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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about some of the downsides and challenges with ego work.

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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about some of the downsides and challenges with ego work. #ego

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    • December 15, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    I found the Eight Verses of Training the Mind incredibly useful on ego. Here are the four verses I use – the one students found very hard was the one about taking defeat upon ourselves, because I guess we all start by thinking winning is vital. I take it to mean what you were talking about, that we are not trying to win, that if they want to think they have won, that’s their shit. I suspect you know these already, but I enjoyed going back to them after I had listened to this podcast. They are quite rich….

    In my every action, I will watch my mind,
    And the moment destructive emotions arise,
    I will confront them strongly and avert them,
    Since they will hurt both me and others.

    Whenever I see ill-natured people,
    Or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering,
    I will cherish them as something rare,
    As though I’d found a priceless treasure.

    Whenever someone out of envy
    Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,
    I will take defeat upon myself,
    And give the victory to others.

    Even when someone I have helped,
    Or in whom I have placed great hopes
    Mistreats me very unjustly,
    I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher.

    • December 15, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Great topic. BIG topic. I have benefited from Tibetan Buddhism and ego as the enemy; more esoteric work of Theun Mares, and in particular his concept of intelligent co-operation, what it takes to work with someone else on something important; and Spiral Dynamics. Do you two find SD framework helps makes sense of the role of ego?

  • Xing
    • Xing
    • May 12, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    Great podcast! I just wanted to point out that there might have been a bit of confusion of terms, as the word ego was used instead of the word agency. Further, I am sticking with your vocab.
    And an intuitive idea I have. It relates to the end of the podcast, where Joel was going on about ego being involved in meaningful work and the sense of invincibility that comes with it. I think the sense of vulnerability that comes with the “ego” being idle can be meaningful as well, not as pleasurable, but meaningful. I figured this happened to me when I had made a mistake that indicated a hole in my judgment. As the internal system is invalidated, one needs to pick up information from the environment in those then and because the situation is alien and unknown, it’s logical that any information can be relevant: so yes, one ends up not discriminating much between someone imparting wisdom and another just being an idiot. Only when the solution is found, one is like, cool, now I can get rid of these irrelevant notes, keep the relevant ones, and step back on the narrow but more correct track. Some correct but too complex and therefore less useful information gets discarded as well. I would say there are phases: I am “right” and my systems are working, and then I am “wrong” – and wide-eyed shocked I am sitting there frantically collecting every criticism that can be relevant to me.
    PS Antonia sort of touched on my point mentioning healing work.

  • 27yo female infj
    • 27yo female infj
    • May 12, 2019 at 8:45 am

    I just have a small comment about the timeline; to be aggressive first, ego work second. I googled ego work, and couldn’t find a definition, so I will just go with my intuitive assessment: to be conscious of and selectively respond to the instinctive promptings of personal survival, which is mostly also a very short-sighted facility. Additionally, I would like to soften the idea of aggression and work with the idea of agency. I think ego work adds perspective which can support agency.
    My personal experience is with studying stoic writings. It made me feel empowered, I actually went after a couple of ideas which in my normal survival-centered state would seem crazy to me. But ego work needs balancing off, or mine was incomplete, after all, as you guys are saying, it’s hard. And it needs balancing off indeed with ego – one needs to ensure one’s survival at par with the realization of one’s ideas.
    In fact, now that I am writing it, I sense confusion between agency and ego. Agency is not necessarily on behalf of ego, and ego although is often a (primal) source of agency, sometimes it may stand in the way.

  • Antonia Dodge
    • Antonia Dodge
    • April 4, 2019 at 3:06 am

    Thanks for the recommendation – just looked it up.


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