Rescue Journal

How Do You Achieve No Ego

 ·  Jan. 5, 2008

Before I begin writing, I would like to thank Carol for allowing me this opportunity to write my opinion on the SAINTS blog as I am no longer affiliated with SAINTS as a volunteer. But I regard Carol has a good friend so I am connected to SAINTS through our friendship.
Well Carol’s post titled “another honest opinion†seems to have ruffled some feathers. If the post has made people think, then that is a good thing. It certainly has made me think about several things of which one is how do you separate yourself from ego. Now my thoughts on ego are very closely tied to my ideas of spirituality. What I am going to write may not make any sense too many people as my thoughts on spirituality is based on eastern philosophies. To me, the only way you can act without ego is to be able to disconnect yourself from ego and how do you achieve this. I believe there are few people through all time that have actually achieved “acting without egoâ€. These very rare individuals are ones that can separate themselves from humanity. In other words they are able to achieve a higher state of being. From this state, they can observe humanity, understand humanity and not judge humanity. In this state, the individual becomes closer to what we refer to as “godâ€. This concept becomes confusing to me because I think “god†exists as a community – or our energy creates a greater being which guides and shapes us (maybe it is a collective consciousness). Anyway, I do believe that acting with no ego can only be achieved through understanding oneself, not letting the past or what we expect from the future rule or decisions, and most importantly having a quiet centre within ourselves. We can only achieve this, and this is the really hard unattainable part, by being at peace with ourselves. How many of us can sit by ourselves, close our eyes and hear the sound of silence, feel the light on our skin and know that we are in the now and that is all that matters at this moment. When we can achieve this, than all ego has left us and we are peace with the world – we see it for what it is but we do not judge it which is another unattainable goal. In other words, we see who Hitler is but do not judge him as the collective consciousness will look after him. When we can do this then we are at peace with ourselves and there is no turmoil in our lives that is when things become clear. Now all of this does sound airy fairy but I do believe that some can lift themselves above humanity (well like .01% of the population) but I know I will not be able to achieve this goal in this life. I use my ego all the time to carry out actions in this world.
The closest person I ever met to being without ego was a Buddhist priest who spoke at an Amnesty International meeting I went to. He had such a sense of calm about him. I bought and read is book. This priest was jailed for 33 years in Tibet. During this time he was sometimes tortured. The priest would talk about the act of torture being wrong but he did not say the person was wrong – it was the act that was wrong. He finally got out of prison and into India and then began traveling the world to bring the cause of Tibet to the world. When he talks, he does not beat his chest and say he bleeds for the people, he does not talk about the heavy burden he carries, he does not say his work his heartbreaking and that he suffers for it or for the people that are still suffering in prisons, he just says this is his work. This is man who approaches life with very little ego. He can separate himself from humanity and see it clearly without judgment.
So my purpose in explaining all of my spiritual ideas is to give the reader an understanding of why I (no one else just me) don’t understand why others think they carry out acts of kindness or any other kinds of act without ego. To me ego is part of humanity and it guides us in our actions. I think people are used to believing that ego is a dirty word. Ego is a bad thing when it leads us to do bad things, when it becomes so huge we know longer hear our subconscious, when it blocks out others, when it is the only thing that rules us. I don’t believe Carol said anywhere in her post, that anyone’s ego was hugely out of control so I am not sure why everyone is getting bent out of shape on that word.



Thank you Leila for sharing your thoughts! You can add me to the long list of people who have not managed to live "acting without ego".

I feel that I have gotten far more back from many of the dogs I have rescued than I gave to them...does that mean that I shouldn't rescue dogs because of what I get out of it? I don't think you can place a value o the life lessons that animals teach us.

I don't rescue for praise or recognition, or to earn a reputation as a "good" person. I know that I have made a difference to the dogs we have fostered - some just by providing a safe haven while a home was found, others for doing extensive and long term rehab for various behavioural issues.

I feel proud of the work I have done with these dogs, especially those who wouldn't have found homes through the shelter system. It makes me feel good to get updates from their forever homes, knowing that they are safe and happy and loved.

Why would I put in all that time and effort and heartbreak if it didn't make me feel good in the end to know that a dog has a happy ending because of my involvement?

If that means that I am acting with ego, so be it. Until I reach a higher state, all of my actions are influenced by who I am, how I see the world, and how I make decisions based on what I know.


What a refreshing and thought-provoking post, Leila! It echoes much of my own thoughts on spirituality, life's purpose, and ego that I have not been able to put into words.
I once told a fellow rescuer that I "found my sense of purpose" when I became involved in rescue work, and that person criticized me because rescue was supposed to be about what I give to the animals, not what they give to me. But I think what I was really trying to express was that incredible sense of calm at my core that I experience when I work with animals.
I only wish I was spiritually mature enough to take that calm into my dealings with people - I wish I was one of that teeny tiny percentage that can lift themselves above humanity. But alas, I am only too human, with all humanity's foibles - so, like you, I doubt I will achieve a "no ego" state in this lifetime.
Thank you for taking time to articulate it so well. Your words moved me deeply.


Ego is part of who we are. I don't think anyone operates in this world without it...but in the context of rescue, one can operate without the desire for recognition...a more altruistic form, and one who operates for the purpose of recognition...a less altruistic form.