For a little while now I have been researching what the ego is and how it works. There are many explanations out there, and by reading a number of them, speaking with various people, discussing ideas, and translating them into my own language I feel I now understand what the Ego is and how it effects our lives.
The Ego is an illusion, it is a tainted view of the world that has been building since our birth. It is a complex feedback loop that tricks us into thinking only within its construct, it is holding us back. The ego governs most peoples lives, it lies to and reassures the individual, it provides solutions and presents problems as part of the feedback loop.
I have a model of this construct that can be seen below:
This diagram shows the Ego in relation to the self and to the rest of the world. As can be seen in the model, the Ego surrounds us completely. It is made up of many layers and attributes such as Confidence/doubt, happiness/despair, thought/experience, personas, etc. (these are potentially hierarchical as well)
The Ego has both good and bad aspects and it is the view that others in the world have of us, and the view we project on the world of ourselves.
This diagram represents a cross-section of the first, it shows that the Ego as well as being layered is also varied in height across the layers.
Each layer represents an attribute of the Ego, and that attribute is subject to change form the Egoic feedback loop. This feedback alters the way that we feel about something, It can be altered positively or negatively depending upon the feedback that we recieve from the outside world. each layer also can have a knock on effect to other layers, thus the peeks and troughs shown above can develop and change over time, and across ones lifetime.
The peeks and troughs are dangerous for us, they cast an unfair weight on the world as we percieve it, and thus will either cause us to repreat certain actions while avoiding others.
This is a model of the average person, who has no idea this is going on, they are at the mercy of their Ego and unable to see the truth in things.
If a person wakes from this vicious cycle and realises what is going on, then they have begun the path to enlightenment.
There is a danger here that manifests itself in the
question: is the path to enlightenment an ego trip?
Once the Ego is revealed, steps can be taken to moderate ones reactions to it. This will in time produce a normalised Ego profile that will bring health, happiness, and mental wellbeing to the individual. This may be enough for some people, indeed many will have achieved this in their lives without realising it. However there is more.
The Ego is still in control of the individual, for the individual to become enlightened, they have to leave the ego behind, to side step it and live without Ego.
In an article called "Nurturing the heart" by Cynthia Bourgeault, she states that "The Ego is not an enemy; it is a necessary developmental stage in the journey toward full human person hood" this is an important view not to lose.
If the individual practices, the ego can be reduced to nothing and bypassed. This is what i would call Enlightenment.
It is a reduction of the ego beyond normal healthy values to a state
where it is dormant, and is a tool that can be used if it is needed. As
you still have the egoic model at your disposal, it will not be difficult
to relate to others, both philosophically and emotionaly, who have not
reached this stage and it will be easier to communicate with those beyond
the first step.
However this is not the goal, there is more...
Looking again at the original model, The individual; the self, is subject to two other forms of energy, this is the second feedback loop.
The terms Zoe and Bios come from hermeticist Valentin Tomberg, they are defined as two types of vital energy. Bios is defined as natural life energy flowing horizontally , and Zoe; the vivifying energy from above. I would add to these description by stating that the natural energy directed is desire, and the Zoe is also the power of God.
These energies allow an individual to grow beyond enlightenment and develop in previously unheard of ways. I do not have any experience here from which to add to this description. However as I as i do i will add to this understanding.