The ego: a soul in a cramp

ego balloon

Every spiritual reality can be described in many different ways. I often write about the necessity of ego removal, for example, and I always describe how it implies that we should get rid of egoism and egocentrism in our lives. But just as well I could describe this principle as the necessity to 'untangle' the soul. For the ego is not a seperate entity that suddenly 'overtakes us' or 'gets a hold of us' and like a little inner devil attaches our existence to temptation and desire. The ego isn't an 'evil inner spirit' that tries to blind or limit our 'good soul' as much as it can. On the contrary the ego stems from the soul – the two are fundamentally connected with each other.

So we should be careful that our choice of words and images does not evoke a false dichotomy and gives us the wrong impression that we should completely eradicate our 'self' and enlarge some undefined soul as much as we can.

In the Bhagavad-Gita however, Krishna speaks of the 'Higher Self' that should be liberated of the illusions which the 'lower self' invokes in us. For the lower self is the inner whisper that tells us that possession, power and status are more important than trust, devotion and love. Such a manner of phrasing does easily bring about an explicit duality, but, those that read the words of Krishna should also realise that the lower self is not the absolute counterpart of the Higher Self. In fact, the lower self is just as much the Self as the Higher self. Yet the lower self is a soul that keeps itself imprisoned in the pointless walls of preconceptions, fears and frustrations, illusions and greed. And a Higher Self is a soul that lets the true flow of existence flow freely.

The ego therefore isn't a combination of 'primitive urges' that we should eradicate completely in order to only keep a soul devoid of every wish, passion, urge or desire. An egoless soul on the contrary is a self that experiences his desires in beauty and doesn't become anxious, depressive or violent when they do not get fulfilled or take another form than initially expected. So there is nothing wrong with longing for someone, but when it becomes an obsessive desire, it limits and impedes the possibility of a healthy relationship. At such a moment the egoistic self demands an answer instead of offering freedom.

There is nothing wrong with a search for personal happiness, but when self-interest becomes the constant focus, one will quickly hurt others. At such a moment the egocentric self becomes blind for the injustice it creates instead of striving for balance and harmony.

There is nothing wrong with possession, but not being able to let go when something had its time, brings inner unrest. At such a moment the greedy self becomes ever more uncertain about life instead of trusting in what God provides.

The ego thus is nothing but a soul in a cramp and all we have to do is relax and offer the soul some more space.

That's why it's a deep urge of the soul to love, but it cramps and becomes what we call 'ego' when we suffocate loved ones, friends and family in anxious attempts to keep them all to ourselves. It's an urge of the soul to surround oneself with beauty, but it cramps and becomes what we call 'ego' when we deny others that very same beauty in order to make sure that we can fulfil as much of our personal desires as possible.

In short: the longing of the soul sometimes turns into the infinite wanting and the need to shine becomes a narrow me-focus.

The freedom of the soul is therefore (re)discovered when the infinte wanting is relaxed and the deeper desire is faced. The beauty of the soul is (re)discovered when the narrow me-focus is relaxed and spontaneaity is trusted once again.

Hence, our 'higher' and 'lower' self aren't two seperate beings in one person. The Higher Self and the lower self are but two ways of dealing with our personality: the one who lives from his ego, lives purely within himself and the one who lives from the soul, lives in love.

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