If I Cannot, I Must – Lessons in Ego Transcendence


by guest author Eric Balaster, Pure Nootropics

When I attended a Vipassana meditation retreat, I learned a lot about myself through the painful experiences that ensued over ten full days. During and after the retreat, I wondered when some type of enlightenment might occur, but it obviously never came. 

Yet, after the retreat, I continued to learn so much. I would go through life in a modern U.S. City and see every day things that teach me through the experiences at the Vipassana retreat.  

Strangely, one of the most important lessons has come through the movie “Revolver”. Perhaps it is my generation’s fate to learn through such popular culture. However, this Guy Ritchie film proved one of the most insightful for me to eradicate ego through my actions as well as meditative practice.

The film and a subsequent article that I read brought home how the ego invests itself in external objects or ideas, which leads to physical and psychological torment. Because the ego invests in money often, the main character’s egoic transcendence comes through charitable giving in his perceived enemy’s name. 

Through this, I have learned to begin acting in opposition to almost every major inclination in order to constantly reduce my own ego. When someone asks for money and I do not want to give, I must give. In times where alms build my ego as a “charitable” individual, I must not give. If I cannot, I must.

Here are some other examples of opportunities to reduce ego in daily life:

Give credit to others – many of the achievements we are most proud of are used to bolster our own ego. In moments when you feel like sharing a profound achievement, try giving credit to someone else; perhaps a teacher or mentor who helped you.

Embrace embarrassment – in situations where you feel embarrassed, laugh along and even make fun of yourself. Every time you embrace colleagues and friends laughing at you, the further the process of reducing your ego.

Seek uncomfortable social interactions – no matter the sex or age, there may be specific social interactions that provide anxiety or fear. The discomfort in certain social interactions can reduce your self-image and ego.

Every compulsion, desire, and aversion in daily life is the result of your own ego’s control over your mind. By consciously choosing to do what makes you uncomfortable, one can slowly peel the layers of ego and transcend the physical and psychological torment of attachment. 

About Eric Balaster

Eric Balaster has been using meditation and yoga as a way of improving his health, achieving his goals, and optimizing his brain. Obsessed with the biochemical and psychological aspects of the brain, Balaster co-founded a nootropics company called Pure Nootropics. He is currently in Austin, Texas exploring life as an entrepreneur and reducing ego one small step at a time.

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