Becoming More Mindful

3 Essential Traits To Defeat The Ego

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Defeating the fear-based consciousness is not for the faint of heart.  The world that we live in, the paradigms whose veracity we have already subconsciously accepted, blindly without question, the immersion of the fear-based consciousness in virtually every facet of our lives and the lives of those around us, makes the ability to transcend this mechanism that more challenging to overcome.  We are literally surrounded by it.  It is difficult to tread this path and not be called out as a lunatic by the so-called civilized society.  Like Jesus once said, hatred is a part of the path (John 15:18).  Although I have laid bare the enormity of the task ahead of you, it is by no means impossible and several have done.  Here I will detail three characteristics of the spiritual aspirant which are absolutely necessary in order to defeat the fear-based consciousness and attain your freedom from it.


1. Brutal self-honesty

Living the façade while enwrapped in the ego’s way of life, is unfortunately how most people get by from one day to the next; they must hold on to the somewhat comforting denial that at least countless millions share the same anxiety and agony as well.  At least I am not alone in my struggle, many will say to themselves.  Oftentimes, because the world operates fundamentally upon this duplicitous foundation, many traditions express the need for a spiritual teacher to help guide you to serve as that mirror of brutal self-honesty. There is no way you will progress on your spiritual path without an intense level of honesty with yourself. As most people are not honest with themselves, a teacher can oftentimes be very helpful in helping the student progress onwards as the true teacher’s primary concern is to help the student transcend its current level of consciousness, which it cannot do without informing the student, sometimes in a very blunt and direct manner, what it is doing or not doing. 

So the temptation is there, especially for many naïve aspirants, sometimes beginners on the Path, to shirk this decision for brutal self-honesty, and instead, to seek out and find their spiritual teacher, an external savior who will do the work for them.  They go to great lengths and travel to India, hop from one teacher to the next, in order to find their true teacher. Unfortunately, for every one true teacher in the world, there are perhaps a hundred or a thousand false ones. The stark reality is that there is a much greater demand for individuals who want the comfort of a lie to than for those who want the brutality of the truth, and, as a result, there is a burgeoning supply of false teachers who are looking to meet that demand. So and so died for our sins, and so, all you need to do is to verbally profess your belief in your true savior and you will be saved.  I am sure you have heard this blank-check ideology before, but there can be no real progress with this approach.  If there were progress with such an approach, then the teeming billions who believe in the said ideology would have been saved by the enormous levels of suffering brought about by the wars and rampant violence on this planet.  Using very basic levels of common sense, this approach is clearly not working to bring about the transformation of consciousness that I am advocating on this website.

The primary reason that we end up following a false teacher, is that we have not made the decision to be totally and completely, hence brutally, honest with ourselves.  So, to cut the matter short, I will say to you, that it is very unlikely you will meet a true teacher until you have made this decision first. We do not want to be honest with ourselves because we are afraid of what we might find if we are.  You cannot approach the path of fearlessness while being mired in fear.


2. Infinite capacity for compassion and forgiveness, especially towards yourself

If you have not found out already, the fear-based consciousness is very good at beating yourself up.  Once you start uncovering some of its layers, you will see how vengeful and spiteful it gets at you.  You will find that its self-defeating chatter has been relentlessly beating your up for years and years now, and it views your desire for spiritual freedom as an existential threat.  It is essentially a parasite that needs you to continually feed it, in order to survive, and the last thing it wants you to do is to disentangle yourself from its meshes.  Given how vehemently it wants to maintain its hold upon you, the tempatation is there to resent and demonize your ego.  But I am telling you now, that this is not the way .  You cannot defeat the ego by turning it into a dragon you have to slay.  You can only defeat the ego by looking at it with soft eyes, the eyes of compassion and forgiveness .

One of the principal teachings on this website is what you do to another, you do to yourself.  This includes your own ego.  Sending anger and resentment towards your ego only strengthens its resolve even further.  Furthermore, it is not really a projection of anger at your ego, but rather, a projection of anger at yourself.  I am angry at myself for being so weak that I gave my power away, you might say.  This resentment is only the other side of the ego, which delights in playing hero as well as villain, so long as it cripples your will even further. 

All anger and resentment essentially stem from fear. And you cannot conquer fear with even more fear, or anger with even more anger, or resentment with even more resentment, etc. The appropriate and, moreover, only response is to respond with compassion and forgiveness.  Be aware that the ego frequently masquarades as our true self and although it is a false identity that is separate from us, it will often use the term ‘I’ to describe itself as if it were really ourselves.  The mantra that I want to give to you in effectively employing forgiveness and compassion is: ‘It’s Okay’.  There are other articles that go in depth into this topic, but briefly, here is how a potential stream of consciousness dialogue might go:

Ego: Look how pathetic I am – I are so weak that I can’t even conquer my own ego. 

Me: Well, I am doing the best I can and it will take time.  So, it is okay if I am controlled by the ego, at least temporarily.

Ego: Well that is exactly the problem though.  I don’t want to suffer and by giving into the ego, I am giving into weakness.

Me:  There is nothing wrong in admitting that I am weak – certainly that is the case at the moment.  And, it is only right that I suffer, at least temporarily.  I have allowed myself to give my power to the fear-based consciousness, and it will take some time to be free of it.  I am sorry that I made this mistake and forgive myself for doing so.

Ego: I will never be free of my ego. 

Me: There is no such thing as forever.  Even if I take baby steps, it may take the rest of my life, but I will eventually be free of it.  It’s okay.

This, in a nutshell, is how you employ compassion and forgiveness. If you do this enough times and correctly, you will even begin to have compassion for the ego.  Nothing frustrates your ego more, and it will soon permanently lose its hold over you.


3. Patience and persistence

This process, freeing yourself from the ego, is bound to take a very, very, very long time.  The very reason that most of us are here on planet Earth is because we have in some way identified, at the very core of our being, with the fear-based consciousness of the human ego.  And, I might add, this process did not just happen in a few years or decades, but has been compounded over multiple lifetimes.  The roots, therefore, are very deep indeed.  And the peeling of the onion layers, the steady and methodical disintegration of the ego, takes a focused attention and awareness over a very long period of time, which can be truly exhausting, particularly in the early stages.

And because it is so taxing upon our faculties, the ego is counting on you to judge yourself for not being good enough as you aren’t making quick enough progress.  It is very easy, therefore, for it to beat yourself up for taking so much time. Even if you have momentary victories in the near-term, the root cause may still be buried deep underneath evermore layers and may still take much longer to unearth.  I liken the structure of the ego to a mature weed which has taken root in the soil.  Sometimes you might not be able to pull out the entire structure at once but may only cut at a part of the root itself.  The ego is very similar in its psychological structure.  The main root belief, ‘I am not good enough’, may be masked by several smaller root beliefs like, ‘I am not attractive enough’ or ‘I am not rich enough’.  Getting to the source root belief means first dealing with the smaller root beliefs first. In regards to timeframe, there is no such hard and fast rule as each person’s situation is unique.  But for a general guideline, the more willing a person is to surrender a particular self-defeating belief or egoic identity, the greater progress can be made in any given amount of time.  This complete surrender can happen in as quick as 6 months, which is truly rare, but is more likely to take considerably longer, like 3-5 years at a minimum.  I want to further add that invoking a higher power’s help will tremendously speed up this process, and I highly recommend doing so.

Another component, which goes hand-in-hand with patience, is persistence.  The ego can only operate in the shadows.  Like a cockroach in the night, it scampers away at the light of your awareness.  It is also highly skilled in distracting you in multifarious ways, to make other less-important matters a priority over your spiritual growth.  Persistence is what keeps you coming back, even though you are tired of doing the difficult work of healing yourself and dis-identifying with the ego.  It will work again and again upon your resources and try to convince you that a particular project for your job, a procrastinated household chore, or a new television show or movie, is more important.  The greater your desire to free yourself from this parasitic agency, the greater your capacity for persistence at.

In closing, brutal self-honesty, a tremendous capacity for compassion and forgiveness, and patience along with persistence, are absolutely essential traits, without which, conquering the human ego for good, is virtually impossible.  There are other traits that are needed while traversing the Path, but without the three mentioned above, you cannot make any meaningful or substantive progress.