Is the ego a colossal mistake?

Is the ego a colossal mistake? Most spiritual teachings say so. They consider the ego an enemy, an illusion, some weed that has to be torn out, or a side of you that is fundamentally wrong and needs to be conquered.

The Diamond Approach does not. The Diamond Approach maintains that the ego is a state of an arrested or halted development of a process towards being the personal essence. That process has come to a stop or has slowed down tremendously. The personal essence is that part of you that can function in the world from essence instead of from your ego.

This is how A.H Almaas describes this question of the status of the ego in his book about the personal essence, called The Pearl beyond Price. 

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“Many people, of course, believe just that: that the life of the world is antithetical to the life of spirit and truth. In fact, most of the great teachers have stressed that the life of the world is not the religious or the true life. But let us not hasten to conclusions.

It is possible, of course, that the majority of humankind are astray, are on the wrong path to human fulfillment. However, this does not explain why they are all on the same path! Why is it that all humans are pursuing personal happiness, wanting to lead a personal life where self and individuality are valued and cherished? In other words, if the ultimate goal of the human being is the universal impersonal truths of Spirit, why is it that all humans end up with an ego, with a self and a personality? Can it be just a mistake, a colossal mistake? And if it is, then why is it made so universally?

In this book, our interest is to understand the nature of the human being in a comprehensive way, a way that makes sense of the normal experience of most individuals while retaining the deepest insights into human nature, as seen in the most profound spiritual discoveries of mankind. We will introduce an understanding about human nature by contrasting the view of the man of the world, the usual perspective of most people who take the person and the personal life to be the center of human nature and concern, with the view of the man of spirit, the spiritual perspective of most religions that man’s nature is ultimately spiritual, and human life must be governed by selflessness and egolessness.

The most extreme position of this latter perspective is that self and individuality do not have an ultimate or real existence. This extreme position, although not shared by many spiritual groups, nevertheless remains a common and central contention for the most advanced teachings of most spiritual traditions, especially the mystical ones.

More specifically, we will contrast the experience of most people that they are separate individuals, entities in their own right, with the contention of many spiritual traditions that the ultimate reality is a state of oneness of being and unity of existence, and explore the relationship between the two.”

The Pearl beyond Price describes how using the psychological approaches of object relations theory and ego psychology, combined with teachings on qualities of Being and essence, gets the halted development going again all the way to the integration of the personal essence. The description is so detailed that you understand that it is not just a synthesis of the psychological with the spiritual, but that this teaching comes from a source where the two are actually one.

4 thoughts on “Is the ego a colossal mistake?

  1. 1. In my experience so far in the Ridhwanschool, however the “ego-life” is not considered to be a huge mistake, the spiritual perspective and personal essence are valued much more then ego-life.
    In the teachings there seems to be a movement “away” from ego-life. Away from “living in the past or future”. Better to live in the moment.
    Teachers do sometimes emphasize that nothing is wrong with having an ego, but most teachings are directed towards a not-self oriented life.
    So still the expectation is “feeded” that living a life with less ego is a better life.
    2. In my own experience, and in many inquiries, i have been struggling with the expectation that moving away from ego-life and living more my personal essence would give my life less problems……
    Actually seeing this and not trying to get rid of my ego brought me more acceptance and peaceful moments then anything else!
    Sorrow, pain, suffering is part of life, wether it is ego-life or essential beingness.

    • Thanks Kees, for your post. I agree there can be a tendency in the teachings to picture the ego life as something to be overcome to get to the life of essence. And that this implicitly gives the message that there is something wrong with the ego life, so people will – sometimes unconsciously – try to go somewhere else. This is in contradiction with the basic rule of inquiry, which is to be and welcome where you are.

      Not doing that, but trying to get to essence by going away from ego will often involve some kind of splitting which is contrary to the integration of the Personal essence. There is indeed nothing wrong with the ego, and at least some suffering is part of human life. Nice to read your sharing of how accepting these truths actually brought you to a place of peace.

  2. As far as I’m concerned, ‘ego’ is just one of many perspectives, all co – existing. The more a sertain perspective is believed in, the more solid and ‘true’ it seems.
    Something like that.
    I find it quite amazing to become aware of the movements of the ego. By being patient and truely interested the true meaning and function of ‘ego’ will reveal itself. It serves a great cause; to preserve the beauty that you are.

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