The Ego and Self

Being a human is a messy affair because we are many things at the same time. To keep things simple and the post focussed, let’s assume that we are mainly two things: an ego and a self.

The self is our true identity – that in us which was never born and will never die. In the Genesis the soul is called Adam (literally human), whom Elohim created male and female in His-her image and likeness. In other words, it’s our Divine Self that remains unaffected by our incarnations.

Our ego, on the other hand, is mortal. It was born with our body and will perish with it. It’s a temporary ID or mask (mask is the literal meaning of the Latin persona). It is a product of our mind and, therefore, a very fluid and unreliable thing (the mind is never still).

ego self and mind

The common enemy of all religious disciplines is egoism of mind. For it is just this that causes ignorance, anger and passion, which are the roots of all the world’s troubles. – Dalai Lama.

The Trouble Maker

All our issues can be traced back to the lack of understanding who we really are. What’s wrong with identifying ourselves with our ego? We hate to break it to you, but the ego is a jerk. He’s an ignorant, selfish nincompoop gets us into trouble all the time. The thing is that you can’t live with him, but can’t live without him either – for now at least. Deal with him as what he is: a necessary evil. Worst of all, the ego is a mess and suffers from DID, Disassociate Identity Disorder. We wrote a long post about him here:

If you want to know more about your Divine Self, read this timeless affirmation about The Truth About the Self. It is recommended to memorize it and recite it upon waking up and before going to sleep.

Self-importance is not only the sorcerers’ supreme enemy, but the nemesis of mankind. – Carlos Castaneda … ugh it should say ego-importance 😉

Our self is like a sun. It shines inside our heart, gives us life, confidence, and inspiration. The ego, on the other hand, is like a cloud that covers our sun (the cloud upon the sanctuary). Like clouds it waxes and wanes. One day it lets a lot of sunshine through, the next day it makes it all cloudy and gloomy. And like clouds, the ego is an illusive, foggy existence.

On a side note: the ego waxes and wanes according to Astrological rhythms and it’s worth the effort to create statistics about the ego’s beat. Simply observe how your thinking, feeling, and actions change as you live through the zodiacs. Keep an eye on your sun sign and ascendant, these two have a strong influence on your ego. If you want to get into details, consider a moon calendar as well.

Realize Your Self

Now, what to do about this? First thing: you gotta keep the ego and self apart. This is what is really meant by the following phrase of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes: “Though shalt separate, the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, suavely and with great ingenuity.”

But this is no piece of cake, since the ego is extremely tricky. Carlos Castaneda wrote about this: “Self-importance is not something simple and naïve,” he explained. “On the other hand, it is the core of everything that is good in us, and on the other hand, the core of everything that is rotten. To get rid of the self-importance that is rotten requires a masterpiece of strategy. Seers, through the ages, have given the highest praise to those who have accomplished it.” … ”Warriors fight self-importance as a matter of strategy, not principle,” he replied. “Your mistake is to understand what I say in terms of morality.” … ”Warriors take strategic inventories,” he said. “They list everything they do. Then they decide which of those things can be changed in order to allow themselves a respite, in terms of expending their energy.” – Carlos Castaneda, The Fire from Within, page 14, ctd.

On another side note: when you make efforts to shrink your ego, you gotta reach out to your higher self at the same time, otherwise, you will just enter into an (ego) identity crisis.

Why is the ego a matter of energy? Because it has no power on its own, it has to borrow energy from the self or other people. Have you read the Celestial Prophecy and how people compete for attention? That’s the ego at work right there.

The Spiritual Key Indicators

Void of a power source, the ego resorts to all kinds of tricks to stay in business. What makes matters worse is that it has coupled up with the intellect that he uses as a bodyguard. If you’re interested in knowing more about the alliance of the ego and intellect, read this chapter of God Child. Since the ego is so foggy, it’s almost impossible to get a firm grip on him. Luckily, we can observe our attitudes and that’s how we can catch him in the act. Here are eleven indicators that can prevent us from falling for our ego’s schemes:

#1: The self resides in the heart, the ego loiters in the head. Feel and know when your awareness shifts from the heart to head and vice versa.

#2: The self loves – it’s a giver. The ego wants – it’s a taker. If you make a decision with you head, it probably turns out egoistic. If you make a decision with your heart – it will always bear some kind of benevolence. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with thinking, logic, and reason per se, but when the ego takes over the intellect, it’s usually rational abuse galore.

#3: The ego is a nincompoop. It nags and whines all the time. If you find yourself thinking and feeling things like: I can’t do this! or This is impossible! or I don’t have time for this! – be sure that your little ego is whimpering. Your self will comment with a quite, but sure: I can do this! or will just go ahead and get things done.

#4: The ego is lazy. The Germans have a saying they use when they do sport. It’s goes something like this: Vanquish your inner pig-dog! Pig-dog means asshole. It’s the lazy ego that finds excuses for not making efforts. Our true self, on the other hand, likes to widen horizons and push beyond limits. Francis of Assisi made the perfect comment: Start by doing what’s necessary; then, do what’s possible. Suddenly you’re doing the impossible.

#5: The ego is rude, the self is polite. The ego likes to bully others, the self protects the weak and mends the broken.

#6: The ego is angry and violent, the self is peaceful and patient.

#7: The ego likes to apply blame and shame tactics, the self’s understanding is abysmal.

#8: The self is a charming winner and perfect counselor. The ego makes bad decisions and has a subconscious need to lose. What is a need to lose? Ask gambling addicts – it’s a cryptic, self-inflicted torture … sorry, I should have said ego-inflicted torture.

#9: The ego is proud, the self has honor. What’s the difference? We are proud about things that we have done nothing to deserve, like a pretty face, a sexy body, or rich parents. Honor, on the other hand, is always the result of some kind of achievement. Another good distinction: pride is thinking good about oneself, we gain honor when other people think good about us. Napoleon Hill: Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.

#10 The ego makes us weak, insecure, and depresses us – as Andrew Solomon said: the opposite of depression is vitality, not happiness. By the way, he held an excellent speech about depression here on TED.

Why is the ego a matter of energy? Because it has no power on its own, it has to borrow energy from the self, or other people. Have you read the Celestial Prophecy and how people compete for attention? That’s the ego at work right there.

Don Juan said then that in the strategic inventories of warriors, self-importance figures as the activity that consumes the greatest amount of energy, hence, their effort to eradicate it. … “One of the first concerns of a warrior is to free that energy in order to face the unknown with it,” don Juan went on. “The action of re-channeling that energy is impeccability.” – Carlos Castaneda, The Fire from Within, page 14, ctd.

Robert A. Monroe also elaborated on this, in Far Journeys, somewhere between page 254 and 263: By far the largest accumulated heavy load is the emotional mass loosely held as the human ego. Originally a probable sprout from the survival imprint, it requires and consumes constantly immense amounts of reinforcing emotional patterns, all of which are by their very nature distorted and distorting. Ego exploits the concept that it is needed to exist and achieve, that the emotion of confidence cannot exist without ego support, that happiness is satiated ego. Ego can bring forth hundreds of irrational emotional reasons to justify its existence – sidestepping the fact that emotion and irrationality are not synonymous. It steadfast maintains that there would be no human personality were it not for the ego. At least, the ego is correct in one premise. The human is an emotional being. It’s simply a question of utilization, of application … Begin Ego Diet Regimen: A frontal attack on this most entrenched and concentrated center of distorted emotion is contraindicated as not feasible. Much too many lose that battle, most never begin it. The trick is to start a cut off the emotional power feeds that are vital to its existence, modify and redirect the energy therein. Bear in mind that you are bombarded constantly with ego gratifications ploys aimed at modification of your behavior for the benefit of others. The problem is in your emotional response, not in the blandishment itself and the consequential acts you perform. If you want to drive a luxury car simply because you enjoy it, that’s fine. If it makes you feel more important, or you like to be seen driving it, if you have to put “my” in front of the identification, you’ve found an ego power feed. Keep this perspective and apply it when the need arises, and act accordingly.

Here is another interesting quote from Carlos Castaneda: Don Juan’s argument was that most of our energy goes into upholding our importance. This is most obvious in our endless worry about the presentation of the self, about whether or not we are admired or liked or acknowledged. He reasoned that if we were capable of losing some of that importance, two extraordinary things would happen to us. One, we would free our energy from trying to maintain the illusory idea of our grandeur; and two, we would provide ourselves with enough energy to enter into the second attention to catch a glimpse of the actual grandeur of the universe. – Carlos Castaneda, The Art of Dreaming, page 37

#11 Last but not least, the ego has countless wishes and wants, but the self has his-her heart’s desire. A heart’s desire is the one thing we really want to be (and do) in our present incarnation. It’s the beacon of our life. Mind that a heart’s desire is an intention, not a result. Example: the desire to be a fire-fighter is a manifestation of the intention to save people. The realization of our heart’s desire is probably the most important spiritual exercise of all. Mind that it’s not easy since our ego will do everything to sabotage this quest and the pursuit of our dream.

Deep inside our heart lingers something great, awesome, invincible – our true self. But as compassionate as it is, our self doesn’t care about normalcy – money, possessions, career, entertainment – it doesn’t give a damn. Our true identity has a greater agenda – it prods us to fly into outer space, climb the highest mountains, dive into deep seas, build pyramids and cathedrals, paint Mona Lisas, fight the Hitlers of our days (in politics and economy),  and sometimes sacrifices our physical body for a greater course.

This is what the ego fears the most: our self. As Marianne Williamson wrote: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It was said earlier that we can’t live and can’t live without the ego for now. The ego is a scaffold, its purpose is to uphold our self-awareness until we unite with our true self. However, when we perform the great work or walk the path of enlightenment, we eventually reach the point when the ego has to go for good and is replaced with the true self. This is the deeper, spiritual meaning of Christ’s Second Coming.

“No way,” he said, gently patting my shoulder. “Warriors prepare themselves to be aware, and full awareness comes to them only when there is no more self-importance left in them. Only when they are nothing, do they become everything.” – Carlos Castaneda, The Fire from Within, page 128

the world

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