We hear a lot about reducing ego in Buddhist teachings. But we often don’t know how to go about this. Here Rinpoche gives practical advice on how to go reducing ego. We can work on reducing ego directly or indirectly.
Rinpoche first talks about the five negative emotions. It helps to use a solid example. He uses a physical demonstration to teach how things are connected. We can use our five fingers to remind us of the five negative emotions, or five poisons. These are:
- Anger or hatred
- Attachment or desire
- Ignorance or not seeing
Rinpoche gives one example based upon one emotion. He uses anger. Anger is an emotion. Where does this thought arise? It arises based on judgment. We can look at our anger and experience it strongly. What produces the continuous experience of this emotions? Does it come from something outside?
Arm as Example
The five emotions come along with judgment and constant comparison. Rinpoche uses the forearm connecting to the hand to show how this works. Again, we must investigate.
We can look at emotions and experience them. But we need to ask who is experiencing. What accompanies them? What produces the continuous experience of these emotions? Does it come from something outside? Who is judging? I am judging! It is the ego.
The ego is represented by the shoulder. It is not seeing the ego clearly that causes the trouble. We never ask the question –who is this I? Ignorance helps us not to see this.
Rinpoche explains that we can work on reducing the individual emotions. Working on the emotions reduces ego-clinging in a slow, indirect way. Working on the judging/comparing mind also is a way of reducing ego. The most direct way is to examine the ego directly. But this is the most difficult as well. You need to learn to meditate and reflect in this way.