What is the endgame of being human? Where are we all heading? What’s the point of life? Our goal is always one thing: to become our Real Self. All the many teachings from the Pathwork Guide are approaching this same task, each coming at it from a different angle. As we work in this direction, it will help if we understand how our inner self, or Real Self, differs from our outer self, or ego. What is the relationship between these two? For many of us, having heard various conflicting theories, we’re in confusion about the function of the ego.
Some postulate the ego is essentially negative and therefore undesirable. So then the goal of spirituality is to get rid of it, right? Other theories—particularly from a psychological point of view—say our ego is important, for we cannot be mentally healthy without an ego.
Which of these viewpoints is correct? Let’s find out. For if our vision on this is not clear, it will be difficult to reach our all-important goal of self-realization.
First, let’s clarify the Real Self and its essence. This is our inner self and it is an integral aspect of nature. As such, we are bound to the laws of nature. And nature is something we can trust. It’s not reasonable then, to not trust ourselves—to not trust our innermost selves. If it seems to us that nature is our enemy, this is only because we don’t understand the natural laws that nature is following.
So our inner self is nature. Our Real Self is life. We are creation. This is a better way to say it than to say we are “a part” of nature, or part of creation. Our Real Self and nature are one and the same thing.
Whenever we function from our Real Self, we are in truth and we are joyful. Our most constructive and creative contributions to life arise from our inner self. So everything that expands life—everything wise and beautiful and generous—comes from here. This is worth contemplating, as it cannot be emphasized too much. It’s essential we understand this truth, not only with our mind—we need to feel this.
If this is so, then what is the function of our outer personality—our ego? This is the part of us that operates on a level we have direct access to. Since we are directly, or consciously, aware of our ego, this is our conscious awareness. This is the part of us that thinks, acts, sorts and makes decisions.
If we have a weak ego, we’ll have a hard time coping with life. If we have an overgrown ego, we’ll be lost from our Real Self. In other words, both extremes of ego-weakness and ego-inflation will result in separation from our inner essence. And this essentially is our problem. All our conflicts in life stem from having too big an ego, or too small an ego.
Most often, it’s not that one person has a big ego and another has too small an ego. Rather, it's that both have an imbalance within themselves. We’re underdeveloped in one area of our personality and overdeveloped in another. So nature will take its course and try to reestablish a balance. Overdevelopment of our ego, then, may be nature’s way of straightening out the disturbance caused by having a weak ego in another area of our lives.
Listen and learn more.
Read this chapter online: The Function of the Ego in Relationship to the Real Self