Eckart Tolle, a spiritual writer and teacher, delivers the same message as that of many other spiritual teachers and mystics through the ages, and I will likely cite him frequently in these posts because his wisdom is so relevant to—and much needed in—our world today. His basic message is that almost all of us have forgotten our true nature, which is pure awareness or consciousness and that consciousness, both collectively and individually, creates form. When we are able to inhabit a state of pure awareness (or consciousness), which is our true nature, we feel—and truly know—our connection to the entirety of creation, both natural and man-made. However, most of us identify with the form in our lives, and when we identify with form we are in our egoic state, and the ego believes in separateness and “otherness.”
Form includes all physical things in our world that we identify with such as our home, car, furnishings, clothes, collectibles, etc. Form, however, also includes ideas and concepts that we identify with and belong to such as our race, nationality, education, profession, sports teams, our sex/gender, to name a few. If someone were to ask me who I am, I could rattle off a list of descriptors: I am a white, middle-aged, balding male who grew up and currently lives in the Midwest and who owns a home and a car and have several college degrees. Each one of the descriptors, however, has the potential to create separation of me from others. Thus, someone who is not Caucasian, as an example, is “other” from my egoic mind. Similarly, I might have a tendency to associate with others who are well educated because it would strengthen my sense of self from my ego’s perspective. None of the descriptors of me that I used above convenes my true essence from a consciousness perspective, however, and all are impermanent.
Form by its very nature cannot last nor stay the same. As a stark example, every physical body eventually dies, and we leave behind money and possessions that we have accumulated during our lifetimes. As a less extreme example, many of us identify with sports teams. When our team wins a big game or a championship, we are ecstatic, but lurking in the background is the knowledge that at some point in future, this same team will once again likely revert to being only average or worse.
Since ego is identified with form, it knows that it has a temporary, fragile existence. Thus, ego must continually work at strengthening itself by reinforcing “otherness,” even if in the slightest way for a short period of time. One way that it can temporarily bolster itself is to insist that it is right about something—a disputed fact, method, memory, principle. Being right temporarily allows our ego to be “special” in someway, and the ego on the other side of the dispute then becomes “un-special.” If you are in a relationship and your egoic goal is to continually be the “special,” thus making your partner “un-special,” that seems a no-win proposition for both parties. In that case your ego may have temporarily won a battle, but it will surely lose the war. And it seems insane even to talk about a relationship using a war metaphor. Don’t let your relationship be a war, and if you struggle how to do that, seek professional help.