Recorded at Naropa University in 1974, Ram Dass joins Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, John Baker, Jim Green and Duncan Campbell for a conversation around the notion of ego and personal identification.
In this panel discussion, the group explores the concepts of ego in both Western psychology and Eastern traditions. Exploring what the notion of ego really is, and isn’t.
The Spectrum of Ego (Opening) – Ram Dass discusses differences in which the Western psychiatric tradition and the religious and psychological traditions of the East approach the notion of ego and personal identification. He shares his experience working as a Developmental Psychologist and his concerns with theories of the developing ego at that time.
“It seemed at that time that the ego was a very real, solid and necessary part of the healthy functioning of an organism. When I started to work with psychedelics, I started to experience something that didn’t fit into my theoretical structure of ego. I began to think maybe we need to go the other way now; that we are going to unwind the ego or get out from under it.” – Ram Dass
Foundations of Ego (16:20) – The panel discusses the Western model of ego as vehicles to our own personality and how many Eastern religious traditions are talking about the same concepts, despite their surface differences. They discuss the general misunderstandings about the ego in both traditions. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche gives perspective on the ego from the Buddhist tradition.
“I think one of the greatest developments of the Western world has discovered is the Law of Relativity. I would say, as soon as the Law of Relativity was born in this world, the Buddha mind began to work. Before that, people never thought of comparing. People just presumed, like we presumed ego.” – Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
The Remainder (30:15) – If our egoic lives are simply games, what is left when we give them up? The panel explores what is beyond the ego.
“There is another version of survival, other than trying to survive with the basic necessity of the ego. That, to my mind, is enlightenment.” – Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Depths of Despair (43:15) – Almost everyone is afraid to die, and likewise are afraid to go beyond the world of ego. The panel discusses the depth of despair required to step out of ego and into an unknown state of being.
In the Office or in the Ashram (49:00) – The panel discusses the models of Eastern traditions and Western psychology and the roles that the healer and patient play. They talk about how we can create a space which allows communication from a place of equality.
For more from wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Ram Dass, check out this episode of Here and Now.
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