I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where ten of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Conrad The Old Fossil. The nine other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!
I have a sneaking suspicion that TOF is planning on becoming a Swami. Otherwise why would he choose this topic?
The word ego is now used mostly in a negative way to denote something not quite nice to have. I try not to.
Ego is defined as follows by the Free online dictionary.
1. the self of an individual person; the conscious subject
2. (Psychoanalysis) the conscious mind, based on perception of the environment from birth onwards: responsible for modifying the antisocial instincts of the id and itself modified by the conscience (superego)
3. one’s image of oneself; morale to boost one’s ego
4. egotism; conceit.
These are all valid and are used in various contexts in the physical realm, and the word is more often misused in the spiritual tradition where the word ego is used instead of Ahankara which is the correct Sanskrit word for that part of the personality which is responsible for the sense of I, Me, Mine etc and also for the sense of doership.
In the Advaita system, Ahankara is actually the state of ignorance of one’s true self. Let me explain.
Logically, the body, mind and intellect are all objects that the subject “I” can objectify. Similarly the Ahankara is also objectified by the self, and the quest is to identify and abide in the self that is the I, and leave the mind-body-intellect-ego complex to perform its functions assigned for it during this life.
In that abidance, which is called consciousness, ego is simply another object, ie a non reality and therefore not worth praising or condemning.
Carl Jung was among those early seekers to answers for questions of the psyche from the Eastern traditions, who identified as the I as being consciousness and also famously propagated the idea of collective consciousness, which is the concept of Atma and Paramatma which is the Witness to the Ego’s manipulations.
Oddly enough the more scientists delve into the physical matter, the more they are becoming aware that there is no matter and are beginning to look for answers in the spiritual and holistic sense.
For those who are interested to explore this further, a good source will be Fritjof Capra and Carl Jung.