You will feel like an onion: skin after skin, subterfuge after subterfuge, is pulled off to find no kernel at the center. Which is the whole point: to find out that the ego is indeed a fake—a wall of defense around a wall of defense … around nothing. You can’t even want to get rid of it, nor yet want to want to. Understanding this, you will see that the ego is exactly what it pretends it isn’t. Far from being the free center of personality, it is an automatic mechanism implanted since childhood by social authority, with—perhaps—a touch of heredity thrown in. This may give you the temporary feeling of being a zombie or a puppet dancing irresponsibly on strings that lead away to unknown forces. At this point, the ego may reassert itself with the insidious “I-can’t-help-myself” play in which the ego splits itself in two and pretends that it is its own victim. “See, I’m only a bundle of conditioned reflexes, so you mustn’t get angry with me for acting just as I feel.” (To which the answer could be, “Well, we’re just zombies too, so you shouldn’t complain if we get angry.”) But who is it that mustn’t get angry or shouldn’t complain, as if there were still some choice in the matter? The ego is still surviving as the “I” which must passively endure the automatic behavior of “myself” and others—again, as if there were some choice which the witnessing self can make between putting up with things and attacking them violently. What has happened is that the frustrated ego has withdrawn into its last stronghold of independence, retaining its identity as a mere watcher, or sufferer, of all that goes on. Here it pities itself or consoles itself as a puppet of fate. But if this is seen as yet another subterfuge, we are close to the final showdown. A line of separation is now drawn between everything that happens to me, including my own feelings, on the one side, and on the other, I myself as the conscious witness. Isn’t it easy to see that this line is imaginary, and that it, and the witness behind it, are the same old faking process automatically learned in childhood? The same old cleft between the knower and the known? The same old split between the organism/environment and the organism’s feedback, or self-conscious mechanism?

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A quote saved on Dec. 30, 2015.


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