Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Ego Actor

In the beginning, which is really no beginning. . . the will wants to know itself and consciousness is awakened and with the awakening of consciousness the will is split in two. The one will, whole and complete in itself, is now at once actor and observer. Conflict is inevitable, for the actor now wants to be free from limitations under which he has been obliged to put himself in his desire for consciousness. He has in one sense been enabled to see, but at the same time there is something which he, as observer cannot see.

D.T. Suzuki, the most respected 20th century expert on Far Eastern philosophy, was a prolific translator of Chinese, Sanskrit, and Japanese literature. He spent years teaching Buddhist philosophy at Otani University in Japan, and traveled extensively teaching and lecturing at Western universities. He was instrumental in helping Westerners understand Zen, although the complete understanding Zen can only be experienced not expressed.

Suzuki's thoughts about the separation of the conscious mind does ring a bell of knowing in our psyche. The ego is that portion of the conscious mind that rises to meet the reality of our physical existence. During our lifetime our actor, the ego, will change several times in order to interpret as well as organize the events we experience. The conscious mind is constantly reorganizing our awareness so we can handle various perceptions and choices. In physical life the soul or the inner self is clothed in chemicals, and we used those ingredients to to form an image of the physical self. That image is a composite of our beliefs.

The ego moves through time in a normal cycle of life and death. There is a synchronized flow to this cycle so we never seem to lose our orientation in our reality. When the nornal cycle is interupted, conflict is inevitable. We experience that conflict in various ways. The ego as well as the body is forced to respond in the best way it can, but the results can life-changing. When we begin to understand the nature of the conscious mind, we can appreciate the fact that we are the observer as well as the observed. We see through the ego, but there is a portion of the conscious mind that sees without the assistance of an ego.

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