First of all, let me apologize for the relative paucity of posts – this is the first one in about two months. I have had some health issues, but they are being resolved, and I anticipate a full recovery in not too long. I intend to use this time for revamping my diet and other routines so that I can avoid a decrepit last few decades of human life before I move on to the next stage, so it’s not entirely a bad thing. Sadly, it’s also another opportunity to see, first hand, how ridiculous our public health system is, but happily, I do not have to rely on my GP but see a first rate practitioner of orthomolecular medicine who costs extra but really knows his stuff.
If you follow my blog, you know how I feel about the human ego. I do not subscribe to the New Age (and other spiritual traditions) fondness for the egoless state. It’s unhealthy and impossible to achieve.
The ego is a wily beast: try to push it down and pretend you’ve gotten rid of it, and it simply finds tricky ways to reassert itself. I have actually heard people brag about how humble they are!
Of course, the opposite approach, allowing the ego to dominate your life, is just as harmful, and will probably make you – pardon me – a real asshole.
The best thing is to realize that the ego has its rightful place as a locus of consciousness, free will, and so, and to allow it do its job. Even the decision to try to be more humble is a choice and thus a function of ego, after all.
The trick, I think, is realize that there are other components to your psyche and to give them their due also. The names we give them may differ, but we need to give our “higher” nature some scope, as well as our “lower”. Do something selfless and reward yourself with a nice glass of whatever (for instance). I use that example lightheartedly, but also for the grain of truth it contains.
For me, there is one activity that guarantees a balanced, and yes, more humble psyche: being a minister of communion at my church.
It is something that I have chosen to do, so my ego must have bought into it on some level, and my “higher” self certainly feels good about it. I love that my only function, my entire reason for being there is to serve others, but it is not a denial of self so much as it is a choice to engage my self in that fashion. I love seeing the faces of people, people I might never talk to, coming up, all different types (teens, seniors, children, alcoholics, athletes, tradesmen . . .) all wanting to be in closer communion with God, and knowing that my whole reason (indeed my only reason) for being there is to help facilitate it.
Service is beautiful and liberating, and it serves as a powerful counterweight to the potential abuses of the ego. Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be the servant of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Imagine, God, having a sure sense of who He is (ego) came to earth to serve, not through a denial of His own ego, but by choosing, through that ego (or sense of self), to dedicate Himself to something that He considered to be even greater.
Surely, a role model worth trusting.