Do Positive Affirmations Reinforce The Ego In A Non Dualist Sense?
I would feel it is very likely that positive affirmations reinforce the ego. It is simply putting another layer of conditioning upon the egoic sense of a separate self, which in reality does not exist in the way we have imagined. Awakening into non-duality means that the old conditioned identity falls away, either seemingly all of a sudden or over time. So affirmations are not useful as a practice for discovering the truth of one’s being. Positive affirmations are attempts at self improvement but picking and choosing thoughts is not likely to remove subconscious belief patterns which do need to be seen and worked through along the way. When a certain level of presence or inner stillness is cultivated, thoughts and particularly subconscious belief patterns will arise in Conciousness, they can then be examined to determine if those old belief patterns are in alignment with Truth. When it is seen that they are not, they usually simply wither and die away. They can at that point be replaced by a new belief. For example in presence you may become aware of a belief rising up into conciousness of ” I am unworthy” you simply witness this, and you can also ask *is it true?” You cannot know for certain if that belief is true, and it could be equally true to say “I am worthy” and you may then replace the old belief pattern or you may just question it, which can be enough to dissolve the assumed power it has in your life.
For a long time I suffered from insomnia and like most people I thought it was a bad thing and would get worried about not being able to sleep, and then feel under par and tired all day the next day. . Eventually I asked myself is it really true that I suffer from Insomnia, or can I just enjoy the peace of the night time and the opportunity to meditate in the quiet of the night, to go outside and enjoy the night sky and the peaceful sounds and atmosphere. Very quickly my sleep patterns improved, but more importantly I was no longer ‘suffering from insomnia’! . Changing my perspective. So it is a good idea to examine and question any thought patterns or beliefs that create suffering in you. You can also ask ‘to whom do these thoughts come’?
Along with other practices such as meditation, questioning thoughts and beliefs that create unhappiness and suffering within you is more useful than positive affirmations.
This answer originally appeared on this Quora question on Subliminal Messages.
Why Your Self-Image Might Be Wrong: Ego, Buddhism, And Freud | Mark Epstein
I think the average person who knows maybe a little bit about psychology or a little bit about Buddhism would think that the Buddhist emphasis or the Buddhist conversation about the ego is all about getting rid of the ego completely. There’s this notion in Buddhist psychology of “egolessness” or “no self”, and most people misinterpret thatas Freud actually didmost people misinterpret it to think that Buddhism is saying we don’t need the ego at all or we don’t need the self at all, like get rid of it and then we’re one with everything and that’s it. And I think that’s wrong. Obviously we need our egos. A good friend of mine Robert Thurman who is a Professor of Buddhism at Columbia, a Professor of Religion at Columbia, he had a Mongolian teacher in the 1960s who used to say to him about this topic of egolessness or selflessness: “It’s not that you’re not real, of course you’re “real” you have a self, but people like you secular people who don’t really understandthink that they’re “really real”” and what Buddhism is teaching is that that belief in your own “really realness” is misguided. We take ourselves more seriously than we need to; the self is not as fixed as we would like to think. The ego is born out of fear and isolation.
It comes into being when self consciousness first starts to come, when you’re two or three years old and you start to realize, “Oh, there’s a person in here,” and you’re trying to make sense of everything: who you are, who are those parents there? The ego is a way of organizing one’s self, and it comes from the intellect as the mind starts to click in. And for many people it stays in a kind of immature place where our thinking mind, our intellect, is defining for ourselves who we areeither taking all the negative feedback like, “I’m not good enough,” and the ego fastens onto all the negativity, or the positivethe affirmation like, “Oh, I’m really something.” And the ego likes certainty, it likes security, it likes repetition, and so it’s always reinforcing its own vision of itself, and that starts to restrict us, to confine us, to make us think that we know ourselves better than we actually do. So to bring Buddhism into therapy or to bring Buddhism into a secular audience, it’s all about starting to doubt the ego a little bit. Maybe you don’t know yourself as much as you think you do. Maybe some of those fixed ideas that have been operating inside of you since you were a little kid and conditioning the way you interact with other people, with the world, maybe those are not all so right. Maybe you’re not as really real as you think you are, and you could start to let go of some of that a little bit…