The Ego by Marcus Antebi
People are sometimes confused about what the “ego” actually is.
The literal (dictionary) definition is as follows:
- A person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
- The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.
The word ego is Latin for “I.”
Ego, then, is a word that describes the self, or you. To think about the meaning of ego, you have to look at it from three different perspectives; a psychological perspective, a philosophical perspective, and a metaphysical and esoteric perspective (from the spiritual implication of the word).
Psychologically, the unique person that makes you “you” is the ego. The ego is something that is formed and developed from the moment we are born: It is a collection of our personality traits, and it encompasses all of our memories.
The ego is similar to the tip of an iceberg floating on the surface of the ocean. To an observer it seems to be all that is. But beneath the ocean is the real mass of that iceberg. The ego is like the tip of that iceberg—it is the thing we most prominently see, but below the surface of common reality there is a much larger form attached to us: Consciousness! No matter what you do, as long as you take the form of a human being and you are alive then your ego will be a part of your journey.
The reason why the concept of the ego is confusing is because when people hear the word ego they think it’s describing a person who’s a braggadocious person. The word for such a person is egotistical or egoistic.
So, sometimes the word ego is used to describe a person who is full of themselves or self-centered. But this does not describe the ego well, because self-centeredness or braggadociousness are really personality traits: They’re not the ego per se. They are things that make up the ego—components of the ego—but not the ego itself.
From a philosophical perspective, the mysterious thing about the ego is that it really isn’t a form, or a shape, or an energy. It’s the sum total of all of your traits, something like a photo album; it’s a record of your journey.
The ingredients that go into making up the ego include energy fields and electrical circuitry. The important thing to understand about the ego is not so much what its purpose is or why it forms in the first place. It forms because of all the experiences that we have in this body and the fact that we have consciousness. These are the two main catalysts of the ego: Experiences and consciousness.
From a spiritual point of view, there are certain spiritual systems that believe the ego in this present life is affected by the activities that occurred in the past life of the soul. That could be true, or it may just be a story. It’s not debatable because it can’t be either proven or disproven.
The Aborigines of Australia describe the components of a given life in the following manner:
You are composed of two components. One is the earthly body. It is made up of all of the elements of the universe, and it borrows from all of the components on this planet. And when you die to return the favor, the body returns all the elements back into the earth.
The second component is the ego. The Aborigines refer to the ego as ‘the trickster,’ as the ego is capable of causing such havoc.
Psychology reveals that the ego naturally wants to live forever. This being the case, it naturally struggles with the idea of an end, so it forms all kinds of attachments and it clings to different entities. It attaches to people, places, things, and ideas. The last component of our lives is the soul. When we die some believe that the soul is set free and returns to a collective of sorts.
The least mysterious entity is the human body. We can observe it and understand how life is formed, and how it moves in shifts and changes and dies.
The consciousness or the soul of a living creature is the most mysterious entity. Does anyone truly know the source of consciousness? Is consciousness split between all creatures, or is it one thing just living out some incredible learning existence through all the creatures at once while collecting data to feed that data back to the Divine? Who can answer? Well, the ego tries to answer all those questions.
Maybe the purpose of the ego in a human being is to stare at things and wonder. After all, the soul is totally knowing and the body could care less. But the ego wants to know, “Who am I?” The ego is the thing that competes and strives. The ego is the thing that is expanding and learning. Inversely, the ego can be the thing that’s contracting and frozen in time. The ego of a person is compelled to do good or bad things.
Our consciousness is partially asleep, totally asleep, or fully awake based on the direction the ego leads the thoughts and actions in. For consciousness to fully awaken, the ego must be in control and at peace.
Spiritually, the ego is an important part of a person’s journey. Each ego is completely unique, therefore each ego returns a totally different set of lessons back into a collective for these lessons to be disseminated and to be absorbed.
Absorption of all lessons is what keeps things expanding and progressing. It would not be a good thing if you completely dissolved your ego. You would be similar to a rock but animated; no personality, no color, no joy, no sadness. It’s unlikely that you’d even have the will to live.
The ego nudges us through life. Your ego deserves a seat at the table of your consciousness. It has a voice, and it is precious. You need it to keep yourself in check and to have guidance as you move along on your journey.