I have been working on my fitness level lately because I wanted to see how fast I could run a mile. Today I ran a 5K race to get a measure for how fit I am. I set as my goal to run under 8 minutes per mile and I was successful at 7:47 per mile. The course was hilly and ended with the last ¼ mile up to the finish line and wow did that hurt to push through that. Now I remember why I had stop running races because they hurt too much. The good news was the race was small and the people in my age range were slow so I got to win my age division. As you might guess, that made the hurting for 24 minutes feel better.
Next race I am going to run easier and not push as hard so it will be more fun. My ego got the best of me and thus the pain. Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it? Following the needs of the ego too often ends up in pain. If I would have cruised more and enjoyed my pace then the suffering would pretty much go away. Taking it easy and enjoying what I am doing has it benefits especially in comparison to letting the ego drive me to suffering.
The ego versus doing it in the flow of what feels right is a battle you and I have fought. The ego is the part of you that wants to look good, make an impressive showing, be in control, etc. The ego has benefits because it can be a driving force that makes you go for more in life. Ego is neither good or bad, it is just a part of you that you need to be aware to make sure your motives are for the best reasons. When you are driven to be successful because you have a purpose; are determined to realize your fullest potential; or to make a positive difference in the world then ego is often in a minor role. When your goal is to be the best; to impress the world; or to gain power over others, then the ego may be more dominant. Again the ego is not good or bad but possibly more dominant in some of these situations.
If the ego does run you and your decisions most likely it will get you in trouble. I think immediately of the people running Enron as an example of egos trying to prove they are the best and above the rules and how much that cause suffering to all those they mislead. Politicians too often are driven by the need for approval so their egos are too tied to how they look. That is so often the reason they disappoint those that had believe in them. You and I too have done things that were driven by our egos and hopeful they didn’t cause too much suffering to those around us.
If you are concerned about inner peace and world peace then the ego needs to be paid attention to. A strong ego will make inner peace difficult. All wars are cause by the egos of those that start them. War is ego gone mad.