Why is there so much dishonesty in the world? Because the ego, which almost everyone carries, is nothing more than a mental construct, and since it is not real, we have to constantly lie in order to keep it up.
We erroneously believe that we are male or female or black or white or American or Iraqi, when in fact we are nothing more than the conscious entity that has temporarily adopted these attributes. We could have been born a different gender or color or in a different part of the world. Would we then be a different entity? Of course not – we would be exactly the same being, only with different temporary attributes.
The ego is a show we put on for ourselves and/or others. We pretend to be stronger or smarter than we are, we compete against others for recognition, we feel proud about our accomplishments or heritage, and we fear losing or not getting temporary possessions and accolades. It is all an act, and because it is only an act, it is a lie. Thus as long as we maintain our ego, we lie. We feel that we have to lie, because if we don’t, the ego cannot exist.
All the drama in the world is based on lies. People claim that they are “better” than others of a different skin color or nationality. They defend a crooked politician if he is a member of their own political party. They claim that the random religion they were brought up with just so happens to be the one and only correct one. They hoard possessions as though material goods somehow add to who they are. They hate or kill others simply because they have a different belief system. It all boils down to one thing: the ego lying in order to preserve itself.
When we are honest we see quite clearly that underneath all the worldly stuff, we are all the same. We all want love, acceptance, peace, and material comfort. None of us want to be hated, persecuted, cold or hungry. The time and place we were born, our physical bodies, and the belief systems we have been taught are nothing more than arbitrary, temporary situations. Each being has a different permutation of these external things, but they do not change who we really are, just as putting on a suit or a dress doesn’t make us a different being from the one we are when we wear a T‑shirt and jeans.
The ego is the biggest lie ever told. It’s the one that claims that our temporary externals define us, that they make us different from the conscious entities we are beneath, and that they make others “wrong” or “inferior”. This is such an enormous, absurd fabrication that one might think that no one would ever fall for it. So why do we? Because the physical world is very easy to see, hear and touch. It is tangible and noticeable. We can easily see all the different skin colors and hear all the different beliefs people talk about. Our consciousness, on the other hand, cannot be seen directly, because it is not a physical thing. We can look outward and see what is not us, but we cannot see us. We can see our bodies, clothing and possessions, but we cannot see our true selves. This is why we cannot find ourselves; we can only find out what we are not.
To strip away our externals is frightening to the ego, because it believes that our externals are all we are, so if we were to get rid of them, we would disappear. Also, since the ego is a thought/belief system, it needs a sense of certainty because its tenuous identity depends on an unchanging belief structure. If its belief that its nationality, skin color, religion, political belief, social status, and financial situation define it (and perhaps make it “better” than others with different attributes) turns out not to be true, then the ego that is based on that belief will vanish. It will thus stop at nothing to keep up the façade, because it is fighting for its very existence. This is why people argue, lie, steal, and kill.
This thought system keeps us from fully enjoying life. Remember how wonderful it was to play with toys and run in a meadow when you were a child? What happened to us? We developed thought systems, and we use them as an interface between us and the world. Rather than experiencing things directly, we run everything we perceive though our thought filter. A beautiful meadow is no longer directly perceived and enjoyed. Now we think, “This is beautiful.” “I want to keep enjoying this.” “I don’t do this often enough.” “Where else can I go to get this kind of beauty?” “I can’t stay long because I need to run some errands.” If we could only cease all this thinking, we could see reality a lot more clearly and have more poignant experiences.
This does not mean that we should never think again. We need to work, run errands, balance our checkbook, and maintain relationships. But we can use our power of thought wisely. Is it wise to use it to create negativity, drama, fear, resentment, anger, and violence?
When we simply perceive, without distracting ourselves with thoughts, life becomes simpler, less stressful, more relaxing, and more enjoyable. The one thing that stands in the way of peace and happiness is our ego.