My thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes,
attitude, character, personality, roles, desires, needs, and beliefs
may have changed considerably over the years, but the sense of "I"
What I find instead are various patterns of thinking that condition how I decide and act.
And when this is challenged in some way, I may try to defend and reinforce this constructed sense of identity.
In each case, past experiences and conditioning create beliefs, attitudes, needs, desires, and aversions.
These become the lens through which I see my world, affecting how I interpret my experience, the thoughts that arise in my mind, and a whole set of stories about what to say or do, in order to get what I think will make me feel better.
However, the "I" that is interpreting
and thinking is the same "I" that is always there. But its attention
has become engrossed in some or other "egoic" pattern of thinking,
leading to correspondingly egocentric decisions and actions.
For this a verb is a more appropriate
part of speech. I am "ego-ing".
But seeing ego as a mental process, a
system of thinking that I get caught in, suggests that I need to
step out of that mode of thinking - to look at the world through a
different lens, one less tainted by fear, insecurity and attachment.
When I notice myself caught up in egoic thinking, rather than berating myself (or my imagined ego), I can notice what is going on and step back from it. This doesn't mean I have eliminated that way of thinking. It will surely return. And when it does, I can choose to step out of it again.
Transcending the ego thus becomes an ongoing practice rather than a far-off goal.