Finding Happiness through the duality of the Ego: Understanding the egoful and egoless state of mind
Updated: Jun 6, 2019
“Happiness exists beyond the Ego. We can begin our search into the mystery of happiness by recognising that the real pursuit of happiness is by its nature opposed to the gratification of sensual appetites.’’ ~Dr Swami Gitananda
In these words of Swami Gitananda I clearly identify that in order to recognise happiness you firstly need to experience the Ego. In order to experience happiness as an opposition to the satisfaction and indulgence of the senses it is essential to firstly experience and understand – I would better say “practice” – the Ego in order to recognise its opposite components.
Osho explained that before you can lose your Ego, you must first attain it: “the ego must come to a peak, it must be strong, it must have attained an integrity – only then can you dissolve it. A weak ego cannot be dissolved.” ~Osho
Coming to my own experience, and adding my personal contribution to those of Swami Gitananda and Osho, I would state that in order to reach happiness you may first touch both poles of your Ego – the egoful and the egoless side of your personality, in order to find the center of your existence.
The behavior of the Ego can be expressed through two different extremities – the egoful and the egoless, that can be characterized as a binary system formed by these two oppositions. In addition, the Ego might jump from one extremity to the other while shifting roles until one reaches its center, or a number of ego states and levels between the two can be triggered and expressed in one’s endeavor in order to meet their ultimate goal or arrive at their center.
Just to help readers understand my position more clearly I give a short description of how I experienced the egoful and egoless poles of my Ego in the past years:
Experiencing an egoful self…
My performance and contribution in the arts during a 10 year career in the art world has brought much success, awards and tremendous opportunities in my life. I have to admit that 100% of my goals have been accomplished, and international recognition, publicity and appreciation came very easily in my way. People around the world recognize me when I attend or participate in different events abroad, and even if I am always withdrawn from such occasions, I often experience a deep appreciation, which is quite rewarding. Very often established and young artists approach me with the wish to be part of my initiations and I regularly receive emails from individuals and institutions around the world expressing admiration for my work, and interest to collaborate and be part of my projects. In addition academics have written and published articles about my work and my own writings have been published for academic and educational purposes, reaching the libraries of prominent institutions.
All these experiences and achievements never made me truly happy. My Ego used to set new goals in the next moment and when I was reaching these goals this was never enough, it was never something that could made me truly happy…
Experiencing an egoless self…
In previous years and after my decision to conclude big artistic projects and collaborations I found myself quite neutral and indifferent towards anything I achieved or accomplished in the past. I even thought of withdrawing myself from the arts and the art world and dedicating myself in my spiritual path and work properly in order to dissolve my Ego. I didn't understand at that time that I have reached the other side of the Ego where. I didn’t want any of my accomplishments to be seen as the “measurements” of who I am deep within. I felt the need to be seen and loved for who I am, and not for the accomplishments and achievements I gained in my life. Therefore I have chosen to be quiet and unseen, keeping also the things that could benefit others within.
During the egoful period I was looking for a kind of recognition, acceptance and admiration and I always had the urge to accomplish my goals because I thought that through these actions I would become someone important. What I was actually doing was unconsciously searching for my parents’ attention and reward, to gain identification within my family and consequently within the world, filling in that way the gaps that my parents left unfilled when I was a child. Although my achievements did not fill any gap but brought more unhappiness and tiredness instead. And after a period of excessive tension and exhaustion I felt empty and apathetic towards any goal, any accomplishment…choosing to stay in an egoless state for some time.
Therefore I've learnt that neither being egoful nor egoless is my natural state. None of them made me happy.
Experiencing real happiness…
Something within me was urging to come out...I was keeping it inside till it needed to burst out, showing itself. Then I realised that this was my soul's purpose expressed through my pure, authentic Self.
Real happiness started to reach me when I realized that I am not my egoful or egoless actions, I am not my success and I am not what others think of me. When I started loving myself as I am, something has shifted within me. When I let go of personal desires and goals and when I let go of my controlling issues and embraced the possibility of failure something relaxed within me. Now I know that pure joy exist within me and I know I can find it at any moment, I no more opt to “build” situations in order to “get into” happiness. Happiness can only be found within.
I made a distinction between accomplishments and happiness by “sifting” my egoful and egoless actions in the same pot: In all these experiences of egoful and egoless actions there were moments of inspiration, moments that I felt connected to my inner Self and experienced creativity in a flow, moments that I found myself becoming part of the whole while loosing its perception as a separate entity, moments where my existence was entering a space of another dimension where thoughts and emotions were absent and only love and light was enriching the space that was surrounding myself and others. All these moments of true happiness, joy and bliss are activated when I am in this process of pure creation not for the sake of recognition, not for accomplishing another personal goal but for the sake of CREATION. In this momentum real happiness occurs and it’s not about me, it doesn’t reach only me as a separate entity in a world of separateness, but it surrounds and unifies everything and all. Within the sphere of Oneness I can experience the truth, and by returning back to the world of separateness I realize what true happiness is. By examining my goals at this stage, when being more or less closer to the center, my wish is to bring change and transformation to oneself for the benefit of all, and to guide others and enlighten their path with my own example, by creating the ideal ground and proper occasions for these to happen, as a way to reach the true, authentic Self, the Source itself.
By accomplishing the goals of my Ego and getting to know my egoful and egoless self, I am now able to distinguish suffering from happiness experienced in my life, cultivating discernment and awareness. Through the endeavor of accomplishing my personal goals, I found happiness in the process of becoming and in the process of finding my true Self through my own distress. After experiencing suffering I become aware of the Ego and by becoming aware of the Ego I learn to lean towards my Soul in order to reach real happiness, pure joy, true awareness.
To conclude, by unraveling the twofold egoful and the egoless state of mind, can teach us a lot about ourselves. By experiencing these two poles of extremities of our egoful and egoless actions one may find its center, the source of our happiness, a neutral position where happiness is not formed through binaries and bipolar experiences but through an inner state of contentment and bliss, attained and maintained through a disciplined life and an equanimous mind.
Always remember that everything you seek is within your Self!
Heart to Heart,
Written in 2016 & revised on 1 February 2019
Photography by Skevi Laou
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