Freud and the Buddha, ego and self…

Life is too short to waste time in pathetic displays of ego, though many of our so-called leaders offer litle guidance in that regard. And ego is one of the traditional pet peeves of Buddhism, though I doubt that the Buddha or anyone else in his time could really conceive of it the way we do in our post-Freudian world. Even if the discipline of psychology has largely been transformed from the science of the mind to the science of behavior, his tripartite division of ‘the mind’ into the three paradigms of id, ego and superego still linger in the consciousness of those of us who studied him, though such distinctions may now seem quaint, fanciful and downright misleading in our post-rational era of particles, genomes and information bits and bytes. But that classical era of psychology shines a light on the Buddhist role of psychology as analogy and metaphor, with many such ‘mental formations’ as self, soul, permanence and eternity serving as linguistic conveniences where no such observable entities may truly exist. But if it feels good, then we do it, and even the Buddha was sympathetic to such machinations and intellectual short-cuts if the results are beneficial to society and the individual in perpetual limbo and looking for a path forward where such is a trail with few markings. We spend half our lives being born and half our lives dying, gathering moments for memories all along the way, and looking for signposts to mark our progress…