The ego is almost a closed system, thoughts tend to lead to other thoughts without resolution and as a result become circular. The reason the ego is ‘almost’ a closed system is because thoughts or beliefs that are untrue tend to cause us suffering. Suffering is a major clue that something is wrong and in particular that something is wrong with what we believe. It is always possible that a realisation could occur that would end this tyranny of the ego. For many hundreds of years there has been a debate within Buddhism concerning the gradual approach versus the possibility of instant realisation. It seems to me that in a way both are true and false at the same time. Realisation has always been gradual this is because I assume it is not possible to be born realised. This must be true for all teachers such as Buddha or Christ. Instantaneous realisation does occur but this is misleading because the moment before realisation it was not realised and therefore was not instantaneous. As to what realisation actually means it is not possible to say although it may be helpful if we can be clear about what it is not. Realisation will never be a construction of the ego; it will never involve beliefs of any kind. False beliefs are generally easier to spot but it is the beliefs that refer to things that seem to be true that are the most difficult to identify. These latter beliefs are very common among ‘spiritual teachers’ of all persuasions and their followers. They tend to sound very pleasing to the ear and to the ego. They are often about oneness and love and the light that shines within. All of these do point to things that are true but are nevertheless still beliefs and beliefs require a believer and the ego. It is very easy for the ego to appropriate anything from anywhere and espouse it as the truth. How can we know if what someone is saying is true or not? It is not possible to know - it is only possible to believe and a belief tells us nothing of the truth. It is not possible to be given this truth no matter how eloquent or wise the giver may be. If we want to be free we must look within and find for ourselves what is real and what is not. There are no shortcuts but there is the possibility of identifying what is of the ego and what is not. There is also the possibility of ‘realising’ that the physical sensations of the body are real but have no meaning. It is the meanings that the ego adds to these physical sensations that cause suffering. It is possible to switch our attention from what these physical sensations mean to what these physical sensations actually are. This is not easy because we have been assuming that the meanings we have added to these sensations for so long actually relate to something real. When we are able to be with the physical sensations of the body without adding meaning or resistance then the possibility arises of the ‘flip’ from ego to consciousness.