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Negative Ego

To: talk.religion.newage
From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: "Negative Ego" (9408.egotism.tn)
Date: 49940825

Quoting: |asanders@adobe.com (Alan Sanders) and |>Gordon

|> Lazaris [pronounced Luh-ZAH-riss] says that it is "negative ego" that 
|> encourages a person to think of himself as a Messiah figure...
|
|What in the world would be "positive ego," considering that the ego
|(the illusion of "I") is the source of all suffering?

The ego has become the new scapegoat for social ills.  There are many
different definitions for the word 'ego', some coming from psychological
models, some from religious.  Typically the word is used to indicate a
false (often socially-derived) self, and this is contrasted with some
sort of 'true self' (sometimes 'Self').  This psychodualism tends to
result from contrasting energies betwixt personal and social spheres.

Another meaning for 'ego' (Jungian, at least via Woodman) fixes it as
the seat of identity, strength and integrity.  Those without egos are
incapable of being responsible for their actions, instead reacting and
acting within socially-programmed behavior-schemes.

Buddhism, to which Alan Sanders may be referring when speaking of 'the
source of all suffering', does have a rather 'anti-ego' tendency, though
it is not a common assumption that 'ego is the source of all suffering'.
Indeed, it is attachment to ego or non-ego (or to anything else) which
leads us to suffer (dukkha).

The way Buddhism *does* tend to manifest anti-egoism is in its postulate
'anatman'/'anatta', or 'no-self'.  Far from being a rejection of egoism,
it is a principle which results from having examined the nature of the
manifested universe and seen what many Buddhists call its 'interdependent
origination'.  Anatman is actually best translated 'no-own-being', and
this indicates that nothing retains a consistent and isolated identity
apart from the rest of the cosmos.  That is, while the ego may in fact
exist (as a mask of the Buddha-nature), it is not permanent, nor is it 
independently real.

Many ascetic religious traditions disempower the individual through focus
upon 'the evil ego', and what this comes down to is a kind of cult-
mechanic which subsumes the person's power to that of the group, often
through the mechanism of shame, guilt or fear.  One of the best indicators
of a dangerous religious cult is that they criticize egotism and individual
thought or behavior.  This can also be seen in totalitarian political 
systems.  The two are not very different, really.

When Lazaris says 'the negative ego is what brings people to think of 
themselves as Messiah figures' he is probably speaking of the negative 
aspect of the ego, as he sees it.  There is a very human tendency to 
locate power through re-identification, and this can be very effective, 
especially within a society which portrays the individual in 
deprecatory tones.

The trap of re-identification is that, like taking too wide a step, we may
not be able to followup with the other foot, providing substance within the
glorious new identity.  This is what is called 'delusions of grandeur',
and it is a form of psychosis.  To be honest, re-identification actually
*includes* a temporary psychosis, yet if one does not step too far or if
one keeps a primary identity to ground, then the process can be very 
helpful.

'Negative ego' in this case could either be the tendency to re-identify,
which very many social organizations warn against (often wishing us to buy
their programming instead of making our own), or the tendency to step too
far, as when someone considers themselves the Messiah and proceeds to require
special treatment because of this new identification.

In fact it is quite possible to consider oneself the Messiah, though one
must come to a complete understanding of this very complex concept and
realize that the Messiah is a very special state of consciousness, and
that many people may be able to attain to it simultaneously.

tyagi nagasiva
tyagi@houseofkaos.abyss.com

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