Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Ego Life
Egoic Life Constitutes an Attempt to Turn the Soul Into a Machine
Hence, egoic life constitutes an attempt to turn the soul into a machine, a closed and relatively isolated system. The rigidity and fixity of the ego-self point to how the soul has become mechanical and isolated, and explains the primary reasons for its lack of vibrant living unfoldment. Furthermore, the second law of thermodynamics will impel the rigidly structured soul toward entropy, toward less order, more disorganization, and hence ultimately toward disintegration. This accounts for the continual suffering of ego life, and its hopeless and incessant attempts at balancing itself. Egoic life is bound to lead toward disorganization and breakdown, not renewal and evolution.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 558
Inner Work is About Liberating the Autopoietic Function of the Soul
We see that egoic life basically does not respect the autopoietic nature of the soul; it tends to make the open, living system that is the soul into a closed and isolated one, more like a machine. The difference between the egoic and the essential life is not absolute, for the soul cannot become completely a machine. She is inherently an open and dynamic system, and hence rigid ego structuring only limits this openness and constrains her dynamism; it cannot completely eliminate them. When the soul is extremely closed and isolated, she will generally move toward breakdown and disorganization. More accurately, the more rigid and fixed is the ego structuring of the soul, the more she will be subject to the second law of thermodynamics. In contrast, greater self-organization and autonomy are the natural outcome of dissipative autopoiesis, with its dynamic self-renewal. Therefore, inner work is a matter of liberating and expanding the autopoietic function of the soul, optimizing her capacity for self-renewal. This freedom is a central part of liberating the soul's creative dynamism.
The Inner Journey Home, pg. 559
Narcissism is a Basic Element of Ego Life
Narcissism is a very general, basic element of ego life. The self of the average individual is deeply and fundamentally narcissistic. The complete resolution of narcissism will elude us until the achievement of self-realization. All that conventional psychotherapy can do is alleviate symptoms resulting from severe disturbances of narcissism, and, when successful, can help the individual to reach the level of the narcissism of everyday life. To proceed further and address this fundamental narcissism, only spiritual development will make a real difference. We also believe that understanding the spiritual nature of the self can help us to understand even the severe forms of narcissistic disturbance. This perspective can help us to see that we cannot separate our psychology from our spirituality, our psyche from our spirit, for we are fundamentally whole. Our self is one self, and cannot be dichotomized into a spiritual or “higher” self and a psychical or psychophysical self.
The Point of Existence, pg. 46
The Primary Root of All Ego Life
This brings us to the necessity of examining the primary root of the ego, of all ego life, which is ignorance. Just as we need to be aware of the specific manifestations that make it difficult for us to be real, to be ourselves, we need to see the contribution of our ignorance to this situation. When we discover how ignorance underlies all these inner activities and related attitudes, we realize that it is the fundamental impediment to being where we are. Without ignorance, it would be difficult to continue these activities. That’s because as ignorance dissolves, insight and self-knowledge arise. We need to be clear about how our ignorance operates so that as it transforms, we can understand how it becomes insight, clarity, knowledge, and the recognition of the truth of a situation. Enlightenment means waking up to reality, recognizing it as it really is and being there with it as it is. That is why enlightenment is usually understood as self-knowledge, self-realization, illumination, clarity.
The Unfolding Now, pg. 113
Three Supports of the Ego Life
All obstacles to being ourselves can be divided into three categories: ignorance, desire, and aggression. These major categories are known in many spiritual traditions. They are called the three primary poisons or the three primary roots. Many obstacles can be placed in more than one category. Most obstacles, including those we have explored so far—meddling, resistance, and defense—are a combination of all three. In reality, all three categories are facets of the same thing: they are the three supports of the ego-self, which you can also call the ego life or ego experience.