Ego: The Fall of the Twin Towers and the Rise of an Enlightened Humanity
  • I just recently finished the book called Ego, Don't remember wear I heard about it but its very faschinating book & I thought about the members on this site,Joe Rogans forum and Duncan himself ofcourse! I think you guys will like this book!
    Peter Baumann & Michael W. Taft goes into the subject of how we have survived from primates to how we as human works now. And how the talibans with osama could attack USA on 9/11. I thought they would go deeper into that whole part actually but they just use that as an example for how they describe how our psyche works. Now I have to say I did find it interesting & deep but its not IMO as deep as books by RAW, Leary, John Lilly or Terence McKenna to name some, but still its a solid book!

    It feels like alot of what Joe Rogan has talked about on his podcast when he talks about our evolution from apes, the fear of monsters under the bed is actually fear of dangerous animals etc. So when you read this book you will be reminded of all that.

    Heres a clip where the authors desribes alittle about our ego(from a 40 minute long lecture)

    You can read more about the book on its website

    Have anyone else here besides me read it, what did you think about it? :)
  • orgoneorgone
    I'm a Troll. Don't Feed Me.
    I'll fix the link, because that little excerpt is a pretty good description of the ego function in the brain.

    I was very happy to see him give a good, clean definition of the ego without confusing it with self-importance, vaingloriousness, and self-centricity. These very common conflations with the ego function itself make it almost impossible to discuss it coherently with other people, as demonstrated by the interviewer's initial confusion with their (admittedly fuzzy) definition of the function.

    I hope this thread could be used to discuss the ego as a function of our mentality rather than as its effects, which it is typically confused for. As for the book's strange injection of September 11th imagery, I'm not sure why or what it adds to the discussion of ego. Maybe you could give me a little more information as to why they drag 9/11 into it, other than as a marketing ploy.
    Post edited by orgone at 2012-07-21 14:14:44
  • Ah thanks for posting the video, was not sure how to do it :P

    Yeah I mean the book is really good describing the functioning and the mentality of the ego and they took 9/11 as a good example for different sides when it comes to the ego and that tragic day more than just a marketing ploy is because the authors wants to describe how a mans ego can drive himself to plan 9/11 and for another to hijack one of the planes still thinking they are doing a good deed and they are helping their country. And then at the same time they also at the same time describe how we use our ego for our survival and have done it since we where primates and how we have coped with it since then. Kind of hard to explain because it goes into it deep.

    The book covers alot of areas so it feels like I can't do it justice with just one post. but some part of the book explains how we are social animals, the reason we have survived so long from when we are primates is because we have been a group. I mean think about it if we where just one ape trying to survive then any other dangerous animal could kill us when we slept, but if we have a whole group then we can take turn in sleeping. With that same mentality if I remember correctly the authors claim the terrorists thought the same way, they wasnt going to crash into the twin towers to be evil. No they actually thought more of the way that this would symbolically mean that they have crashed the whole American dream so the soldiers can leave & stop in their image ruining their country by having e.g. female soldiers fight for the men and not living in the way that the Koran says you should.
    When 9/11 happend they also describe of all the sad feelings the new yorkers fellt, and when some people got to safety they like started hugging each other and bonded for surviving so I suppose that could be some function of the ego? They have lost their group of people and now with this tragedy they feel like they have a new or something? I don't know thats just a feeling I have of how the ego worked, I dont really remember what the book said about it.

    But you know the book is about 230+ pages and covers alot of area when it comes to the ego so as I said its quite alot, but I must say the things they write about even if it feels like stuff Duncan & Rogan has talked about I havent read about the ego in this way in a book before, the last part of the book is about getting a enlightened conciousness but it doesnt like mention The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, infact if I remember correctly in the beginning of the book Ego it sort of disses those types of self help gurus. Because they only mention short term solutions sort of.
  • hcehce
    The funny thing is that ego appears to not even be involved in problem-solving. Ego areas of the brain take credit for work done by other areas of the brain which are unconscious and silent.

    Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.

    Suppose you have a problem to solve and you're unable to solve it in the moment. The answer isn't coming to you or the problem appears too difficult.

    Many (all?) of us have experienced a problem that we couldn't solve in a particular moment but then we go away from the problem and the answer comes to us in the form of an "Aha!" insight. The solution seems to spontaneously arise but it doesn't arise until some interval of time has passed.

    Ego then jumps in and says, "Yes! I've done it! I solved the problem!".

    But the research coming from cognitive science and neuroscience is showing the ego plays no actual role in problem solving. Ego is just the thing that worries about solving the problem, it rationalizes fears about solving the problem, it builds strategies for directing blame if the problem isn't solved, it talks about past instances where we encountered similar problems, it projects future scenarios of what will happen if the problem doesn't get solved - but it doesn't actually solve the problem.

    Here's a paper related to what I'm talking about:

    Ego as a function is an interesting concept.

    If we look at ego as a function what goes into that function? What is its input?

    What operations are performed on that input? What does the output of the ego function look like?
    Post edited by hce at 2012-07-25 07:48:19
  • orgoneorgone
    I'm a Troll. Don't Feed Me.

    Interesting paper. I've always called the Ego the parade marshal, not the leader, organizer, or creator of the parade. The Ego is like a symphonic conductor, it thinks there wouldn't be music if it wasn't waving its arms around.

    I definitely think the Ego is being bombarded by/has access to any neuron firing at a given time, for whatever reason that neuron happens to be firing. It then organizes this information around the fact that it, itself, exists (for some reason people identify with the function and call it "I" in their internal monologue) and orients the information in such a way as to defend or augment its existence. A problem with the Ego for me is its automatic quality. The Ego will defend whatever form it has happened to take in a person - even though it could take on, configure itself around and 'defend' the identity of any thing.

    More key than anything is understanding what it is and what it isn't, as well as when you're using it and when it's using you. The Ego too often gets conflated with the general sense of being self-important. This is a vague description. We can't get control of this thing roaming around in our minds without a clear picture of it. I'm fairly sure without awareness and a motivated effort to govern the Ego, its job is to govern you.
    Post edited by orgone at 2012-07-26 11:13:37
  • hcehce
    orgone said:

    The Ego is like a symphonic conductor, it thinks there wouldn't be music if it wasn't waving its arms around.

    I'm stealing this one. :-)

    orgone said:

    I definitely think the Ego is being bombarded by/has access to any neuron firing at a given time, for whatever reason that neuron happens to be firing. It then organizes this information around the fact that it, itself, exists (for some reason people identify with the function and call it "I" in their internal monologue) and orients the information in such a way as to defend or augment its existence. A problem with the Ego for me is its automatic quality. The Ego will defend whatever form it has happened to take in a person - even though it could take on, configure itself around and 'defend' the identity of any thing.

    Let's talk about "for some reason".

    Identification seems to need "juice" for this defending/augmentation process to play out.

    If I say to you, "you're the worst juggler in the world", but you're not a juggler, you will likely be unphased. There's no identification there and so the words fall flat. Like water off a duck's back. No defense of identity is mounted because there's no identity there for the words to "stick" to. It has no "juice."

    On the other hand, if you're one of the top-ranked jugglers in the world and you've devoted your life to being a juggler and you've accepted that juggler identity as "who I am", there's probably a visceral impact in the body upon hearing "you're the worst juggler in the world."

    It's the avoidance of this visceral negative emotion or body sensation which prompts the ego to mount a defense. Ego is saying "no" to the visceral impact of fear/pain/suffering and running in the opposite direction. This running in the opposite direction is the movement of reinforcing or defending or augmenting the identification.

    I see augmentation of identification as a disproportionate response to the perceived threat to the identification. It's overkill. It's like, "worst juggler, huh? I'll show you!". The avoidance of the negative emotion or feeling results in augmentation and strengthening of the identification. The reaction and response outweighs the threat to the identification. It's adding an extra lock on the door to ensure the fear stays away.

    And so the mold continues to expand its coverage area on the piece of bread.

    But where does ego get the juice?

    I haven't rigorously thought out these ideas so I'm just going to ramble a bit here.

    I see identification as being inseparable from the negative emotions or negative body feel. I'd call it fear or pain or suffering but it's a raw sensation in the organism apart from whatever idea most people have about fear, pain, or suffering. It's a not-so-nice feeling in the body.

    The flip side of the identification coin is fear.

    The fear is what keeps identification from spiraling completely out of control in most people. I think this identification/fear combo is also at the core of our ideas about property ownership but that may be a discussion for another thread. Anything that's "mine" is only mine because of identification, and with that identification comes fear. My house, my car, my children, my body, my country, my religion.

    We know not to bring up religion or politics in polite company because we know that conflict will likely result. Conflict arises wherever there's fear and fear exists as a pairing with identification. I don't see identification and fear as separable.

    I see the "juice" for identification ultimately coming from our direct present moment experience of being-ness. The root node of this ego tree or ego network structure is a core fear of meeting our own non-existence. I think language and ego come later and branch out from that core fear of death / non-being / non-existence.

    The moon appears lit at night only because it is getting light from the sun. Ego appears real only because it is getting juice from the raw experience of being-ness. To try to separate ego identification from the raw sense of being-ness can be like trying to separate brown sugar that's been mixed with beach sand.

    The intensity of the fear seems to be very much correlated to the degree of identification. The more we identify with something, the greater the fear we can experience related to that identification. The most obvious example being our bodies. In my opinion, we can experience no greater fear than meeting our own non-existence head on. To come face to face with the annihilation of identity.

    I think ego identification can be "rolled back", even beyond the core fear of death. When this core fear is met and seen through while the organism is still alive, there's no longer a place for fears to stick. The root node is gone.

    Once the core fear is gone, fear cannot exist. I think this is what guys like Ramana Maharshi have done with self-enquiry. They're literally rolling back or diminishing the "I" beyond even this core fear of non-existence.

    I welcome any criticisms or questions or comments on what I've written. As I said, I haven't really fleshed a lot of this out so it's a little rough around the edges.
    Post edited by hce at 2012-07-27 08:17:55
  • hcehce
    Here's a Ramana Maharshi quote to supplement my point above about the core fear of death and "rolling back" the "I".

    " I seldom had any sickness and on that day there was nothing wrong with my health, but a sudden violent fear of death overtook me. There was nothing in my state of health to account for it nor was there any urge in me to find out whether there was any account for the fear. I just felt I was going to die and began thinking what to do about it. It did not occur to me to consult a doctor or any elders or friends. I felt I had to solve the problem myself then and there. The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: 'Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This body dies.' And at once I dramatised the occurrence of death. I lay with my limbs stretched out still as though rigor mortis has set in, and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, and that neither the word 'I' nor any word could be uttered. 'Well then,' I said to myself, 'this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and there burn and reduced to ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead? Is the body I? It is silent and inert, but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of I within me, apart from it. So I am the Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit.' All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truths which I perceived directly almost without thought process. I was something real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with the body was centered on that I. From that moment onwards, the "I" or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished once and for all. The ego was lost in the flood of Self-awareness. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time. Other thought might come and go like the various notes of music, but the I continued like the fundamental sruti note ["that which is heard" i.e. the Vedas and Upanishads] a note which underlies and blends with all other notes.".[11]"
    Post edited by hce at 2012-07-27 08:11:58
  • orgoneorgone
    I'm a Troll. Don't Feed Me.
    @hce All good points you make. The attachment/identity-fear dichotomy is an important one. I really don't have much to add.

    I lost my ego several times (the latter times with the intention of doing so) on psychedelics. They left me with the overwhelming impression that thoughts are simply abstract objects within abstract frameworks; and that the "You" I had been working on was just a biographical work of fiction provided by the autonomic processes of my brain. I had no where else to go but to body-identification, since as far as I can tell the Ego is being produced by the body. It seems most religious people think this works the other way around. Psychedelics allow us to kill ourselves without dying, and see our processes from an angle of greater perpendicularity than we are used to.

    It would be an aside, but the ideas surrounding property do interest me. As an anarchist economist my primary stumbling block with the Western mind in discussion is how firmly rooted the property conception is. They literally think it is an innate quality of the universe, like gravity. I wonder if you think this has to do with the "identify with unto death" drive of the Ego itself.
    Post edited by orgone at 2012-07-29 18:26:13

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!