ego is a habit, not a thing

November 16, 2010

In Buddhism there is a great respect for the power of self-centeredness to co-opt even the most magnanimous or sublime experience for its own self-aggrandizement.

The idea of ego is not so much a thing as a habit of using whatever experience arises to solidify and prop up our feeling of a solid and separate identity.

It is literally a form of ingesting experience to fatten our own self-absorption.

– Judy Lief

4 Responses to “ego is a habit, not a thing”


  1. This helps me a lot to be able to think of ego as a habit. The idea that it doesn’t exist as an entity then makes perfect sense.

    • Scott Says:

      That quote meant a LOT to me, too. It just goes to show you how insidious the ego is, grasping, clinging, fighting, doing ANYTHING, forcing you to pay ANY price just so you believe and treat it as it was a real, solid, THING, independent of the rest of the world. It’s a HUGE lie, obviously, but the whole time we’re falling prey to the lie and doing all the things we wish we didn’t have to do and needlessly suffering and causing others to suffer just to continue this facade, IF we even acknowledge the ego is something we need to control, it tricks us into thinking it’s an OBJECT to overcome!

      When in reality it’s nothing more than a habit. Sure, it’s the hardest habit to break there ever can or will be. Getting off drugs, booze, cigarettes are all pieces of cake compared to breaking free of ego. But, the only chance we’ll ever have of realizing ANY success is first acknowledging that the monster ego that drives us is nothing other than a bad habit, and really can be dropped as such. It just takes letting go.


  2. This is a big turning point for me. I was thinking of ego as a necessary evil, one that can be used as a tool but should never be used as a guide. That was when I still thought of ego as a thing, a part of me I can never get rid of, can only tame. But if I think of ego as a bad habit, I suddenly feel so much more confident in my ability to drop that habit or make great strides toward diminishing that habit. Sure, it’s the work of a lifetime, but just this simple shift in conceptualizing ego has already taken away some of its power. Thank you.


  3. […] Also, I remembered that in my favourite of all models for how the world works, which is turning out to be a Tibetan Buddhist model (which does not, so far as I can tell, conflict at all with the teachings of The Course), I don’t exist.  The ego is a construct or, as one of my favourite bloggers recently pointed out, nothing more than a bad habit. […]


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