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There is a lot of talk about ego in certain spiritual circles, referring to it as the enemy of enlightenment. I believe this is a huge misunderstanding of the true nature of life and our purpose as human beings. I tried for 40 years to get rid of my ego to no avail, because, I am finally learning, it is an important part of our inner, divinely designed structure. It cannot be “killed.” The truth is that people who do not have healthy egos are either very beaten down anxiety riddled souls who project their negativity all over the world, or they have spiritualized their egos to the extent they think they are everybody and everything.

The former confusion may come from believing any sense of self is selfishness. The latter confusion often comes because on our highest level of Pure Being there is only God, only One being, and some people sense this within them. But this Being is Selfless, so no one can ever really say, I am that One because that would be a subtle ego identity, or spiritualized sense of self projected on the selfless.

The infinite is, well infinite, and we are specific children of that Great Ocean of Oneness. In a sense, we are God’s identity. We each bear a unique glimmer of God’s Great Soul. The Selfless knows itself through our Love for that free One. It is we who color the transparent face of God with the beauty of our Love born beliefs and devotion to that limitless Love.

We all need a healthy ego that is neither our spiritual enemy nor our false god. But what is ego really? Let’s be very clear about it.

The dictionary defines ego first like this: The individual self, as distinct from the outside world and other selves.

A baby naturally develops its ego very early. This is it awakening sense that I am not my mother, that though I was a growth in her body now I am born, I am distinct, I have a unique self. God designed the development of ego. It is an essential part of us. Without it, we cannot stand up, explore, make distinctions, reach for the stars.

The next definition is: Somebody’s idea of his or her own importance or worth.

Our healthy ego is meant to develop a sense of the worth of being a unique being. In a healthy society each child would be appreciated and praised for its uniqueness and tremendous potential as well as inspired through developing relationships with a sense of the bigger unity we are all part of. It is an instinct of Love to give appreciation to others, to praise them for their value to us and others. In a Love based society receiving the appreciation and praise of others would be just as important as giving it, because how can people express their Love if everyone else is afraid to freely accept it?

On the negative side ego is defined as: an exaggerated sense of your own importance and a feeling of superiority to other people.

To use one word for two very different inner dynamics is very confusing. We need to draw a clear distinction between healthy and unhealthy ego. Let’s look a bit more at the healthy ego.

In a real sense, ego is an accumulation of ideas and feelings about ourselves. A healthy ego has a sense of what our interests, focus, talents, commitments, and work have made us. I am a writer for sure because I have spent thousands of hours over many years writing. I am also a poet because this is a gift of inspiration God has given me that I have responded to by giving my attention and time to do something with it. And I could go on with a list of the things I have given time and attention to in my life and developed enough skill to have an identity with it.

All together, this is me, or at least a part of me. There are also my dreams, interests, values, priorities, attitudes, intentions: these are all parts of my character and character is a unique creation. There is no other character exactly like me — or you. This uniqueness of each of us is a very beautiful part of the greater glory of God.

I am convinced that God loves stories. We are all stories. Our unique life story naturally has a sense of ego, or self-identity with it. The “Book of Life” mentioned in the Bible and other sacred writings is a book of stories. Near Death Experiences repeatedly state that the first thing that happens in the higher worlds is we see our life story played back, every detail from every angle: not only our experiences but how they were affecting the experience of others: story influencing other stories. To transform a story of selfishness to a story of Love is our highest purpose: but we must know selfishness to transform it.

Selfishness is the shadow side of ego: it is a Love-starved sense of self, a lonely insecurity, a black hole of neediness. It can become obsessed with trying to fix itself. It may acquire delusions of grandeur and imagine it is greater than all others. Or it may believe that because it is so worthless it is the humblest of all creatures, a kind of delusion of grandeur in reverse. It is always so absorbed in its own self-centered dynamics that it cannot sense the deeper beauty and worth of others.

It surrounds itself with defense mechanisms, usually of projecting its negativity on others and blaming them for its own miseries. It demands perfection. It is critical of what it perceives as faults in others. It is perpetually stressed and naturally creates stress for others. It is a self-perpetuating state of misery.

As I see it, healthy ego is not our enemy: it is this shadow side, this negative nature. We need two distinct names for two distinct natures. The old terms of godliness and sin have become incrusted with too may connotations, many of them imbalanced and unhealthy. I have used egoism for the negative nature but perhaps that is too close to ego and may cause confusion.

Selfishness seems like a good word. It is simple, direct and everyone basically can relate to it. We have probably all felt quite clearly the constrictive and even malicious nature of our own selfishness.

Selfishness always creates unhappiness and is marked by a real unconcern for the happiness of others. It has this big shadow of “I don’t give a damn about them” that is part of the anger and self-sabotaging side of its grief. There is an inner dulling of our natural sensitivities to the souls of others and our deepest instinct to bring positive energy to them, to see them bloom open in the light of happiness that makes them fully alive. In other words, the selfish nature is in total opposition to the free flowing, creative, life-giving, joyous, beauty making nature of real Love.

In real Love we can pay attention to own true needs without being selfish at all. Love yourself or you will never truly Love others seems like a real law of Life. It is for sure that no one can make you happy if something within you will not allow yourself to be loved and happy. By being very loving and kind with your own soul, taking time to open up and wash it with spiritual Love, you allow it to come to rest and out of this rest to spontaneously share joy and Love with others.


Ego is simply self-identity. A healthy ego identifies with personal interests, experiences, relationships, desires and skills, but in Love thins out into the mist of mystery and disappears over the horizons of Light.

Selfishness is self imprisioned: a sense of self that seeks only its own good while remaining unaware of others. It clings to itself in deathly fear of death, being wholly anti-Life, anti-good and anti- happiness.

May we all have a healthy ego, flowing with Love, tenderly open to our deeper Light, working with our entire soul to transform selfishness into kindness and joy for the sake of a healthier, happier world.

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