Understanding the Ego
In most spiritual books, the ego has quite a bad reputation. The reason is that, the ego, in a certain way, is the program in our mind that separates us from each other, makes us individual, and provides us with a feeling of differentiation from the rest of people, while, the spirit, the soul, or our core-energy, are the principle which tells us we are all connected, we are all part of the same thing, and that separation does not exist, that in reality, it is nothing more than an illusion.
However, on a practical level, the ego is nothing more than a tool, like a software, that helps us organize different aspects of our personality so that we can function in the world, be part of it, interact in all our life situations, and develop ourselves with some ease in everything we do.
When the ego controls us
The main problem with the ego program is that takes our life’s full control without “us” (the deeper inner self) realizing it, when it shouldn’t be. The mind, the brain and its analytical systems, are always under the leadership of the ego and the subpersonality that best suits it according to the situation it must face, and this is something that was never originally planned, and that is related to the genetic manipulation suffered by the human being, because this “program” (it is the best way to be defined) that is part of our psyche since the dawn of the creation of humanity, was never endowed with leadership skills. The Ego, actually, has to be at our Higher Self’ service, and not the other way around. When this relationship works properly, the ego is a really useful intermediary representing the whole set of who we are out there in the world, but without really believing that it “is” this whole set in its entirety. When the ego is confused with the totality of our being, when its personalities 100% direct our life and we forget that it’s not the role assigned to it, it’s when we begin to have problems and disconnect from the source that really has to guide our steps.
To make us an easy image to visualize, the ego would be that “entity” that is at the mind controls, the one that manages the computer that our brain is, and helps it compute the data to obtain answers, the one that presses the dashboard keys, but would not have to take ownership of it but obey our inner self instructions. When the ego takes the command control, as it does in the majority of cases with the majority of human beings, it is when our life runs on automatic pilot, and we become and function as those “automatic machines” as said by Gurdjieff.
The ego personality
Just as the mind is not an energetic self-conscious ”entity” by itself, but a set of programs and patterns, the ego really is, as it has self-awareness. It manages multiple personalities coming from, in a way, what our energy system has accumulated during the human race years of evolution, and that are transformed into different facets and characters that come out without us wanting it or wishing it, in most cases.
This personality, composed of multiple sub-characters, is a complex array of sensations, thoughts, behaviors, fears and all kinds of emotions. Each one of us, in each and every moment of our lives, is forced to take out a part that serves us to “manage” or handle that situation in which we find ourselves. Be our hero “self”, our sage “self”, our counselor “self”, sometimes we do not realize those sub-characters that predominate strongly in us, and that emerge according to the circumstances in which they are necessary, and that, however, are only different representations of our ego, different roles that it assumes according to the situation in which we find ourselves.
The ego, as we refer to it, is not just that bit of haughtiness, selfishness, or self overvaluation that one tends to refer when someone behaves like that (what an ego this guy has, he thinks he’s the best!). No. The ego is the program that manages all our personalities. The different components created and with its own life, that exist in our mind, that handle the controls and the keyboard of our supercomputer, that stimulate certain reactions of ours: fear, hesitation, courage, etc, and that above all, has an extremely precise function: the human body survival, and with it, that of the human race as a whole. No more, no less. His only goal is that. Survive.
The ego, moreover, being a real energy entity, needs “energy“ to survive on its own, and perform its function, which is to make the human body ”survive”. The ego has to handle emotions and feelings to such an extent, that it often prefers to protect us from them so as not to confront and deal with the energy burden they entail. Besides, he needs his own food, and what is it? No more or less than our mind generated thoughts in some fear-based situations. The ego survives when it feeds on those revenge thoughts in which you visualize yourself yelling at the boss for humiliating you, and in whose “battle” you emerge victorious by leaving him in his chair down before all your colleagues’ eyes.
The ego generates such thoughts in order to be able to feed itself, because one of its parts has been hurt when you have been scolded and must take out its vengeful side. It knows you’re not really gonna do what it’d like you to, so he puts the whole situation on your mental screen, and he plays it over and over again. And how nice it feels. Each subpersonality feeds on certain emotions, and since the mind does not distinguish between something real that has happened or something imagined that has been visualized, the energy generated by the emotion is the same. The cowardly “self” feeds by imagining how you defend yourself and win in a fight with 20 skin-heads who have come to attack you, the victim “self” imagines humiliating people with whom it has felt inferior, the shy “self”imagines being everyone’s attention center, etc.
These mental projections have so much power that they feed more and more these self personalities, and, instead of making them disappear, they get more and more strength. Therefore, when you realize that you are imagining this kind of situations, theatrical performances in which you are the hero and you are playing a role that in real life you have not been able to do, you have the ego generating energy for itself. Stop the show. Move away of this nonsense. Stand. Tell the ego that’s enough. That the real world has done nothing to you and that you do not want that the use of your mental energy to re-feed itself. The ego does not have to play the role of “avenger”, “universal savior” or “humiliated victim”, the ego must execute our social role based on the instructions of the Higher Self, which will always guide us with wisdom, joy, love and peace.
And although we all have similar forms of sub-personalities, the difference is that at the same situation we do not all apply or use the same one. That’s what differentiates one person from another in the face of the same event. Nothing more and nothing less than the ego sub-character that takes control of the whole of us, and reacts in one way or another according to its probabilities calculations, expectations and confidence in its ultimate mission. All these internal and different little voices we notice into our head (or rather take over it and our actions without realizing) are the so-called “ego archetypes”, in reference to Jung’s work with humanity archetypes, with these roles and sub-characters we take, defining several “universal” roles that, according to his work, are present in most of us in one degree or another.
And it’s just that we’re a lot of personalities at once and we have a lot of masks. The fact of knowing how to recognize them when they are usurping our true personality of the soul, the inner self, is what allows us to unmask ourselves and put our Ego in its place, that is, not let it take control of who we are and do. Our ego is really a voice in our head that takes a thousand different faces, but it’s not us. Don’t confuse it and learn to recognize it, you’ll discover a whole facade that falls suddenly and shows you things from another perspective.