Does suffering burn up the ego?





Are there shortcuts you have found to this process…suffering is never fun so can you share with others any shortcuts you have found? Perhaps Mother Earth isn’t capable of being absolutely destroyed through our learning process, but she is in much pain as most of us are too (individually and collectively). If deep pain is a sure, but slow and steady way of burning through the ego’s desires of materialism and separation do you know any spiritual clues/hints/growth mechanisms that helped you personally?
Hi Rob P,
As always thank you for your response. I do not mean burning through anything internal that is an integral part of me or anyone else. I stated to burn through ego’s desires. I apologize if this wasn’t clear!
Also, my question is in reference to the portion of the video where Eckhart Tolle discusses spiritual short cuts around suffering.
I guess I don’t understand what you mean in your answer although I do always appreciate your wise and compassionate answers (and questions!)
Thanks! Love and light :))
Ah-ha! Now I understand what you are saying Rob. It took me a couple of times reading it before it clicked. Thank you for this post!!!!
“Ego causes suffering therefore it cannot be consumed into non-existence by that which it created. Understand?”
Yes, now I get what you are saying… I think at least 🙂 You are saying that ego suffers and ego causes the suffering…right? Both are in our mind’s perception from ego’s perspective, right? Please let me know if my interpretation is off.
And you are saying that the ego can’t be burned up into non-existence by suffering because it created suffering…so it would be impossible to destroy something by its own creations? You are saying it is impossible to create something to destroy yourself into oblivion? Clinging to falsities creates suffering so by giving up the illusion of ego we automatically give up ego and it no longer exists?
Hmm…another way of asking this would be to ask if you all know of a way to grow spiritually…to see with clarity what is ego and what is true self, that is, what is the lower self and what is the higher self….do you know any bypass around suffering….or is suffering the only way to snap to attention? Or in your opinion does suffering have nothing to do with it? Is growth possible without suffering? I know in my own personal experience, which may or may not match yours, that I was in a nightmare…it involved losing love which made me question everything to do with ‘conditional’ “love’ I sought out unconditional love and didn’t stop until, to my surprise, it was within me all along!!! Okay, so that is a much abbreviated sharing of my story…but the main point is that if I hadn’t fell in the anguish of being abandoned in a relationship then I never would have questioned much of anything…never questioned conditional love, egoic things, etc.
“I am not sure I agree with the concept of shortcuts. Our past lives dictate our Karma for the present one and to take a shortcut is like kicking off a blanket that is there to warm you though it may feel a little scratchy. The suffering will cease when you are free from accumulating Karma.”
Thank you Claptic…what you say does resonate…. 🙂
****No thumbs down from me…I greatly appreciate ALL answers 🙂 ****
Jill E that is a BEAUTIFUL answer! Thank you 🙂


  1. Suffering seems to be the ego noticing ‘What Is’, minus any equanimity and times grasping something else. Suffering is unnecessary. It is energy (qi) which has been appropriated by ego. Ego always thinks…thinks it knows what it is doing and is charged with making things “better” – or less dangerous in any case. When suffering is turned towards, directly faced with mindfulness, it may be revealed for it’s purely energetic makeup, just like anything and absolutely everything else. It gets it juice from one’s belief that things could be better, somehow, somewhere, sometime soon but just not here now. However true it may be that things could be better, things can only be OK if they are understood exactly as they are. Mindfulness and awareness are the key to the end of suffering, and to some extent to the experience of pain as well. This ‘turning towards’ might be thought of as a shortcut, but the shortcut to understanding how that might be true is to be really accomplished in mindfulness. Well, at least I have found it useful and utterly practical enough times to recognize the truth of the many sages teachings. Just dis-identify with it.
    The Buddha summed it up well enough in saying that everything is perfect as it is. He then went on for many years to teach how this may be realized and practiced. I sort of like where he started when he looked at the root cause of suffering here: ?Through countless weary lives I have sought the builder of this house and could not find him.?
    Buddha (said upon awakening)

  2. .
    I don’t believe suffering burns up the ego in the short term. I don’t believe it serves any useful purpose at all, except maybe to show us that we want to find a way to live without suffering. Our birthright is not meant to be one of suffering.
    Worldwide, and for the good of the planet, it would take centuries, millenia of intense world wide suffering, to even begin to show the peoples of the world that suffering and causing suffering benefits no one.
    We need to realise that our suffering comes from our own actions and from our own thoughts. Collective and individual. Yes, there are exceptions of sufferings, such as disease, pain, which maybe we have to accept and just make the best of.
    But the suffering we inflict on ourselves and on the world collectively is 95% manmade.
    We live on this jewel of a world and we are slowly ruining it by our selfish actions.
    We can only begin by, “being the change we want to see in the world”, and then let our actions be a shining light for others to follow.
    Vote for the Green Party, get involved in conservation, recycling …. anything we can think of that benefits the earth and the people of the earth.
    We are not supposed to suffer. It is not in the grand plan. It is caused by the feeling that we are all tiny separate entities and the only thing we have to care for is that tiny separate entity. We need to be able to see that we have to care for the whole, the whole world and all the people in it. When selfishness stops then suffering will stop.
    The only short cut I know is if as many people as possible poured love out into the world, and all actions became actions of love and respect for fellow man and for the earth and all it’s inhabitants.

  3. In a way, yes. Suffering is what makes us all equal. Suffering makes us all humble, so in that sense, it destroys ego. At least it should destroy it. Many people continue being arrogant even through sufferings.

  4. for me personally: i went through a short spell of materialism in my high school days: but maturing & seeing other peoples suffering i believed cured that :: the most i’ve suffered was via a long:term abusive relationship [total of 9yrs & he’d become violent 6yrs in] & that also taught me a lot

  5. The Ego which makes us think I am the body may be partly burnt with sufferings. But this ego is the essence of all Living beings to think act as i am the body with out knowing the self within. I have my doubhts that Ego can be Burnt by sufferings. But sufferings can make the intensity of Ego to reduce., and make us to learn and know more about the self within.

  6. Nothing ever burns up or destroys Ego! Ego is an essential part of a living being.
    Through suffering…that ascetics/seekers/sadhus choose as a lifestyle…one can keep it down or under control, and learn to empathise with other beings. Ego will still be present!
    There are so many mythological stories in Indian literature that speak of those Rishis/Munis who do penance/bring upon themselves physical sufferings/torture to get boons from the Gods…but, they get easily angered/upset by slights, real or perceived, and misuse their acquired powers to curse the hapless victim! I find it mystifying! The only explanation could be that the EGO comes back ‘enlarged’ once their mission is completed!
    So what to say of us mere mortals!

  7. Yes, if only we accept suffering without excuses, ranting and bickering but as a witness to its purifying process, then, it is ego dissolving for good.

  8. No. I don’t believe suffering burns the ego. Rather it remains suppressed for the time suffering lasts, and raises it head once again when good times come. Ego can be consciously brought under control, by internalizing the human values of love and concern for others.

  9. I am not sure I agree with the concept of shortcuts. Our past lives dictate our Karma for the present one and to take a shortcut is like kicking off a blanket that is there to warm you though it may feel a little scratchy. The suffering will cease when you are free from accumulating Karma.
    “Ceasing to feed the imagination on things not Self, full of darkness, causing sorrow, bend the imagination on the Self, whose form is bliss, the cause of freedom.”
    “The body of the sage who has become the Eternal is consumed away, even before it has fallen to the ground — like a fresh leaf withered — by the fire of consciousness.”

    If you know that game then you can see the interaction of suffering/ego, there are several things that trump the others in the particular circumstance—I do not see it as universal though.
    I observe that the revolutions, putsches, over throws of history have been more or less spurred by suffering of one sort or another (wars too as a matter of fact) such undertakings where a group in control is removed by force is I feel the ultimate expression of ego (anger@this end of the scale), so then if suffering erases ego why have there been all these wars, upheavals, and so forth ? You said ‘burns’ ego so if it burns it I take that to connote its consumption,removal,digestion, so in effect erasing it ! To the contrary does not suffering feed the ego ?
    Who would have fomented the Revolution Fran?aise had they not suffered under the rule of a despot king ? This case that suffering not only led them to toss Louis XVI but has kept the French people snooty to this day !

  11. No, I find suffering is more like sandpaper slowly sanding down a giant redwood tree (ego). Suffering drives us deeper most of the time though not always. The ego is a resilient little monster with more lives than we can imagine and an uncanny ability to project itself up to look huge when in reality it is very small. The ego will grab hold of any techniques one can come up with to try to hasten the deepening process and use them to stall or stop the process completely all the while convincing you that you are making great progress towards liberation. Any technique that depends on time to practice and work is just another tool for the ego to usurp progress. There is no progress towards liberation, there is only liberation now.

  12. There are no shortcuts. Just like a diamond cannot be forged without centuries of heat and pressure. I pity the person who thinks that those who suffer are unworthy of life or deserving of the suffering. When it’s their turn, they won’t be able to handle it.

  13. I know people who have suffered their whole lives and they have the biggest egos that I know of. I have come to believe that the ego is always there, a defender of self-identity. Some people have to defend their notions of self with selfishness, total ignorance, or forms of thought that block out ideas, doubt, and negative feelings, that would so burn their current ego, their most up-to-date sense of self.
    I’ve learned not to deny my ego, just to buff it, which is very egotistical. :’c(
    I think suffering is like a stop sign, but also a green light, a motivator at times; it depends on how you think about it. If your leaning on your shoulder and it starts to hurt, you’re going to want the pain to stop, and at the same time that suffering would motivate you to move it. When I start to suffer, whether from frustration brought on by stressors, or agony brought on by some type of fear, I like to stop, and think about how to react, which normally leads to better consequences, then acting out on my frustration. Even so, there are times when the immediate response is the best response.
    That is about as far as my insight goes, and I like to believe that information has helped shift my ideas about life.

  14. Suffering can certainly do it fast. I found staying at a zen monastery for a two day retreat reduced my ego, though it was still suffering. At least for me it was; I’m not used to sitting for that long and had lots of back pain.
    I think there are also specific meditation exercises you can do to reduce your dependence on ego. Not sure what they are called though.

  15. yes but I didn’t do it on purpose. My house burnt down with everything in it. So I had to start all over from scratch. I need to find a way to this myself without the universe forcing it upon me, but it’s very difficult to let go of everything all at once like that.

  16. Suffering, it has oft been said, is the crucible of faith. Why do you suppose that is?
    Now then, nothing external can “burn up” any portion of what is within YOU. Suffering is a choice or at least the result from the sum of many choices. Suffering is internal. Ego is internal. Pride is what we have cause to cling to most often. Suffering comes from the losing of what we cling to. With this knowledge passed to you now, how is it that what is a part of you can be burned up, as you state?
    Suffering does not do this. And why wish burning upon what is you? The ego is neither good or bad but is simply here for our learning purposes.
    Once the purpose of suffering is understood and that it brings forth blessings of untold treasures of the soul, then will ego begin to be overcome in them who are ego-controlled. Suffering is a grand gift of Divinity and yet it is still viewed upon by many as pain.
    Ego causes suffering therefore it cannot be consumed into non-existence by that which it created. Understand? Release yourself from what you cling to and suffering ceases. When all is surrendered to and suffering ceases, ego has thus passed on.

  17. I used to think God makes people suffer.How dumbI was.The sufferings of this present time are not compared with the glory of heaven.Satin causes suffering in this world.what has helped me most if that there will not be any suffering in heaven.satin will know longer has control over our mortal bodies.We will be spirit not flesh.Knowmore will we be in pain. until that day comes we must live one day at a time and pray through our sufferings knowing that one day we wont suffer knowmore.we must pray for each other in the midths of sufferings,and love one another as christ loved us.

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