In the end, what everyone wants is to have a good life. A good life means more or less the same for everyone: a decent place to live, food on the table, good health, education for the children, and most importantly—the certainty of a bright tomorrow. When we ask ourselves what is preventing us from leading such a life, it is clear to most people that only our ego, in all its forms—pride, tyranny, exploitation, bullying, cruelty—prevents us from leading a good life. However, instead of asking how to overcome the ego, we ask how to protect ourselves from other people’s egos, in the best case scenario, or worse, how can we impose our own egos on other people.
There is a reason why we are not asking the obvious question: How do we overcome the only obstacle on our way to happiness? The thing that obstructs us, namely the ego, distracts us and diverts our attention into seeing other things or other people as the problem. But if we rise above our feelings and think logically for just a moment, we will realize that if we felt close to one another, if we felt like family rather than like enemies, we would not fight against each other.
The tricks that the ego plays on us are nothing new. For thousands of years, it has been pitting us against each other. For thousands of years, we have been killing, exploiting, abusing each other, and rejoicing at our neighbor’s pain. No other being does that, only humans, because only humans possess the inner serpent called “ego.”
Past societies were not as venomous as is ours today. In some cases, they truly lived like a family. But the ego does not remain static; it intensifies and poisons everything on its path. Humanity has tried every option. It tried the extreme left and the extreme right, capitalism and socialism, anarchy and rigid orders, monarchy, democracy, theocracy, and the list goes on and on. Nothing has worked and nothing will work as long as the ego governs our minds and hearts.
While humanity has been embroiled in incessant fighting, one man, who lived nearly 4,000 years ago, asked the right question: How can humanity defeat the ego in our hearts? The answer he found made him so happy that he realized how to help humanity, that he began to spread it wherever he went. That man’s name was Abraham, and the message he gave to all of humanity was that instead of trying to defeat other people’s egos, or even our own ego, we need to focus on the positive, on nurturing non-egoistic connections.
Abraham, who became known as “the man of mercy,” thanks to his novel idea, began to accumulate followers who understood that he was right. Pressured by the self-absorbed authorities in his homeland, Babylon, Abraham took to the road and headed for Canaan. Along the way, he accumulated more followers who saw the beauty in his idea. They were not a nation, at least not yet; they were a crowd of people who sympathized with their teacher’s idea. It was only when they began to implement Abraham’s method among themselves by nurturing care and consideration instead of alienation and selfishness, that they began to form a never-before-seen manner of unity.
Through their unity, these people discovered something that people did not know before: Everything is connected. Because they added the element of giving to their self-centered nature, they could feel that everything in reality not only receives but also gives to everything else. In this way, they established a balanced and harmonious society that became a model for the rest of the world. That society became known as the “people of Israel.”
However, they did not maintain their solidarity. Their egos kept growing, as the ego grows in each and every person, so eventually, they, too, succumbed to it. Nevertheless, Abraham’s legacy remained in them, and very few among them kept that teaching alive in books and teachers.
Today, this wisdom is opening up to the whole world, since the world has exhausted its options. The futile efforts to find a way to overpower the ego have opened people’s minds to a wisdom of connection that does not try to suppress the ego, but to enhance connection. My teacher, RABASH, as well as his father, Baal HaSulam, were such teachers, and I try my best to make their teachings accessible in any language and in every place. Today, we are ready to ask the right question: How do we overcome the ego? Today, the ego will not be able to lure us into false ideologies that lead nowhere except to more misery.