This site specifically addresses ego dynamics and digging down into why it (“you”) behaves as it does. By understanding the underlying motivations, beyond the generally accepted Freudian unconscious/subconscious drives, there is a chance you may reach a clear “spiritual” center (for lack of a better descriptor). I have experienced such a “center,” but only through momentary glimpses that were immediately subsumed and incorporated into egocentric interpretations (as is usually the case).
In addition, it is my belief that you will not engage that center through pithy platitudes or repetitively lip-servicing the scripts and moral “truths” of antiquity (interpreted by other egos millions and millions of time over). Ego-self easily incorporates ALL that within its own grandiose schemes and this is why most modern spiritual masters often appear the most egotistically afflicted (downright sociopathic actually, but that stands to reason).
In addition, you probably won’t get there through meditative spiritual practices because of the subconscious aspirations and goals that you have for your ‘self’ that are not consciously accessible (even your "spirituality" is steeped in desired outcomes and goals). Any attempt to transcend egocentricity will naturally bend itself and conform to your deep-seated goals without your conscious intent. There are a whole sheitload of egocentric “transcenders” out there and the internet is a breeding ground for the “egocentrically enlightened.”
This type of ego exploration is not well-suited for the polite company of spiritual suburbanites seeking enlightenment through Eckart Tolle's next best seller. Lotsa good stuff said by these folks, but it's all been said before (so has it made any difference to "you"?).
Although, we can’t deny it is ego observing itself, so it’s often best to have a partner. It’s harder to deny your own ego dynamics when someone you trust is pointing it out. This level of understanding demands excruciating honesty and is dreadfully uncomfortable, even downright painful to egocentricity.
It simply means understanding why you do the things you do by understanding that every answer you come up with only demands you go deeper which may include more PAIN (unfortunately, seeking to experience invulnerability is initially wrought with experiences of intense vulnerability). You will know that you’re getting closer simply by the level of resistance you experience to understanding.
The world you experience is exquisitely formulated to deny understanding through normalizing (and ‘comfortizing’) what we refer to as “rational” complexity. Egocentricity worships the chaos of complexity simply by calling it “logic” but it is entirely contingent on sense data.
Yet, be aware that fear will dog your every step, because one thing is certain: NO one, in this experience of "existing," believes he is living authentically.
Everyone recognizes, in some way and on some level, that they are living a lie. In fact, there are many out there who have come to the realization that it’s ALL a lie. But, as many ancient wise-guys have claimed, fear would be very useful if it wasn’t so damn frightening.
But how many really want to dig this deep? Who really wants to face the potential fact that everything they do, everything they think and feel, is nothing but a baseless fabrication? The egocentric mind is void of any Truth whatsoever, by nature of its egocentricity.
The egocentric fear is that by understanding what is or is NOT a lie one must then sacrifice or cut certain parts free. That one must cease from useless actions. This smacks of SACRIFICE and sacrifice only reinforces the experience of deprivation (most likely also a lie). This is an erroneous understanding if you start from the premise that it is ALL a fabrication and, hence, it matters not what you do, but only that you understand WHY.
In this way one can learn to play infinitely in the finite fabrications of “life” and not be bound to necessity, but enriched through free-will (besides, who can ever experience free-will without understanding embodied-ego dynamics?). It terminates the experience that there are things you NEED to do, in opposition to what you WANT to do, as one choice is as insignificant or significant as the other.
But your childhood moral indoctrination impedes this exploration because you believe your values matter. And so, the ego-self chronically perseverates over change and will desperately seek a way to achieve a sense of satisfaction within the nausea of its fabricated experiences. But it will not look too closely for it fears what it might see and merely looks at what it what was taught to look at. Freud called this “sublimation” and believed it necessary to sublimate primitive drives into socially acceptable channels as a means of maintain social cohesion. Unfortunately, this has the reverse affect of stifling any super-conscious motivations NOT contingent on egocentric identities.
As a result, egos are quite comfy in their chosen “lifestyles,” while at the same time, ferociously sickened by that comfort.
Nevertheless, the ego will delude itself through socially conditioned values and morality, which aid in maintaining a framework that holds NO content, but is clearly quite strong in the weight of its vacuous and superficial presence. Like a rugged and reinforced foundation that holds up absolutely NOTHING. This is how egos live and it’s what they come to expect.
It is not the depth of content the ego seeks, but an ever more elaborate framework for which to drape around itself as a means of self-actualizing it existence as “real.”
It collects and controls to assist in reinforcing this foundation. It will accumulate people within specific parameters and in all types of combinations and relationships. It will construct communities, towns, societies marriages, families, etc, etc, not for the depth that could be engaged in these relationships but for which to assert itself in the world.
And then it will naturally complain of the failure inherent in relying on such meaningless surface engagements.
Yet, deep down “you” cannot deny the exhaustion experienced through the failure of the props to provide fulfillment. Egocentricity will inevitably blame the props, while denying that what it propped up to actualize itself can only diminish it. Hence, it may seek out other props, different people, new experiences, accumulate more things. But eventually even that will fail to fulfill.
But NEVER will it look deeply into its own dynamics and, if it does, the pain of what it sees will only drive it back into its experience of a "world" and what the world provides for its self-actualizing and meaningless sustenance.
“I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.” (The Matrix)
It will become fanatically involved in a “cause” and will take up “spiritual practices,” and burn through numerous "purposes," all the while, deluding itself that it is consciously “evolving.” Egocentricity has no capacity to consciously evolve. It can only turn to the past as the means of knowing itself as a fabricated concept and all future concepts it tacks on are only the residue of that past experience.
For the ego-self, there is simply "nothing new under the sun."
There is no reason to change what you do. No reason to leave your marriage or to stay. No reason to sell your house and move to Big Sur or not to. There is no reason to take up a spiritual practice or zealously adhere to some religio-spiritual ideology that will only further aggrandize your egocentricity (egos are always looking for new and wonderful things to believe). Although you certainly can have a good time doing that. There is no reason to quit your job and become an organic gardener, but that could be an exciting experience for a little while. No reason to read Eckart Tolle or attend the new age seminar. However, there’s no reason NOT to do those things either.
Go ahead and do whatever you wish. But, sometimes, you may have to do some things that you fear doing just to see how it feels so that you can use that fear as a starting point. But don’t sweat it. Eventually it all comes up as it needs to, sooner or later (there is an odd certainty to your always getting what you need when you need it no matter how fooked up it may seem in the moment).
Don’t be shy. It’s only “you.” Swim in the depths of your egocentricity and learn what it is. Discover the reasons for your motivations and closely observe your fears. You will know you are onto something big by the intensity of your discomfort. Take that as a positive and don’t struggle too hard to run away from your mind.
Yet, one day all this might be over (before the reaper appears!). One day there may no longer be anything left to learn. Might be a load of “lifetimes” before that happens. Nevertheless, until then…
…an unexamined ego is not worth living.
Artwork by Anton Semenov - "Auschwitz"