Presentation given at ANZURA’s QLD conference
(From 606 – 1993 Nov/Dec -final issue)
Ego is a fascinating, heavily value-laden word in your culture. It is seen as a bad thing, a positively unhealthy thing, a thing to be stifled and suppressed. It has come to be identified with egotist (a conceited, boastful person; a self-interested person), rather than ego (one’s image of oneself).
In Western society, in particular, there are some decidedly unhealthy social rules which cause a lot of folks to be labelled egotists. First of all we are to be winners. At the same time as being winners, we are not allowed to congratulate ourselves, for then we are boastful and have a BAD EGO. So we are to be smug in our egos, say “oh it really wasn’t that good” (when perhaps our Thought Adjuster regards it as positively brilliant work on its part) or say “It was only luck”. Then everyone is happy. Those who regard themselves as failures do not have to feel that there might be something they could ask the winner about, or perhaps learn from, some belief that they might find benefit in discarding. And so continues stagnation of the social unit, plus heaps of self-deception. If pressure is placed too heavily on the winner to be self effacing, for fear of being accused of self importance, there is a possibility of another screwed up ego in the making.
Is ego bad? The Urantia Book appears to me to use the word “ego” as simply one’s image of oneself (Oxford Dictionary). It sees the ego as something we are always going to have, and I can appreciate this, for this is my self concept, my view of my selfhood. And so, eradicating from my mental dictionary the definition of ego as egotist, I can proceed to learn about what ego really is. The revelators can tell me. Now my ego is normal, natural and is going to be around for eternity. For a long, long time it might bear a very vague resemblance to truth, whilst I try to turn the universe upside down to fit in with my concept of self, and the universe desperately tries to enlighten me as to the reality of me- to get my selfhood and my ego looking the same. One of the dangerous ways I can wander along the pathway to illusion, is if I indulge in egotism – an inflated sense of self-importance (one of poor Judas’s problems). God will be fully aware of this state, and if I carefully examine my motives so will I be.
My ego is with me from well before my Thought Adjuster arrives. Very early in life I have developed ego into egotist – this “strong and well-unified egoistic nature” (page 1131). Thanks to Our Father, I developed this because of his gift of personality. Thanks also to His gift of personality… “very early in life the normal child begins to learn that it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (p.1131), and as a result of my first moral decision, my Thought Adjuster arrives.
Then the fun begins for my ego (which has become less egotistic), as my well intentioned, but often misdirected socializers introduce me to the cultural rules so that I become a good social animal, and I adopt practices which win the applause of those around, but deeply disturb my innate moral sense. And so I pander to their ego to ensure that my ego stays nice and unruffled. And in the midst of this melee is my Thought Adjuster trying to get through the concept of altruism.
If this concept comes through in the midst of a social environment which indoctrinates me to believe that my role in life is to ensure others’ pleasure, then there is a BIG problem. My ego -self concept says there should be no me in my life.
… the growing child fails of personality unification, the altruistic drive may become so overdeveloped as to work serious injury to the welfare of the self. A misguided conscience can become responsible for much conflict, worry, sorrow, and no end of human unhappiness. [Paper 103:2.10, page 1132.0]
That is, my ego is not egotistic enough. From personal experience I could tell some interesting stories on the hard work that has to be done by a Thought Adjuster in this most unfortunate circumstance.
However, this story is about a more balanced ego which, rightfully and healthily, recognizes that the personality given to us by God is so that we can grow to be well balanced little God kids.
Out into the world I go desiring to be moral and altruistic, and my dear ego gets worried by the problems I confront in trying to ensure the greatest good for me and others, and my
…interpretation of these early conflicts between the ego-will and the other-than-self-will is not always dependable. Only a fairly well unified personality can arbitrate the multiform contentions of the ego cravings and the budding social consciousness. The self has rights as well as one’s neighbors. Neither has exclusive claims upon the attention and service of the individual. Failure to resolve this problem gives origin to the earliest type of human guilt feelings. [Paper 103:5.4, page 1134.2]
Not having a well-unified personality, I know a good deal about guilt also, and it is a relief to discover that this guilt is all very natural and normal for a growing God kid to feel:
Every human being very early experiences something of a conflict between his self-seeking and his altruistic impulses, and many times the first experience of God-consciousness may be attained as the result of seeking for superhuman help in the task of resolving such moral conflicts. [Paper 103:2.4, page 1131.3]
Be that as it may:
Human happiness is achieved only when the ego desire of the self and the altruistic urge of the higher self (divine spirit) are co-ordinated and reconciled by the unified will of the integrating and supervising personality. The mind of evolutionary man is ever confronted with the intricate problem of refereeing the contest between the natural expansion of emotional impulses and the moral growth of unselfish urges predicated on spiritual insight – genuine religious reflection. [Paper 103:5.5, page 1134.3]
And so I battle onwards striving to reach this wondrous state of human happiness, knowing that when I reach it I will not have a clue as to how I found it. Not to worry, My Thought Adjuster has had a long, hard path to traverse, and fully knows the way. And I am darned sure, I don’t want to retrace my steps. I do so want a healthy ego, one which reduces
…the conflict of the self-seeking ego with the altruistic urge of the indwelling spirit Monitor.[Paper 103:4.1, page 1133.1]
Now an interesting thing I discovered in The Urantia Book (one of billions), is that I am regarded as being made up of different egos – a praying one, an alter one, a religious one and a self-one, probably an effective way of separating the potential wheat from the chaff.
The religious ego can be a problem. This is the one that can potentially get me into a self image as a Divine Messenger (in capital letters) if I get too carried away. The secret to keep this religious ego in balance, if I feel I am a “religious genius” is (you guessed it) the model of Jesus.
He was not unfavorably affected in his practical life by his extraordinary faith and spirit attainment because this spiritual exaltation was a wholly unconscious and spontaneous soul expression of his personal experience with God [Paper 196:0.6, page 2088.2]
So if I think I am a religious genius there is a good chance that I am not, particularly if I also feel my calling is to “save the world”.
The praying ego is a nice ego
Prayer has always indicated positive action by the praying ego; it has been always psychic and sometimes spiritual [Paper 91:2.2, page 995.7]
I must do some different praying other than “God give me strength”, or “Look, could you fix up everyone around me so my life can be easier”. I suspect that I have a lot to learn from Jesus on praying (there is a fabulous account of how Jesus prayed on page 2088).
And then there is the alter ego. This is another nice ego, highly recommended for praying.
Enlightened prayer must recognize not only an external and personal God but also an internal and impersonal Divinity, the indwelling Adjuster. It is altogether fitting that man, when he prays, should strive to grasp the concept of the Universal Father on Paradise; but the more effective technique for most practical purposes will be to revert to the concept of a near-by alter ego, just as the primitive mind was wont to do, and then to recognize that the idea of this alter ego has evolved from a mere fiction to the truth of God’s indwelling mortal man in the factual presence of the Adjuster so that man can talk face to face, as it were, with a real and genuine and divine alter ego that indwells him and is the very presence and essence of the living God, the Universal Father. [ Paper 91:3.7, page 997.5]
And if you can incorporate into your praying a little worship this:… transcends all other such practices since it leads to the cultivation of divine ideals. As the concept of the alter ego of prayer becomes supreme and divine, so are man’s ideals accordingly elevated from mere human toward supernal and divine levels, and the result of all such praying is the enhancement of human character and the profound unification of human personality. [Paper 91:5.1, page 998.4]
I believe that the most effective technique to ensure that my ego does not become egotistic in appearance, is to remember that God is personally present inside me (via the Thought Adjuster).
Let the world hail me as it chooses – altruistic, an ego maniac or anywhere in between. I know exactly what I am – a dear little God-child trying to so honestly to grow, whilst recognising fully my animal heritage. If I am seen as good, or feel good, I have no doubt where the credit lies – to God. To my self-concept, the me-ego, this causes no concern of credit wrongly placed. For God and I are in an inseparable partnership.
My pure desire is to have God and me so close that we think, feel and are alike. One day, I know, thanks to God, I will reach this state of unbroken awareness.
So if I have a silly, non-reality based thought like how truly smart and good and brilliant I am for having followed my Thought Adjuster’s advice so brilliantly (i.e. magnifying my self-importance) …
… if we stop to contemplate the infinity of the greatness and grandeur of our Makers, our own self-glorification becomes sublimely ridiculous, even verging on the humorous. One of the functions of humor is to help all of us take ourselves less seriously. Humour is the divine antidote for exaltation of ego. [Paper 48:4.15, page 549.2]