What Eckhart Tolle calls the “ego” isn’t who any of us really is. It’s just a made-up sense of ourselves that we carry around in our head.
Yet this self-image, which bears little resemblance to our authentic inner being, can be quite resistant to dissolving even when we are keenly aware of it. Not because it has any intrinsic power, but because it springs from our insecurity and feels it has to compete to prove we’re “someone.”
Why does the ego function defensively and competitively?
Simply because we are so used to thinking of ourselves as a separate entity from the rest of creation.
Not realizing we are a part of and supported by the whole—not knowing we are a manifestation of the Source of everything, expressed as our particular and unique form—the ego believes it needs to defend itself lest it be swallowed up.
But when the ego is swallowed up in awareness that we are part of the whole, all that disappears is our distorted view of ourselves, our insecure “feeling” of ourselves, our need to compete and protect ourselves.
What remains as ego dissolves is who we truly are… which requires no defense…
Eckhart explains that nature doesn’t have this very human problem of confusing our true self with the egoic image we have of ourselves. As he writes in Stillness Speaks:
All things in nature are not only one with themselves but also one with the totality. They haven’t removed themselves from the fabric of the whole by claiming a separate existence: “me” and the rest of the universe.
The contemplation of nature can free you from that “me,” the great troublemaker.
All the troublemaking in our lives originates in our egoic state of imagining ourselves separate from the totality, believing ourselves to be a certain kind of person instead of simply flowing spontaneously from our essential being.
The antidote is to spend time in nature. Not doing other things in nature only, but actually being with nature in stillness.
In this way we allow the natural world to lead us back to our own wholeness… and to our cooperative place in the totality, free of the competitiveness and defensiveness of an ego that believes it has to establish an identity and “prove” its validity.