From the Latin for "I" and similar to the Greek Εγώ.
In religion, spirituality, mythology, and mysticism, the term ego is very different from how the word is used in the "psychoanalysis" of Freud (nineteenth century).
Spiritual psychology is the core meaning of all religious and mythological symbolism, dating back to the origins of all great civilizations. In spiritual psychology, the term ego refers to structures in the mind that trap the Consciousness (soul, Psyche, buddha nature, jiva, nephesh). Although we "feel ourselves" as the ego, the reality is that the ego is a cage that traps our true nature. That is, our true nature is "in" the ego, trapped. That is what is symbolized in all of our ancient myths.
Of key importance in spiritual psychology is the impermanence and unreliability of the ego. Our egoic "sense of self" is fleeting, subject to forces we do not and cannot control, and ultimately always leads to suffering. Thus, the wise person seeks to find a stable, reliable, beneficial foundation in their psyche, which is the free, unmodified Consciousness. To succeed in this effort requires very precise training and many years of psychological work.
The ego is a multiplicity of contradictory psychological elements that we have inside, and are in their sum the "ego." Each one is also called "an ego" or an "I." Every ego is a psychological defect that produces suffering. The ego is often symbolized as:
- three: such as in the three Furies, or the three traitors of Jesus, Chiram Abiff, Job, etc. The three traitors relate to our three brains or three centers of psychological processing
- seven: as in the seven capital sins: laziness (sloth), lust, pride, anger (hate), envy, greed (avarice), gluttony
- legion: in their infinite combinations, such as the serpents on Medusa's head, the many heads of the Hydra killed by Heracles, or the "legion" that afflicted the suffering man in the wilderness of the Christian Gospels
It is universally represented that our re-union with the Divine—which in Latin is called religare, the root of the word "religion," and in Sanskrit is called Yoga , "to unite"—is achieved through the death of the ego, that which causes the division. With this concept as a foundation, one can understand the symbolic martyrdom of the saints, the descent into the underworld, the battles with the dragons or monsters (symbols of the animalistic ego), etc. Through this psychological death, the Consciousness (or soul; i.e. Beatrice, Persephone, Helen, Sita, etc.) is freed from its cage, and liberation from suffering is achieved.
Quotes about ego
"Shun all pride and jealousy. Give up all idea of "me" and "mine".... As long as there is Consciousness of diversity and not of unity in the Self, a man ignorantly thinks of himself is a separate being, as the "doer" of actions and the "experiencer" of effects. He remains subject to birth and death, knows happiness and misery, is bound by his own deeds, good or bad." - Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.4
"In thinking, "This is I" and "That is mine," he binds himself with his self, as does a bird with a snare." - Hinduism. Maitri Upanishad 3.2
"Travelling powerless, like a bucket traveling in a well: First with the thought "I," misconceiving the self, Then, arising attachment to things with the thought "mine." - Buddhism. Candrakirti, Madhyamakavatara 3
"Put to death what is earthly in you: Fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth." - Colossians 3.5-8
"I am not, I will not be.
I have not, I will not have,"
That frightens all the childish
And extinguishes fear in the wise.
By him who speaks only to help beings,
It was said that all beings
Have arisen from the conception of I
And are enveloped with the conception of mine.
"The I exists, the mine exists."
These are wrong as ultimates,
For the two are not [established]
By a thorough Consciousness of reality just as it is.
The mental and physical aggregates arise
From the conception of I which is false in fact.
How could what is grown
From a false seed be true?
Having seen thus the aggregates as untrue,
The conception of I is abandoned,
And due to abandoning the conception of I
The aggregates arise no more.
Just as it is said
That an image of one's face is seen
Depending on a mirror
But does not really exist [as a face],
So the conception of I exists
Dependent on the aggregates,
But like the image of one's face
The I does not at all really exist.
Just as without depending on a mirror
The image of one's face is not seen,
So too the conception of I does not exist
Without depending on the aggregates.
When the Superior Ananda
Heard what this means,
He attained the eye of doctrine
And repeatedly spoke of it to monastics.
As long as the aggregates are conceived,
So long thereby does the conception of I exist.
Further, when the conception of I exists,
There is action, and from it there also is birth.
With these three pathways mutually causing each other
Without a beginning, a middle, or an end,
This wheel of cyclic existence
Turns like the wheel of a firebrand." - Buddhism. Nagarjuna, Precious Garland 26-36
"The Being and the ego are incompatible. The Being and the ego are like water and oil. They can never be mixed... The annihilation of the psychic aggregates (egos) can be made possible only by radically comprehending our errors through Meditation and by the evident Self-reflection of the Being." - Samael Aun Weor, The Gnostic Bible: The Pistis Sophia Unveiled
None of us has a true "I" that is permanent, immutable, eternal, ineffable, etc.
Indeed, none of us has a true and authentic Unity of Being. Unfortunately, we do not even possess a legitimate individuality.
Although the ego continues beyond the sepulcher, it has, nonetheless, a beginning and an end.
The ego, the "I," is never something individual, unitary, a total unity. Obviously the "I" is "I's."
In Oriental Tibet, the "I's" are called psychic aggregates, or simply positive or negative values.
If we think of each "I" as a different person, we can then emphatically state the following, "Many people exist within each person living in the world."
Unquestionably, many different persons live inside each one of us, some of them are better than others, and others are worse...
Each one of these "I's," each one of these persons, struggles for supremacy.
As often as possible, each one of these "I's" wants to be exclusive. Each one wants to control the intellectual brain or the emotional and motor centers until another substitutes it...
The Doctrine of the Many "I's" was taught in Oriental Tibet by the true clairvoyants, by the true enlightened ones...
Each of our defects is personified by one "I" or another. Since we have thousands and even millions of defects, it is obvious that many people live within our interior.
In psychological matters, we have been able to clearly verify that paranoid subjects, self-worshippers and mythomaniacs would never abandon the cult to their beloved ego for anything in the world.
Unquestionably, such people mortally hate the Doctrine of the Many "I's."
Indeed, when one wants to know oneself, one must observe himself and try to know the different "I's" which abound inside the personality. – Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
All of those multiple, quarrelsome, and noisy "I's"—which in their conjunction form the myself, the self-willed—are constituted by more or less condensed mental substance. Now you can explain for yourselves the reason why every person is constantly changing opinion. For example: we are real estate salespersons, and some clients approach; we talk to them, we convince them of the necessity of buying a beautiful residence, such fellows become enthusiastic and emphatically affirm that in fact they will buy such residence and that nothing can make them to desist from their decision. Unfortunately, after a few hours, everything changes. The opinion of the client is no longer the same, since another mental "I" is now controlling the brain, and the enthusiastic "I" that a few hours earlier was impassioned with the purchase of the property is now displaced by a new "I" that has nothing to do with such a deal nor with the given word. Thus, this is how the castle of cards falls to the ground and the wretched real estate agent feels deceived. – Samael Aun Weor, Hell, Devil, and Karma
The psychological defects are within the 49 levels of our Consciousness.
We cannot recognize or find the '"I's" or egos of the 49 subconscious levels, because each one of them has parts of themselves within our different bodies. To know them, we must appeal to a force that is superior to the mind, so that this force may disintegrate them. This force is our Divine Mother Kundalini; she will disintegrate them with her serpentine fire.
Only the Mother Kundalini of Hindu mysteries knows the 49 levels of our subconsciousness.
The studied psychological defects do not form part of our Being. This is why after having studied the psychological defect through Meditation one supplicates Ram-Io (the Mother Kundalini) to disintegrate it with the sexual energy during Sexual Super-dynamics.
We cannot get to see a defect in the mind by means of the intellect and reflection. Everyone remains stagnant there because we do not know the other seven bodies of the mind. It is there that the ego has its den. – Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
The egos from your former life (or lives previous to that) continue within your descendants.
The Monads of its past physical body have the power of reuniting atoms and molecules, and of reconstructing cells and organs; in this manner, we return to this Cellular World garbed with a new physical body.
The poor intellectual animal begins his life in this world as a simple germinal cell, subject to the swift time of the cells, and ends after about eighty years or more, loaded with memories and experiences of every kind.
It is urgent to know that a certain selection also occurs in the process of Reentry or Return.
The "I" is a sum of small "I's" and not all of those "I's" return to a new human organism. The "I" is a sum of different, diverse entities, without order of any type, and not all of those entities return to a new human organism; many of those entities are re-embodied within the bodies of horses, dogs, cats, pigs, etc. – Samael Aun Weor, The Esoteric Treatise of Hermetic Astrology
The ego is the Satan of the Bible: a collection of memories, desires, passions, hates, resentments, concupiscence, adulteries, and inheritance of family, race, nations, etc. – Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
Learn more about ego
- The Great Rebellion by Samael Aun Weor
- The Revolution of the Dialectic by Samael Aun Weor
- Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology by Samael Aun Weor