A bit of faith

When I first started out studying Zen, everyone told me to "kill the Ego". At that time I was very unhappy with myself and my situation, and this Killing of the Ego sure sounded like a good idea. I figured that if it was my ego causing all of my suffering then to be rid of it would also end my suffering too. So I started reading all of the Popular Zen book on how to meditate, where to meditate and how ego was the culprit to my suffering. I attended the local Zen Center, where we gathered about and talked about how our egos where like slave masters, bringing down much suffering on our heads, and that if we where to just not have it, the world would be butterflies and Buddhas!
Looking back at this now, I realize the hypocrisy of the whole scene. I had made a scapegoat out of ego, blaming it for all of my falls and troubles, never looking to what benefits it gave me. Ego, you see, got me to read Zen, study the Sutras and even attend the Zen centers. All along there was this "hidden strength" behind my Zen endeavors, and to find it was the very thing I hated was too much to keep me with in the ranks of providential Zen, where I became a traitor though simple realization. Perhaps ego is like forging Iron, we men can make tools of use or weapons of destruction, where it's the initial intention and faith that guide the forging of the iron.
I have chosen a few sections from the Lankavatara sutra to illustrate my point: [] are my comments
"Intuitive-mind is one with Universal Mind by reason of its participation in Transcendental Intelligence (Aryajuana), and is one with the mind-system by its comprehension of differentiated knowledge (vijnana). Intuitive-mind has no body of its own nor any marks by which it can be differentiated. Universal Mind is its cause and support but it is evolved along with the notion of an ego and what belongs to it, to which it clings and upon which it reflects. Through intuitive-mind, by the faculty of intuition which is a mingling of both identity and perceiving, the inconceivable wisdom of Universal Mind is revealed and made realisable. Like Universal Mind it can not be the source of error."
[Ego, in its pure and unblemished state is the echo of the Universal Mind. Egotism is when the person is failed in understanding the ego, its nature and is polarized by the ego, becoming hypnotized and entrapped with in the duel-world of the ego, where the production of Sentient Beings (thoughts and formations) takes place. The next passage talks about the ego enraptured.]
"It is better to cherish the notion of an ego-substance than to entertain the notion of emptiness derived from the view of being and non-being, for those who so believe fail to understand the fundamental fact that the external world is nothing but a manifestation of mind. Because they see things as transient as rising from cause and passing away from cause, now dividing, now combining into the elements which make up the aggregates of personality and its external world and now passing away, they are doomed to suffer every moment from the changes that follow one after another, and finally are doomed to ruin."
[Most Zen teachers that are worth the robes they wear, will tell you that the ego is what puts you in your seat as you sit Zazen. Ego is what brought you to Buddhism, it is what explores and what seeks, but more so it is what strives for realization.]
"The dhyana practiced by the ignorant is the one resorted to by those who are following the example of the disciples and masters but who do not understand its purpose and, therefore, it becomes "still-sitting" with vacant minds. This dhyana is practiced, also, by those who, despising the body, see it as a shadow and a skeleton full of suffering and impurity, and yet who cling to the notion of an ego, seek to attain emancipation by the mere cessation of thought."
["Notions of ego", or what I like to think as object representations of ourselves. In simple language this means cherishing ideas of what the self is and holding to them rather than exploring and evolving. One point that Buddhism is clear on is that our potential for evolution of existence is limited by our own cherishing what we are in the Here and Now. Egotism can be thought of as an illness of the ego. Where in our culture I think that we have ego diseases and many unhealthy ego foods that cause some people to be totally enraptured by their own ego, to the point of a complete psychotic break or a dysfunction that prevents them from rationally growing and out-growing their world. Egotism (ego-centric)as described in the Sutras is rejection of the Four Noble truths, and clinging to the Here and Now. It rejects Dharma and insists that it is a reality itself and not subjected to samsara.
Religion, personal or organized, I think attracts a lot of ego-centric people. Perhaps because it is the perfect hiding spot where no one is going to challenge them in their notions of ego. Also religion can become a weapon to drive away the Dharma by the use of Dogma, thus in Zen we get the cults of still sitting and in other Schools of Buddhism we see other dogmas that in some instances inflict grave damage on to people (reference: Tokyo Subway gassing). Egotism has always been a problem in religion, no matter what religion it is. The Catholics from the Muslims are also aware of this problem, because they too have cults with in their ranks that also cause grave damage to the people of this world. ]