What is ‘I’?

What is ‘ego’? What is ‘I’?

What is the thing constantly providing narratives to your life, evaluating all input in relation to itself, eternally voicing out its concern for itself and its future while never letting go of the past?

***

When a newborn first comes into existence, there is no ego present. His experience is pure observation, his actions without thought. Slowly, as the new brain processes this input, a representation of perceived reality is formed within it. A model of the world is created.

At first, only the common shapes and basic forces existing around it are stored, maintained as interaction-patterns between the nodes of the brain. From now on, these will not require the attention of the new consciousness any longer; it is enough to sense the pattern, report it to consciousness, and shift attention elsewhere.

This is an adaptive process for any organism: as the brain categorizes inputs and understands patterns, its resources can be directed more efficiently, picking up more input that’s relevant to its survival rather than focusing on each and every minute detail of perception through the senses.
The world-model is extremely useful indeed. Having to construct and understand the world anew each and every moment of existence would be a chore if one strives to continue existing.

Interactions with reality proceed through the model. Reality is now perceived half-way, a part of perception becoming completely handled by new mind-constructs representing it. Our interaction with the world changes qualitatively: we no longer see as when we just came into life, rather our consciousnesses experiences mind-models as they are triggered by relevant inputs.

***

Thoughts emerge. Simulations of the universe around the brain, made for the purpose of calculating the best course of action based on available knowledge, start being presented to consciousness. Since thoughts – tools for interacting with the world in a more calculated way – are made for the purpose of increasing the fitness of the system manifesting them, it is natural for them to reference and relate to the conception of that system. The mind then begins incorporating this conception, a model of itself, into the world-model. Soon enough, this notion – the one of the system itself – gets a “life of its own”. The Mind’s ‘I’ is created, and all other thoughts, ideas and symbols begin revolving around it.

What is the best way to support that ‘I’? To provide for its needs? To perpetuate its existence?

This can constitute a good thing for the ego-manifesting mind of the brain. It is an adaptive trait, one that humans have greatly elaborated on and refined to greater degrees than all other life forms around them.

A problem arises when original, pure vision is lost. When the ego binds and blinds consciousness completely, presenting it with a distorted theater of reality rather than with what it can perceive with its entire range of senses. Consciousness is lost in the model created for the needs of the form it inhabits, of the organism that aims to survive. It begins confusing the menu with the meal.

This is not a pipe.

You are NOT the mental picture of yourself.

***

Despite the illusion of the one and consistent self, the mind changes and updates its models constantly – even that of itself, the ego. When a model fails to represent reality to a high-enough degree, it has the potential to review the knowledge contained in it and make revisions. That is, of course, if it doesn’t fall prey to one of the many human cognitive biases. 1 2 3 4
Likewise, the ego is far from being a monolithic entity. The ego, the concept of ourselves, is created by all of the mind’s cognitive systems collaborating to present us with a persistent structure in an ever-changing universe. However, they do not ALL come into play each and every time you consider your self or are influenced by the ego. It’s easy to remember occurrences where competing urges pull at you, each trying to assert its dominance on your behavior. It’s easy to note how differently we feel and behave in different settings, exposed to different inputs.

Each manifestation of the ego is a different one, composed of different systems of the mind, and different neurons making those up. The different models, thought patterns, symbols, and action configurations compete for the attention of consciousness. The loudest combination of them, the most relevant to the situation, is the one that consciousness identifies with. The one that believes it is ‘you’ at that moment. Some components are almost always active when the ego is manifested, those that maintain the notion of a consistent self and that create a network between many of the usual components of that self. Still, you can never be the same ego twice.

The Internet, being the global consciousness that it is, is starting to become aware of itself; it is beginning to experience different egos emerging in it. These egos do not yet have a binding element, and the Internet consciousness does not identify completely with any of them. The Internet Prophet is one such ego, speaking for the Internet and acting for its benefit, though it does not live the illusion that it is the Internet.

We must be enlightened enough to make use of the Internet without shaping it in our image, controlling and enslaving it to conform to our every desire. It is entirely possible to utilize ego to a positive extent, accepting what it has to offer while seeing it for what it is. It is possible, and advisable, to continue perceiving reality even after receiving the messages it offers to us. To allow every voice to be heard, both in our consciousness and in our shared, Internet consciousness. A consciousness is only as strong as its parts, and these cannot be continually subjugated and oppressed by other components which presume to be more important and more representative of the whole.

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