to the teachings than to be called a certain name.

    Thanks for such an insightful post.

  4. I find it striking at how much in common followers of various faith traditions treat those who are “outsiders.” We treat our “scripture” as authority for everyone when that is not the case. We even expect others to live and follow the tenets of our faith tradition more closely than we do.

    Human fallibility! I believe the Spirit of our faith tradition (spirit of beauty, justice, etc for secular humanist) should be our guiding light.

    This is a great post and very timely for Christian Advent. I linked to this post.


  5. HG, I wonder why people don’t get this.

    Chi-Chi, I feel your experience, I have on many occasions.

    Angie, so how do you answer the question for yourself?

    ggw_bach, I have wondered why we focus so much on the differences rather than the “common ground.” We can relearn and search out the “common ground” first and look to the differences later.

    All thank you for coming by!

  6. Outstanding post! Thank you for sharing this.

    [Although I did chuckle in recognition of your experience with being expected to pay full price for one bite of greens! LOL! This sort of behavior has become typical of Black servers/cashiers-Black customer interactions. I’ve had to train the cashiers at the Black-owned gas station (that I make a point of using) that yes, I want my purchases put into a shopping bag. Meanwhile, I watch other Black customers walk out carrying their newly-bought juice bottles in their bare hands.]

    The unfortunate reality is that most people come to spirituality for self-entertainment. Period.

    I must admit that I’ve been stagnant for quite some time with my spiritual practice. That is, when I’m not totally “missing in action.”

    I am a believer in “fake it ’till you make it” and “act as if.” I believe that whatever we repeatedly practice eventually becomes our natural habit. So, I try to approximate the behavior that I would like to see become ingrained in my habits. In my interactions, I try to “act as if” I was already more evolved spiritually, act as if I was patient, act as if I was considerate, etc.

    So, I try to “act as if” while I’m looking for my spiritual breakthrough.

    Peace, blessings and solidarity.

  7. Thanks for coming by Khadija, I think far too many people unwittingly stay locked in the fake it til you make it behavior. There may be sincere efforts by many to “try and be patient” or “I was trying to be nice”, yet inwardly they are really putting up a front. How hard is it to just be nice? Patience is much more difficult to attain than being nice and does take work, an internal work that many ironically don’t have the patience to do.

    On your spiritual practice (missing in action) you have reached a level in your spiritual practice that’s not being fulfilled by the “normal” setting of religious rights and sacraments. Maybe its time to take it up a notch. Maybe its time to delve into the more mystical practices of your faith!

  8. Hey there!

    This is really thought-provoking!!

    I agree with Hagar’s Daughter’s observation that sometimes people act as though THEIR reference point of spiritual authority is everyone else’s!

    I am glad that I had the opportunity to have been the only Christian person in my family because I have been able to listen to others who do not share the beliefs that I have on an ongoing basis. I have spoken to many Christians who think it’s impressive to say that they NEVER engage with non-Christians.

    {shaking my head}

    People in church are always stunned to hear me say that the U.S. is the fourth largest non-Christian nation in the entire world… they want to believe that this is a Christian nation…

  9. Peace,
    Right and exact. Being a hypocrite to me is the worst ‘sin’. Though I am not a Christian I grew up as one. My father is a minister and what I always noticed is that he paid extreme attention to visitors. It is ‘easy’ to speak with the ‘converted’ yet when you speak and commune with those who are not of your path it really shows if you Understand what it is you profess. Good post.


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