How do I know if I enjoy answering questions because I feel helpful or because it strokes my ego?

Why does this program demand that I add more words to my question?

  • What about feeling helpful and stroking ego at the same time. I think the 2 are not mutually exclusive. – Mike de Klerk Jul 14 '17 at 14:14
  • I did actually wonder about that. – Kauvasara Jul 14 '17 at 18:52
  • If I remember correctly, this is built in to the SE concept i.e. channelling that urge to be seen as an expert into helping others. The more you help others, the more you win :-) – Simon H Jul 15 '17 at 6:15
  • perhaps ego that is intent on enlightenment, can be stroked with good fruit? – Erik Kaplun Mar 10 '20 at 20:31

Ego is identification. Some thought experiment, that consider the option to have action without identification, may point it out:

  1. Would you invest the same amount of time if it was completely anonymous?
  2. If someone would downvote your answer, how would you feel?
  3. Would it make a difference whether your answer is downvoted with your name in in the answer, or completely anonymous.
  4. If you could choose to add your name or signature to it, would you care?
  5. If you had to choose up front, with your name/signature, or without, not knowing whether your answer will be up or down voted. Would you wish you have added your name/signature if everybody is upvoting your answer like crazy. And would you be happy that you didn't add your name when everybody was downvoting it like crazy.
  6. Some extremes to create clear contrast: Someone asks a question why to continue with life because he/she is horrible depressed for years and seriously considers suicide. You provide an answer and he/she completely turns around and started living life to the fullest, the moment he/she read your answer. Would you tell this story to your friends/family including that it was you that provided the helpful answer. Or would you just tell how someone was helped by some answer and don't care at all to mention that you gave the answer.
  • I like your approach of asking those questions here. It would appear I actually enjoy just helping others no matter if I am ID'd for it or not. I get a rush from helping others, but have questioned even my own motive at times. At that point it seems almost selfish. I get a little dopamine boost for helping others AND people think highly of me for it? That's like a two-fer. So there must be a catch. – Kauvasara Jul 14 '17 at 19:02
  • I like your feedback. Espescially that you seem to stay in the moment as you write you get a boosr from it. That is the moment you are doing it you are enjoying it and not some future imagined goal you wish to accomplish. That is the right intent if you ask me. Keep it going! Thanks for your question btw. I needed a moment to think about it and came to realize where I have ego related motives to investigate. – Mike de Klerk Jul 14 '17 at 21:38

How do I know if I enjoy answering questions because I feel helpful or because it strokes my ego?

By undertaking the practice of insight meditation, one will actually weaken the sense of Self.

One will come to realize that the idea/sense of self is merely a mental formation belonging to the 4th aggregate of mental formations. By diligent and repeated practice, one will come to see the 3 signs of existence, i.e. the mental formation is both impermanent, unsatisfactory and uncontrollable/ungovernable, meaning it cannot be a Self.

If a Self could exist it would be something that one is in control of, something that is amenable to ones will. Through insight meditation, we find that nothing in the conditioned realm, is really like that.

Here is a Dhamma talk on Anatta, by Ajahn Punnadhammo. In here he talks about how the Buddha explained the 4 four ways in which we create a Self and the 3 levels on which we create a Self. The talk is highly recommendable.

In the "Discourse on the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta", by Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw, he explains as well, the 3 leves on which one can create a Self:

Clinging to Things as Mine

Of the above three forms of grasping, “This is mine” is clinging with craving; “I am this” is clinging with conceit; “This is my self” is clinging with wrong-view. When one has taken delight in an object with craving, even if the object does not belong to oneself, it is grasped with craving as if it were one’s own. On seeing delightful objects in the shops, one takes delight in them as if one already owned them. One imagines putting on jackets and longyis that one likes. One also imagines trying on shoes, as if they were already one’s own. One grasps everything, animate or inanimate, as if it were one’s own if one likes them.

Therefore, the Blessed One asked, whether it was wise to grasp and take delight as, “This is mine,” regarding things that are impermanent, unsatisfactory, and subject to change, whether it is fitting to delight in terrible suffering. The matter in one’s own body is constantly originating and dissolving. If one sees this arising and dissolution as it really is, one would be fearful just like having to live in a dilapidated building. Even though one might feel well and happy at the present moment, a change for the worse may occur depending on circumstances.

Once it is realised that it is not enduring even for a moment, always changing, and therefore terrible suffering, how could one take delight in it? Would anyone choose with great pleasure as one’s life partner, someone who is going to become an invalid within hours or days or who is going to die soon. No one would take delight in such a course of action if they really know what is about to happen. Likewise the meditator who sees the unceasing process of origination and dissolution of the aggregates finds only terrible suffering in them. Finding them as such, the meditator has no desire to grasp materiality as “This is mine.” The group of five monks therefore answered that it is not fitting to regard materialiy as mine. This is an account of the questions and answers on how, having seen the characteristics of suffering, it is unfitting to take delight in it as happiness, as something that is satisfactory.

Clinging With Conceit

To consider materiality as “I am this,” is to cling to it with conceit. When one has good sense-faculties and can see or hear well, one takes pride in them: “I have good eyes and ears,” “I look beautiful,” “I have a pleasing voice,” “I am healthy,” “I am strong.” Is it fitting to cling to materiality in this way with conceit? Conceit is developed regarding one’s possessions when there is a misconception that they are permanent. The material qualities of eyes, ears, visible forms, etc., are wrongly regarded as permanent, and consequently, vanity develops about them. Take for instance the case of a person who has a cache of gold or silver hidden in a certain place. The owner is full of pride over this wealth.

However, if he or she learns that the cache has been robbed and he or she no longer owns any treasure, the bubble of conceit is burst. Likewise, clinging to the material qualities of eyes, etc., which become manifest at the moment of seeing, hearing,etc., and thinking they are still in existence, conceit is developed about them. The meditator who notes constantly knows that they all vanish after they have arisen and finds no reason to be proud as “I have good eyes,” or “I am beautiful.” Therefore when the monks were asked, “Is it fiting, to regard materialiy as “I am this,” their reply was, “It is not fiting, Venerable sir.” The Blessed One let it be known by means of this dialogue that there is conceit when things are conceived as permanent; there is no conceit when they are known to be impermanent.

Clinging With Wrong View

Holding on to the belief “This is my self” is clinging with wrong-view. This wrong view is held fast when there is belief that the materiality in one’s person is everlasting, and amenable to one’s control. When knowledge arises that it is unstable, constantly arising and vanishing, and unsatisfactory because it is unstable and subject to dissolution, there is no more reason to cling to materiality as a self, as a living entity. When the meditator knows that materiality cannot be controlled by wishing, “Let everything be pleasant and wholesome, let nothing unpleasant or bad happen, let all pleasant materiality remain permanently,” there is nothing to cling to as a self. Thus to the question, “Is it fitting to regard materiality as ‘This is my self,’ the five monks replied. “No, Venerable sir.


I have bias this answer to pali-canons because pali-canons' contents comprehend the reasons, for all profits, more than people today, who cut some possible reasons off and kepp only their attached profits. I also have to use too much pali words, because my english is terrible and dhamma is very hard. I have to use 2 hours to write this little answer.

Board-ego = māna & taṇhā & micchādiṭṭhi & avijjā & ahiri & anotappa & uddhacca.

The best way to see your board-ego are "checking and proving" your&the others' answers in every ways such as pali of tipitaka, commentary, sub-commentary, and the other teachers' comments.

Why checking&proving are the best way?


  1. Micchādiṭṭhi and taṇhā, that always arise with kusala, viewing&attaching wrong causes&effects. Sammādiṭṭhi viewing right causes&effects. While checking&proving about causes&effects of the whole contents of topic's page, the good practicer can see his/her/the others' wrongs&rights, but the bad practicer can not (avijjā). Because they have not checking&proving enough to notice (vijjā) his/her/the others' wrongs&rights. They have not enough respect in the others' right causes&effects that having many pali-references. So enough checking&proving can let you notice wrongs&rights of causes&effects.
  2. Māna can not change their status, that attached by taṇhā. Māna, that arising after micchādiṭṭhi, can not change their wrong viewing and attaching. So enough checking&proving can let you notice māna.
  3. Ahiri and anotappa can not respect in the others' right causes&effects that having many pali-references. So enough checking&proving can let you notice asaddhā (distrust), that always arise with kusala (wholesome), in the others' right causes&effects.
  4. Uddhacca can not catch any causes&effects. While good practicer read topic, they will try to understand the others' references. But bad practicer will not try, because bad practicer can not catch any causes&effects. So enough checking&proving can let you notice your uddhacca.

You can also notice board-ego by the other cetasika, such as dosa, issā, alobha,passaddhi, etc., too.This method is called "cittānupassanā-satipaṭṭhāna". I just write the most important cetasika for this topic.

Sadly, people today are so hastily and judge someone according to the appearance. So checking and proving are not important now.

In my experience:

Almost everyone in every forum often told me to practice myself, such as "you are stroker. you are close-minded." I checking&proving then answer them, that sometime I accepted to develop myself, sometime I asked for the reference, and sometime I explained.

But on the contrary, almost everyone didn't call me for reference, accept me to develop themselves, or explained their view.

This is very big difference that always show to me from every forum discussion. It is called "open-mined" and "close-mined".

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