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Ego Defense

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Ego Defense?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Ego Defense

Becoming Embroiled in Negative States

The second defense normally employed against the state of deficiency is negative merging. The individual avoids the feeling of helplessness and impotence by becoming embroiled in all kinds of negative states and interactions; thus he also avoids feeling separate and alone. The negative merging is a way to feel contact and union with another -- unconsciously the mother -- and hence supported.

Defending Consciously and Intentionally Against the Superego

The ego automatically and unconsciously responds to the superego with repression of parts of the personality, to defend itself against its painful attacks. An effective way to deal with the superego is to learn to defend against its attacks in a different way, without having to use repression and the other unconscious defense mechanisms of the ego. The method has to be conscious and intentional in contrast to the habitual automatic ways that can only foster unconsciousness. Learning how to defend consciously and intentionally against the superego and its attacks is learning a whole understanding and a whole inner technology.

Defense is Nothing but Hiding a Certain Truth of Experience

Seeing that a necessary requirement for objectivity, which is usually considered a mental quality, is pure love of truth, which is a heart quality, we observe the organic interrelation between the various aspects of Essence. It is interesting to remember that the beginning of ego has a defensive character, and defense is nothing but hiding a certain truth of experience. So the requirement for inner realization is the converse of the most basic characteristic of the ego; defense and resistance are the enemies of truth, and love is its ally. The love for truth, which reverses the attitude of defense, leads directly to the truth of experience, the truth that was defended against. And, as we already know, it is this truth that is the nutrient for the development of the Personal Essence. This indicates that when the heart loves truth it is approaching the specific nutrition needed for the essential person. So we can say, although it is only a conceptualization, that the heart loves the Personal Essence and its development. This again shows the organic interrelation between the aspects of Essence. These perceptions can go on forever, the understanding becoming more precise and more specific, reflecting the functioning of the Diamond Consciousness.

Defensive Suspiciousness

Our defensive suspiciousness manifests in suspecting the motivations of those we are in relationship with -- our friends, lovers, spouses, bosses, co-workers, even teachers. You might suspect the reason your teacher appears to be there for you, or you might question whether he or she even has the capacity to be there. Defensive suspiciousness is based on cynicism, the belief that either there isn't anything essential in a person, or if there is, it isn't available to you. This is not healthy skepticism, in which you don't know something and want to find out what is true. Healthy skepticism is an openness, not the invalidating, angry, and attacking, doubtful quality of this form of reactivity. What ultimately needs to happen is for each of us to develop faith in ourselves, which means having faith in human nature. When we have that, we can't help but have faith in all human beings. This does not mean blind trust. It means that you know for sure that every human being has an essential nature, even though it might be buried and a person might the acting out of ignorance or cynicism. It means that you give the other person a chance, that you allow the possibility that she can be kind and selfless, even though she doesn't always act that way. It means that you know that such a quality exists in her and in you.

Facets of Unity, pg. 244

Ego Defense of Grandiosity

One of the main ego defenses against the state of inadequacy is that of grandiosity... One comes to believe, and to behave as if, one has no such inadequacy. The defense is not only that one is not inadequate, but that one is the best, strongest, most able. One feels one can do anything. This defense is a complete denial of the state of inadequacy through a reaction formation, which is usually called the grandiose self, or a grandiose belief about one's omnipotence.

Interdependence Between Ego and Being

This interdependence between ego and Being can also be seen in the process of inner metabolism. Ego on its own cannot complete the metabolism of experience and hence cannot bring about complete human development; Being is needed for this process to take place. On the other hand, Being cannot accomplish on its own the whole process of metabolism; it cannot dislodge ego when ego is defensive. From the perspective of the mind, Being can be resisted easily with a slight movement of ego; thus ego must first cooperate by relinquishing its defensive posture. It is up to ego to cease resisting. When it ceases its defensive posture completely, then Being acts. This is an important understanding for methods of inner realization. The work on purifying or understanding ego will not lead, by itself, to transformation. Being by itself cannot do it either. The work must be done from both directions—the letting go of ego defenses and the development of Essence.

Schizoid Defense of Isolation and Withdrawal

Another defense against inadequacy, less common than the above two, but related to them, is the schizoid defense of isolation and withdrawal. The inadequacy is sometimes experienced as an incapacity to interact with others, to engage in human object relations. One feels too inadequate and deficient to make contact. Then one defends oneself against this deficiency in relating by abandoning inter-personal relations altogether.

The More Developed Ego is Less Defensive

As long as an ego structure is used for defense it acts as a barrier against the experience of the Personal Essence. This point brings us closer to understanding what might be the factor contributing to maturity. It has to do with the fact that when ego becomes more developed and rounded it becomes also less defensive.

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