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We often use the words 'ego-maniac' or 'egotistical' for someone like the young man in the above illustration who is self-consummed and probably a bit of a buffoon. It's almost comical. And yet, the ego's illusion is far darker than that, which is what I wish to explore in this post. provide an orientation to the topic.
But first, I''ve included a number of sample quotes on the topic to provide an brief introduction to this subject:
When the ego dies, the soul awakes. Mahatma Gandhi
The Ego is a veil between humans and God. Rumi
Don't feed your ego with my soul. Arzum Uzun
Religious people often prefer to be right rather than compassionate. Often, they don't want to give up their egotism. They want their religion to endorse their ego, their identity. Karen Armstrong
Shyness is just egoism out of its depth. Penelope Keith
The Self says ‘I AM’–as in the very grand sayings of Christ, especially in the Gospel of John, in which he says in the state of onenenss with Yahweh (which in Hebrew means ‘I AM’), I AM is the way and the truth and the life–but the ego says ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that,’ thus attaching itself only to a small portion of the Vastness. Ravi Ravindra
The ego mind both professes its desire for love and does everything possible to repel it… to sabotage it. Marianne Williamson
Ego is recessive in wisdom. Toba Beta
The personal ego already has a strong element of dysfunction, but the collective ego is, frequently, even more dysfunctional, to the point of absolute insanity. Eckhart Tolle
What is life to Spirit, is death to the ego. Vivian Amis
What good is an ego in a universe of one? An ego has no room to move in a universe of one.
How odd that we spend so much time treating the darkness, and so little time seeking the light. The ego loves to glorify itself by self-analysis, yet we do not get rid of darkness by hitting it with a baseball bat. We only get rid of darkness by turning on the light. Marianne Williamson
From the above statements, it seems obvious that the ego has everything to do with fear, resulting in separation, alienation, anger and pain. Even pride, as we see with Mr "I know" is based on the insecurities that result from fear based beliefs. Definitely, the ego is not our friend, it is ours or some one elses!
Btw, if you haven't read the post on KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE, that may be of interest since the ego's illusory existence is based on the fears we have chosen to believe about ourselves, others and our world.
In any case. let's begin this discussion with Shakespeare's Hamlet.
The picture above is a clip from the 1948 movie of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, starring Sir Lawrence Olivier. Personally, I think Hamlet was being way too hard on Ophelia, considering the sorry state of his haunted mind. He was hardly in a position to tell his sister she had two faces just because she didn’t wish to support his avowal to avenge the murder of their late father.
In any case, the question remains, what does Shakespeare mean, ‘the face that God gave us,’ and the pesona mask we deceive ourself with.
Perhaps we first need to ask what do we mean when we use the word ego? Mostly, it's is associated with negative qualities that spring from its root. More often than not, the word means egotistical, egocentric, egoism, egotist, egomaniac, egoic, etc.
'Ego' is the Latin word for 'I' or 'das ich' from the German 'the I,' first known to be used in 1787. Though it is employed throughout the Elysium narratives, in some ways it seems as inadequate term, as thought it was re-contextualized from the psychological applications of Freud as an analytical device, (though it had already been used in Germany for years by those in related professions). Yet it seems the only modern word available that comes close to what we mean when attempt to describe the self's illusory state of consciousness. In religious terms, it's often called the 'fallen' or 'sinful' nature of humanity.
Philosopher, scientist and mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1782) employed the word aproprium to convey the same idea, which means self-ownership, separation/apartness (self-ism) from the divine. Perhaps this would be the most appropriate word for me to use if it wasn’t considered so archaic and unknown today.
In Elysium’s Passage, the word 'ego' conveys this same meaning of illusory separation when the mind identifies its reality with the 'I' self that remains enthralled with the illusions it creates. Over and over, James’ mountain companions insist the only alternative to that sad state of deceptive existence is for the mind to perceive reality through divine enablement and union with the heart. Only then can we be whole to know who we really are.
Eminent Britist Philosopher Bertrand Russell had a very insightful comments regarding how the ego keeps us narrow and how we need to allow our consciousness expand beyong its limitations.