Most people have heard the word ‘ego’ before. It is used in our language with usually a negative connotation, like in the popular saying above. Yet it is really interesting to know what ego means from a spiritual perspective. The concept of ego is usually misunderstood, and in this article I want to do it justice.
The ego is a part of our psyche that identifies with the material world. The ego says things like: I am the body; I am the emotions; I am successful; etc. The ego is the sum of all our beliefs about ourselves: who we think we are rather than who we really are. The ego is a deceitful mental structure that appears as that which it is not. The ego is the source of ignorance, attachment and desire. It is the fundamental source of all our suffering. Which also means it can be a master tool on our path towards happiness.
EGO VS SOUL
The ego is rooted in physicality and does not know any superior dimensions, unlike the soul. The EGO is therefore often opposed to the SOUL:
“The ego is a jealous god, and it wants its interests served. It does not want to admit the reality of any dimensions except those within which it feels comfortable and can understand. It was meant to be an aid but it has been allowed to become a tyrant.”
The ego is our companion whether we like it or not! It is wise to make use of it instead of fighting against it. We need to transcend the ego instead of rejecting it. And because our societies told us that having an ego is ‘bad’, we are missing the point and trying to suppress our ego—which can lead to serious mental imbalances.
The self is not as fixed as we would like to think. The ego is born out of fear and isolation. It likes certainty, security, repetition and is always reinforcing its own vision of itself. In fact, it gives the illusion that we know ourselves better than we actually do.
The key question is: ‘Are you sure you know yourself as well as you think you do?’
Ego = 1 ÷ Knowledge
More the knowledge, lesser the ego.
Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.
The ego has its very important place and we can learn to work with it and direct it towards higher goals. It is the purpose of any genuine spiritual practice to learn about the self and discover the mechanisms of the ego to master existence in the physical dimensions.
EXAMPLE : HEALING WITH THE INNER CHILD
The ego protects the wounded inner child that lives inside each one of us. The inner child is about past experiences, needs that did not get fulfilled, emotions that were suppressed. The story of our life is a story we’re familiar with: it is the story the ego feels safe to tell ourselves. So if we understand that and detect patterns where the ego is trying to protect us, we can trigger healing work on the inner child.
In popular culture the ego is seen as something negative and that suggests we should get rid of it. It’s easy to see that there is confusion between having an ego and being driven by one’s ego in life.
The ego is a part of our being—whether we like it or not—and because of that we cannot just remove it. Yes, we need the ego because we cannot exist without the ego. It is what allows us to have a differentiated existence from Source2. Without the ego, we would be merged into oneness and could not enjoy life on Earth as we do; for example: having a physical body with rich sensorial inputs. There’s no way to taste the delicious taste of a fresh fruit ripened by the sun without an ego. It is what allows us to have our own story distinct from the story of our friends or family.
So the ego is not negative in itself. It’s just that most people give it way too much importance in their lives. It needs to be balanced. Therefore it is a common spiritual mistake to believe the ego must be suppressed. Instead, it should be transcended.
One of the most important spiritual concepts that everyone should know about is the ego. The main purpose of the ego is protecting the mind. It is also a mechanism to enable the self to inhabit the physical plane. It’s a sort of camouflage. It’s not who we really are. But for most people it will appear to be what they are.
The ego makes us see the world through its lens. It has a limited vision of reality. If we give it too much attention, it will make us suffer. The only way towards enlightenment is to learn to know one’s ego and transcend it. When we learn the ways of the soul, we find out that we were wrong all along, blinded by the logic of the ego which seems valid in the physical realms but is a fallacy for whoever had if only a glimpse of existence in higher dimensions.
Finally, the ego has to be mastered in order to find happiness and inner peace. We are all engaged in the pursuit of happiness; at some point in life we realise that this is all that matters. So I will leave you with this quote:
Ego says: ‘Once everything falls into place, I will find peace’
Soul says: ‘Find peace right now then everything will fall into place’
Put simply, this Spiritual Law states that the more we give, the more we receive. The ego is all about receiving things and does not like giving. By forcing ourselves to give more often—but in an authentic way, with a pure intention—we can actually transcend our ego. ↩︎
Source can be seen as God, the Creator, the Universal Consciousness or any other wording that fits you spiritual framework. ↩︎