What does ego mean?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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No_Mind
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What does ego mean?

Post by No_Mind »

I put this in CtOP section because the English language is a sort of path (channel of communication).

I cannot understand meaning of the word ego.

One website describes it as -
the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/ego
The context in which I am asking is partly Dhammic (though not exactly Buddha Dharma at all times but mixed with Hinduism, New Age, Eckhart Tolle, Sadhguru ... so on)

Example .. if I am feeling angry because something is not happening as I wanted it to .. the answer is (a typical answer picked at random from Google search results)
Your ego loves to control things, and to make things happen, to have an alleged secure environment. In trying to control this connection, all you do is wasting a lot of energy for nothing. This energy can be much better redirected into other areas in your life, as for example your own health and transformation, and acts of kindness with people around you. All you can do is trust, relax and be patient and surrender to this process.
The only thing you can “control” and work on in this process are your own activities, emotions and attitudes. So focus on your own stuff and your own lessons. Don’t resist or fight against anything that is happening to you. Accept it, look at it without judging it or identifying with it and let it pass through you. Tell yourself that these moments will pass and that this is only your ego struggling, not your true self. You will notice after a while that these moments get less and that you learn to love yourself and that you start to feel more and more unconditional love for yourself and everything around you.
My query is if I make up my mind to wake up at 5 AM and meditate, to refuse alcohol, to refuse meat, .. why is that not ego? I could as well say I give up my ego .. and I surrender and drink as much as I want ..

Even wanting to be liberated .. or taking few steps in that direction .. browsing DW, listening to Dhamma Talks .. is that not ego too?

Why is the ego always identified with something bad .. and not good .. why is Salvador Dali an egotist but not Mother Teresa (imperfect analogy but I am sort of at a loss for words) .. didn't both of them act from ego?

Can anyone explain the meaning of ego? I am unable to understand one of the most basic terms of Dhamma/Dharma.

Note to mods - I am unsure if this is the right place to put this question but ego or self with small s has a place in Dhammic progress too. Lounge is closed so I did not know where to place this question.

It seems that all of my current problems can be traced back to my ego (it appears I have a lot of it). What is it and how does one get rid of it?

:namaste:
Last edited by No_Mind on Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by Inedible »

Ego is a word from Latin, so you could start looking into it from that perspective.

It tends to bring with it me and mine. When it is challenged it grows stronger. When you fight it you feed it. But leaving it alone just makes it return to a dormant state, until the next time it feels threatened. This is why techniques tend to all be indirect.
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by No_Mind »

Inedible wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:19 pm Ego is a word from Latin, so you could start looking into it from that perspective.

It tends to bring with it me and mine. When it is challenged it grows stronger. When you fight it you feed it. But leaving it alone just makes it return to a dormant state, until the next time it feels threatened. This is why techniques tend to all be indirect.
But is not everything me and mine? If you decide to meditate is that not me and mine? Wasn't the Buddha deciding to leave the palace me and mine? Wasn't his determination to sit under Bodhi tree till he arrived at an answer not me and mine?

Why does only frustration, anger .. etc get associated with "lot of ego" and not the rest ..

If I want to double my income so that I can help poor kids .. why is that not ego? Unless I understand what is ego and why it is ego how can I tame it?

:namaste:
Last edited by No_Mind on Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by confusedlayman »

Me my mine i
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by No_Mind »

confusedlayman wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:24 pm Me my mine i
Let me strike you with my palm in the solar plexus ... you will double over and gasp "I can't breathe" .. so is breathing an act of ego?

:namaste:
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by confusedlayman »

No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:25 pm
confusedlayman wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:24 pm Me my mine i
Let me strike you with my palm in the solar plexus ... you will double over and gasp "I can't breathe" .. so is breathing an act of ego?

:namaste:
Sence of self
I may be slow learner but im at least learning...
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by SteRo »

Different meanings depending on context:
Ego or EGO may refer to:


1 Language
I (pronoun), the first-person singular nominative case personal pronoun in Modern English

2 Social sciences
Ego (Freudian), one of the three constructs in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche
Egoism, an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality
Egotism, the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself
Egocentrism, the inability to differentiate between self and other
Self-concept, a collection of beliefs about oneself that embodies the answer to "Who am I?"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by Coëmgenu »

No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:05 pm I put this in CtOP section because the English language is a sort of path (channel of communication).

I cannot understand meaning of the word ego.

One website describes it as -
the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/ego
The word "ego" has a lot of connection with "atma." Both "ego" and "atma" can be a reflexive pronoun meaning "I." Ego comes from Latin ("Te ego amo," is literally, "You, I love.")

So replace "ego" with "atma" in your definitions of ego and you'll have a sense of what it means.
No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:05 pmMy query is if I make up my mind to wake up at 5 AM and meditate, to refuse alcohol, to refuse meat, .. why is that not ego? I could as well say I give up my ego .. and I surrender and drink as much as I want ..

Even wanting to be liberated .. or taking few steps in that direction .. browsing DW, listening to Dhamma Talks .. is that not ego too?
Zenners like to talk like this. They sometimes say things like, "So long as I have aspiration to become a Buddha, I will never."
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by No_Mind »

SteRo wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:34 pm Different meanings depending on context:
Ego or EGO may refer to:


1 Language
I (pronoun), the first-person singular nominative case personal pronoun in Modern English

2 Social sciences
Ego (Freudian), one of the three constructs in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche
Egoism, an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality
Egotism, the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself
Egocentrism, the inability to differentiate between self and other
Self-concept, a collection of beliefs about oneself that embodies the answer to "Who am I?"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego
SteRo, all of you here are more intelligent than the ordinary person. Could you give me something more than a snippet from Wikipedia!

:namaste:
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by No_Mind »

Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:39 pm Zenners like to talk like this. They sometimes say things like, "So long as I have aspiration to become a Buddha, I will never."
I understand about atma .. but didn't the great man decide to become the Buddha? Why was that not an act of ego?

:namaste:
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by Inedible »

Yes, ego has to do the work. No one else will. Along the way you can create a spiritual ego who feels really good about creating positive karma and studying and meditating and being better than other people. You see a lot of those in places like here. It says in "A Course In Miracles" that the first rule of ego is seek but do not find.
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by Coëmgenu »

No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:41 pm
Coëmgenu wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:39 pmZenners like to talk like this. They sometimes say things like, "So long as I have aspiration to become a Buddha, I will never."
I understand about atma .. but didn't the great man decide to become the Buddha? Why was that not an act of ego?
I never said that those Zenners were right necessarily. It's like when a Madhyamaka says "There are no sentient beings and there are no Buddhas." They certainly said that, but are they right or wrong? They are basically cute phrases meant to teach you something else other than the context of the phrase. "There are no sentient beings and there are no Buddhas" is supposed to be a lesson in selflessness. Same as the "So long as I have aspiration [...]" quote. I think slogans like these have questionable merit.
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
SteRo
Posts: 3589
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:27 am
Location: अ धीः

Re: What does ego mean?

Post by SteRo »

No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:40 pm
SteRo wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:34 pm Different meanings depending on context:
Ego or EGO may refer to:


1 Language
I (pronoun), the first-person singular nominative case personal pronoun in Modern English

2 Social sciences
Ego (Freudian), one of the three constructs in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche
Egoism, an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality
Egotism, the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself
Egocentrism, the inability to differentiate between self and other
Self-concept, a collection of beliefs about oneself that embodies the answer to "Who am I?"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego
SteRo, all of you here are more intelligent than the ordinary person. Could you give me something more than a snippet from Wikipedia!

:namaste:
You have asked for the meaning and I provided some contexts on which the meaning depends. So?

What context would you like to refer to?
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by No_Mind »

SteRo wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:51 pm
No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:40 pm
SteRo wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:34 pm Different meanings depending on context:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego
SteRo, all of you here are more intelligent than the ordinary person. Could you give me something more than a snippet from Wikipedia!

:namaste:
You have asked for the meaning and I provided some contexts on which the meaning depends. So?

What context would you like to refer to?
Which ego is this ego? Just a random collection of phrases
"Your ego loves to control things, and to make things happen .. let go of control, let things happen naturally"
(it is not from Tao Te Ching but could as well be .. Taoism is quite similar reading)

Of course my ego likes to control things. I like to breathe, eat, walk, read. I like to control my environment. I like to control how others perceive me. I like to control or at least influence their opinion of me and so on ..

To let things happen naturally, which ego out of that snippet should disappear?

:namaste:
"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”― Albert Camus
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Re: What does ego mean?

Post by SteRo »

No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:15 pm
SteRo wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:51 pm
No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 4:40 pm

SteRo, all of you here are more intelligent than the ordinary person. Could you give me something more than a snippet from Wikipedia!

:namaste:
You have asked for the meaning and I provided some contexts on which the meaning depends. So?

What context would you like to refer to?
Which ego is this ego? Just a random collection of phrases
"Your ego loves to control things, and to make things happen .. let go of control, let things happen naturally"
(it is not from Tao Te Ching but could as well be .. Taoism is quite similar reading)
Don't know what context of ego the speaker of these words has been refering to. maybe it's not among those listed in wiki?
No_Mind wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:15 pm Of course my ego likes to control things. I like to breathe, eat, walk, read. I like to control my environment. I like to control how others perceive me. I like to control or at least influence their opinion of me and so on ..

To let things happen naturally, which ego out of that snippet should disappear?
Why should an ego out of that snippet disappear?


i can't see what other path you would like to compare with theravada. Please specify the other path.
Last edited by SteRo on Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Exhaling अ and inhaling धीः amounts to བྷྲཱུཾ་བི་ཤྭ་བི་ཤུད་དྷེ
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