The ego and its attachments.
As you know, your identity, or the ego, is built of various habits, bonds, relationships, beliefs, and values that shape your reality. They determine all the decisions you make in life. However, not only them but also your opinions and opinions of your surroundings. They are an inseparable part of you and determine the awareness of who you are. In other words, who you are is a collection of all those.
In this article you will learn:
- How the ego attachments work on a specific example.
- 5 levels of beliefs: true self, preferences, identity, internalization, and fanaticism.
Your faith in what is truth shapes all your bonds and emotional reactions. What meets you in life, what you see is automatically adjusted to your value system by your ego.
Instead of experiencing what is you constantly explaining, justifying, and judging your life in order to adapt it to your beliefs. Instead of enjoying what is you are still telling yourself a story by filtering your life through your beliefs. You spend years getting attached to them to varying degrees in order to feel safe. The more you get attached to something, the less you see it.
When you begin to realize the functioning of this mechanism, you will begin to understand superstitions and fanatical worship for your addictions and blind compliance with once adopted rules.
What does it mean?
For example, if you’ve always had a two-course dinner at home: soup and main course. That’s what dinner looks like for you, for your ego. When you eat a sandwich instead of dinner understood that way, it will not be dinner for you, because there was no soup and main course. It doesn’t matter if you had a meal and you don’t feel hungry. You will still think that you did not eat your dinner today, despite having satisfied your hunger at the right time. This is just a simple example, now imagine how it works with really important things. Crazy, right?
These established habits do not allow you to focus on the present moment. They make you dream of a past that no longer exists, or threaten you with the future, instilling unreasonable fears and taking away peace. How does this apply to sandwiches? Well, you are not happy that you ate it, you do not feel the taste, you do not savor it. Either you are worried that you will be hungry because you did not eat dinner, or even sick because you ate only a sandwich and not a full-fledged dinner. Has it no sense? But that’s how the ego works. Things you are used to are beginning to shape your experience and limit the perception of reality outside of your concepts. Like you were blind.
Throughout your life, the ego constantly talks or comments on everything you do, say, see, touch, feel, taste, and hear. This internal narrator keeps the flow of events plugging the main thread, not noticing the millions of side threads that unfold without your participation.
5 levels of attachments.
All attachments of your ego can be divided into 5 levels with different levels of intensity. They show how attached and enslaved you are to your own point of view and how open you are to other opinions and possibilities.
The knowledge and information you receive is shaped and deformed by your inner narrator – your thoughts. When you believe in something so much that you begin to lose awareness of yourself, you allow prejudices to work for you. That is why it is very important to know the degree of one’s attachment to each individual belief. Being aware of these phenomena, you regain the power to make independent decisions.
Your point of view creates reality when beliefs dominate you, your reality becomes rigid, non-developmental, and overpowering. You are doomed to restrictions because you lose the ability to understand that you can free yourself from them. You begin to convince yourself that you are unacceptable in its present form. Therefore, you have to meet some expectations to deserve your own love. It seems to you that to be worthy of your love you must live in accordance with the expectations that you set for yourself. You try to test yourself in tasks that you came up with yourself.
Meanwhile, who you are does not require any translation.
It’s just you.
You are perfect as you are at the moment, and that’s enough to enjoy life. The world and everything that exists in this world, and thus you, is perfectly perfect by the very fact that it exists, at this particular moment, in the only way it can exist.
When you are too attached to this reality that you have created for yourself, you block changes and leave no room for development and growth. You fight, quarrel with others (and with each other) to strengthen your beliefs and definitions of how the world works. You become a prisoner of your own views. Meanwhile, changes are inevitable and take place throughout your life. Love ends, you lose your job, discover the first gray hair, experience the death of a loved one, etc.
Level 1: Your Authentic Self.
The first level of attachment is the Authentic Self. A living being with full possibilities. This force that not only nourishes the body, but also the mind and soul. It never leaves you, but you forget about it through all your bonds and attachments. It is this harmony of mind, body, and soul, harmony with everything, and the energy of life that permeates you. Unity with the Creator. A community between you and all creation. Awareness training, spiritual practices introduce discipline and strengthen the will, which will help you stay in this state longer – if you choose. In this state, you have enormous strength for unconditional love.
Level 2: Preference.
At this level, you are still acting with the awareness of the Authentic Self, but you already recognize in yourself the possibility of bonding with something that at the moment moves you, but you are able to reject all bonds when this moment passes. You are self-aware and you respect yourself when you enter into relationships with people around you who imitate some image or mask on you. Don’t forget that it’s just a game and you free yourself from it at the end of the fun.
How does it look in practice?
For example, you decided to eat a healthy diet and after learning about the available sources of knowledge, you decided on a vegan diet, excluding all products of animal origin. You’ve made your choice, but you don’t identify yourself as a vegan yet, so if you happen to eat an egg because you felt like it, you’ll do it without judging yourself and then go back to your diet.
Level 3: Identification.
At this level, you begin to feel the need to name, describe, and understand the things you struggle with. Knowledge will help you understand the world and the universe, but when you come to understand yourself, your identity turns out to be a symbol, wrapped in an element of your knowledge. As you attach to your own identity, knowledge, and consensus become more and more important to you, to the point that they give sense and meaning to your entire life. You build a mask of your identity and transform it into the deification of the acquired knowledge.
How does it look in practice?
You start to define yourself as vegan, which symbolizes your preferences, even when they are not just about food. Vegan identity gives purpose and indicates your place in the community. If you ate an egg at this stage, you would feel disappointed in yourself and your choice, but after a while, you would absolve yourself and go further.
Level 4: Internalization.
At this level, your identity becomes a model of self-acceptance. This is domestication through attachment. At this level, your inner narrator begins to set conditions that lead to the domestication of identity. You begin to focus on internalizing the idealized version of your identity and present a false image of yourself only to ensure acceptance (conditional love). You lose respect for yourself and other people.
How does it look in practice?
You use your vegan identity as a catalyst for conditional love. To earn your own love, you must be an orthodox vegan and you have no right to go astray unless you want to feel the anger of your inner narrator.
You surround yourself with other vegans who confirm your superiority of being vegan by judging yourself or others. And you are constantly persuading the people you love to change their diet. You feel sorry for them that they are not ready to accept your point of view.
Level 5: Fanaticism.
This degree is already deep bondage and attachment to knowledge with extreme intolerance to opposite views. It derives from the need to believe in something 100%, even if the meaning of this something results solely from a contract concluded by others.
How does it look in practice?
For example, you can try to convince your partner of your diet. You bother giving him an identity that you believe is only right. Threaten to break up with any rebellion on his part. You don’t stop pressure to win or break up.
In the course of life, you naturally change from one level of attachment to another. Sometimes you drown out consciousness, and sometimes you reject attachment by unlocking your own authenticity. You have experiences from different levels in different periods of your life.
Awareness of your own bonds and beliefs is the starting point for all renewal processes.
Identifying what you are inclined to, what you identify with, and why you fanatically adhere is the first step to discovering your own True Self. Accepting the truth, whatever it is at the moment, means accepting yourself as you are, along with relationships, dependencies, and everything else.
So, what are you, if not your identity or your True Self? Who you are? Here are the key questions on the spiritual path. Unfortunately, the answers cannot be put into words. You know you exist and you are not this body, this mind. You are a living being who breathed life into both body and mind.
Don Miguel Ruiz Jr “5 levels of attachments” (“5 poziomów przywiązania”), Galaktyka, Lodź, 2013).