Spiritual Ego

The spiritual ego (or magnified ego) develops when one gets excited by powerful spiritual experiences and begins to take pride in one’s success at Yoga. Here are some excerpts from Sri Aurobindo & The Mother on this matter:

The Mother (Mira Alfassa) talks with children on the dangers of the spiritual ego:

“To get over our ego is not an easy task.

“Even after overcoming it in the material consciousness, we meet it once more – magnified – in the spiritual.”

How can one meet one’s ego in the spiritual consciousness?

There is a spiritual ego even as there is a physical, vital and mental ego. There are people who have made a great effort to overcome all their egoism and all their limitations, and attained a spiritual consciousness; and there, they have all the vanity and the sense of their importance and contempt for those who are not in the same condition as they. Indeed, all that is ridiculous and bad in the ego, they find there once again. There are many, many like that. They have overcome what was there in the physical or vital consciousness but the very effort they have made to master themselves and this victory they have gained give them the sense of their extreme importance. So they become puffed up and assert their authority.

This happens so frequently that it is not even noticed.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1953): 9 December 1953

Still, the spiritual ego is better than the ordinary ego, isn’t it?

It is much more dangerous than the ordinary one! For one is not aware that it is the ego. Outwardly, when one is egoistic, not only does one know it oneself but others make you realise it still more, and circumstances prove it to you every moment. But there, as unfortunately you meet people who respect you highly, you are not even aware that you are terribly egoistic.

Very dangerous. Spiritual vanity is much more serious than physical vanity.

Then, Sweet Mother, with the ego can one realise the Divine?

Not at the moment one unites with Him. It is evident that at that moment the ego disappears. But that state does not last. Or in any case we can put it in another way: those who have brought along their ego with them cannot keep the consciousness for long. They become aware of themselves again whilst having the experience. It is that which is most terrible. They look at themselves having the experience and admire themselves. And they feel they are exceptional beings, much higher than others, and then that becomes deplorable.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1953): 9 December 1953

Sri Aurobindo discusses the spiritual ego in letters exchanged with various disciples

Although there is no ego in the spiritual planes, yet by the spiritual experience the ego on the lower planes may get aggrandised through the pride and wrong reception of the experience. Also one may by entering into the larger mental and vital planes aggrandise the ego. These things are always possible so long as the higher consciousness and the lower are not harmonised in the being and the lower transformed into the nature of the higher.

Ego is not so easy to get rid of. It remains not only in spite of work but in spite of knowledge or bhakti. The disappearance of ego means complete Mukti. Even the yogi who feels his separate being swallowed up in cosmic consciousness or some kind of Transcendent consciousness, yet when he comes to outward action and reaction finds the superficial ego still there. That is why the ascetic has a horror of action and says that without ego it can’t be done. It can, but it is fully done only when these outermost things are fully taken up by the higher consciousness in their entirety.

The sense of ego can disappear into that of the Self or the Purusha but that of itself does not bring about the disappearance of the old ego-reactions in the Prakriti. The Purusha has to get rid of these by a process of constant rejection and remoulding. The remoulding consists in throwing everything into a consecration to the Mother and doing all for her without regard to oneself, one’s desires, opinions, vital reactions as if they were the things to be fulfilled. This is most easily done if the psychic being becomes quite awake.

Without persistent rejection it [liberation from the ego] cannot be done. Going up into the Self liberates the higher parts, but the ego remains in the lower parts. The most effective force for this liberation is the psychic control along with steady rejection.

A true spiritual experience must be free from the claim of the ego. What the ego can do, however, is to get proud of having the experience and think: “What a great one am I?” Or it may think, “I am the Self, the Divine. So let me go and do what I will, for it is the Divine who wills in me.” It is only if the experience of Self imposes silence on the other parts and frees the psychic that the ego disappears. Even if not ego itself, numerous fragments and survivals of ego-habit can remain and have to be eliminated.

The egoism of the instrument can be as dangerous or more dangerous to spiritual progress than the egoism of the doer. The ego-sense is contrary to spiritual realisation, so how can any kind of ego be a thing to be encouraged? As for the magnified ego, it is one of the most perilous obstacles to release and perfection. There should be no big I, not even a small one.

What is meant by the magnified ego is that when the limits of the ordinary mind and vital are broken, one feels a far vaster and more powerful consciousness and unlimited possibilities, but if one ties all that to the tail of one’s own ego, then one becomes a thousand times more egoistic than the ordinary man. The greatness of the Divine becomes an excuse and a support for one’s own greatness and the big I swells itself to fill not only the earth but the heavens. That magnification of the ego is a thing to be guarded against with a watchful care.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – III: Transformation of the Vital – IX

Spiritual Ego in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri

But not by showering heaven’s golden rain
Upon the intellect’s hard and rocky soil
Can the tree of Paradise flower on earthly ground
And the Bird of Paradise sit upon life’s boughs
And the winds of Paradise visit mortal air.
Even if thou rain down intuition’s rays,
The mind of man will think it earth’s own gleam,
His spirit by spiritual ego sink,
Or his soul dream shut in sainthood’s brilliant cell
Where only a bright shadow of God can come:

Sri Aurobindo, Savitri – II: The Triple Soul-Forces

9 thoughts on “Spiritual Ego

  1. Pingback: Spiritual Ego « Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother « Yoga Bin Blog

  2. Pingback: Aspects of Karma-Yoga « Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  3. Pingback: Obsessive-compulsive spirituality by Dr Ramesh Bijlani | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  4. Pingback: Sattwic ego, Rajasic ego and Tamasic ego | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  5. Pingback: Sufi anecdotes and stories | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  6. Pingback: A case of Yogic Illness | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  7. mw

    The 6 Most Common Ego Traps on the Spiritual Path
    Posted by admin on February 19, 2013 in Ascension, Ascension 2013, mastery consciousness, Multidimensional Self, Personal Development, Quantum Consciousness, Self Improvement, spiritual evolution, Spirituality · 3 Comments
    HJ: The frequency with which the following ego manifestations are showing themselves nowadays is on the rise as humanity collectively begins to embrace its spiritual nature and more than ever individuals are waking up to higher levels of awareness. Before the spiritual seeker tames the ego, it will simply transform itself along with the focus of the conscious mind. It will shift shapes to embody a new set of ideals and outward expressions that mirror the seekers new spiritually oriented perception, however, the same core issues feeding its existence are still present. Furthermore, those on the spiritual path often are fooled or mislead into thinking they have transcended the ego or that the discovery of the spiritual path in itself means that they have conquered the ego. This is a trap or test, if you will, and is a lesson most of us must learn at some point.

    Being aware of these common ego traps on the spiritual path helps us to loosen the grip they have on our lives. The first step is awareness. The second step is acceptance. This then naturally leads to transcendence…

    – Truth

    The Buddha Mask (And Other Spiritual Facades)

    By Aalif | Superaalifragilistic

    As seekers, we may believe we have become aware now and dropped our false personas, but sometimes we have only traded it in for a new mask – a spiritual persona. In a hilarious group session a few months ago, my mentor GD helped us dissect and laugh at the masks we may wear as seekers, healers and therapists. Here’s my light-hearted summation of the key spiritual ‘displays’:

    The Buddha Mask: You’ve seen the statue, now meet the person. Unaffected by others, far removed from worldly emotions, this mask says: You can’t touch me… I am beyond it all. Behind it hides sensitivity, fear and confusion. During my early Vipassana days, some people called me ‘aloof’ instead of ‘aalif’!

    The Positivity Mask: Those who practice affirmations and positive thinking sometimes feel compelled to uphold an abnormally high frequency of ecstasy. Ask them how they are, and an automated voice reply comes: “AMAZING! Life is full of miracles!!” But when it is a mask, their eyes, their energy, and their aura tell a different story.

    The ‘Superior-Seeker’ Mask: They enter a room, and the whole room suddenly feels unworthy. They carry a subtle air of superiority. They are on the high road to heaven and they smile beatifically upon all the creepy crawlies with an air of cultivated compassion. Proving superiority all the time is a dead giveaway for a sense of inferiority inside.

    The Messiah Mask: They are out to change the world – one flailing, resisting human at a time. These are the givers of support and nurturance and advice… whether anyone asks for it or not! But give they must, because they need to avoid the confusion and emptiness within. A beautiful, socially approved mask and hence more difficult to let go of…

    The Pundit Mask: References obscure texts and uses big Sanskrit words. Will disrupt a conversation to quote a 16th century Indian mystic or a little-known modern non-dual teacher. It’s a mask when they talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

    The Lost-in-Space Mask: They find a way to bring Pleaedians, Archangels and Entities into every normal conversation. They would interrupt you to whisper conspiratorially that there’s a 6th dimensional entity behind you right now! They take name-dropping to a whole new dimension.

    While the masks may be twisted and rigid, the people underneath these masks are not foolish or nasty. They are you and me, GD said, innocently trying to cover up a wound of not-being-enough by putting on a show. Masks are a way of saying ‘I am special’ but ironically, each mask ends up proving the opposite: each mask reveals a lack of self-love and self-acceptance-as-I-am.

    All of us play a variety of roles in life. When we are conscious of the role playing, there is no problem. Masks are problematic because they are compulsive and unconscious, and the behavior comes from ego not insight.

    And whenever the ego creates a mask, it has to suppress the opposite in oneself – a compulsive giver finds it hard to ask for help; the intellectual ceases to listen and ask questions; Buddha-face cannot show vulnerability or intimacy when needed.

    When someone asked GD at the end of the workshop how she could prevent the mask from coming back on later, GD replied, “Make a joke of it, phone us all up and say: ‘Hey look, my mask is back!’ The moment you become aware, it loses its power. And once you make it a joke, it disappears.”

    And in the absence of masks, he reminded us, we can become like the beautiful little children we all are inside – who can be all of the above when required – and their exact opposite when required – without holding onto any particular face. [source: http://www.thehealersjournal.com/2013/02/19/the-6-most-common-ego-traps-on-the-spiritual-path/%5D


Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s