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“Ego implies unawareness.
Awareness and ego cannot
–Eckhart Tolle

A few minutes ago, I saw the above quote in a post on Eckhart Tolle’s Facebook account on my feed. I read it, thought about it and could not get beyond the sense of duality in it. To me, it creates an either/or that cannot possibly be real in a universe in which there is no separation.

In my normal day-to-day life, I freely confess to living more from an ego perspective than from an awareness perspective. As I’ve described elsewhere, I have an engineer’s mind and, as such, I am all about fiddling about in the murky depths of detail. During much of my tech career, I was deeply involved in troubleshooting, testing and bug reporting. Any of you Law of Attraction peeps will well know that if you look for trouble, you’re going to find it.

Such matters of looking for trouble and digging through the mire are essentially the realm of ego. Ego is the subconscious protector. It is the worry-wort. It is the one that avoids change because it thinks that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. It is the maintainer of our habits, good and bad. Ego is concerned with all things past and future.

I do agree with Eckhart that awareness can mitigate the efforts of ego, but ego never gets destroyed or somehow made nonexistent. Ego always exists, ready to step forth and be our protector the instant we stop being fully present in the moment and allow our mind to ruminate on past or future. Any time we focus on past or future, we are in the realm of ego. Period, full stop. That moment during meditation when my stomach grumbles and I ponder what to have for lunch, I am back in Ego.

By now, some of you may be throwing stuff at the screen and yelling that Eckhart, of course, simply meant that awareness in the sense of being fully present in the moment means that ego cannot be engaged. In this specific sense, I would agree. That said, the quote was clear in that awareness and ego cannot coexist. Frankly, I think that’s nonsense. One does not cease to exist just because the other is in effect. In control or not, yes; existing or not, no.

In the case of ego vs awareness, it is my sincere opinion that we can experience mental states for which one or the other are chiefly being expressed. The meanings here, however, are very narrow. Awareness in this particular usage means that we have cultivated and activated the Observer, as I like to call it. This is a form of self-awareness that enables us to witness or observe our thoughts as they come and go to proactively choose how to respond to situations and events as they occur. This awareness of the Observer is not being fully present in the moment.  I think there is a flow state beyond the Observer where we’re beyond anything other than Being and Experiencing. It is the realm of No-Mind. I have seldom experienced this flow state, but, to me, it assuredly exists.

Communicating these ideas can be difficult. If you have any thoughts on what I’ve shared here, please comment and let me know. I’d be delighted to carry on a discussion.

Much love,


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