A man is made up of several different factors: what he has inherited from his parents; what he has picked up from his surroundings; what he has brought over from previous reincarnations; what he thinks, feels and does; what his reactions are to other people. It is the combination of all these elements which make one man.
The tendencies and habits, the physical and mental activities which we have brought over from our own past, settle down and congeal themselves into what we call our personal self, our individuality, our ego. Yet life will not permit this combination to be more than a temporary one, and we go on changing with time. We identify ourselves with each of these changes, in turn, yet always think that is really ourself. Only when we still these activities and withdraw from these habits for a brief period in meditation, do we discover for the first time that they do not constitute our real self, after all. Indeed, they are then seen to be our false self, for it is only then that we discover the inner being that is the real self which they hide and cover up. Alas! so strong is their age-old power that we soon allow them to resume their tyrannous ways over us, and we soon become victims again of the great illusion of the ego.
The ego is a collection of thoughts circulating around a fixed but empty centre. If the habits of many, many reincarnations had not given them such strength and persistence, they could be voided. The reality–MIND–could then reveal Itself.
The thoughts and feelings which flow like a river through our consciousness make up the surface self. But underneath them there is a deeper self which, being an emanation from divine reality, constitutes our true self.
There is no real ego but only a quick succession of thoughts which constitutes the “I” process. There is no separate entity forming the personal consciousness but only a series of impressions, ideas, images revolving round a common centre. The latter is completely empty; the feeling of something being there derives from a totally different plane – that of the Overself.
We draw the very capacity to live from the Overself, the very power to think from the same source. But we confine both the capacity and the power to a small, fragmentary, and mostly physical sphere. Within this confinement the ego sits enthroned, served by our senses and pandered by our thoughts.
The ego borrows its reality, its power of perception, its very capacity to be aware, from its association with the Overself.
The Overself-consciousness is reflected into the ego, which then imagines that it has its own original, and not derived awareness.
Just as the human embryo is nourished and kept alive in complete dependence upon the mother inside whose body it is carried, its consciousness being in dreamless slumber like a hibernating animal, so the human adult is in reality just as dependent for his own existence on the Overself…
The personality is rooted in the Overself. Hence its own power and movement do reflect, albeit minutely, slightly, and distortedly, some of the Overself’s own attributes.
What we find as the attributes of the ego are a reflected image, limited and changing, of what we find in the Overself. They ultimately depend on the Overself both for their own existence and their own nature.
The ego’s consciousness is a vastly reduced, immeasurably weakened echo of the Overself-Consciousness. It is always changing and dissipates in the end whereas the Other is ever the same and undying. But the ego is drawn out of the Other and must return to it, so the link is there. What is more, the possibility of returning voluntarily and deliberately is also there.
The ego is a passing thing, but its source is not.
The source of wisdom and power, of love and beauty, is within ourselves, but not within our egos. It is within our consciousness. Indeed, its presence provides us with a conscious contrast which enables us to speak of the ego as if it were something different and apart: it is the true Self whereas the ego is only an illusion of the mind.
It is an irony of life that a man can plainly see the physical ego, but that on which it depends for existence, the Overself, he does not see. Therefore he neglects or ignores the attention it needs and misses much of the opportunity that a reincarnation offers to further his inner unfoldment.
What we are ordinarily conscious of are the thoughts and feelings of the ego, but there is much more in us than that. There is the true self, of which the ego is only a miserable caricature. If we could penetrate to this, the fundamental element of our selfhood, we would never again be satisfied with a wholly egoistic life…
Consciousness came first: all thoughts came into being later. It made their existence possible. It is the permanent principle in man whereas they appear and vanish.
Because this emanated consciousness of the Overself ties itself so completely and so continuously to the thought-series, which after all are its own creations, it identifies itself with the illusory ego produced by their activity and forgets its own larger, less limited origin.
Although awareness is the first way in which we can regard the soul or Overself, the latter is also that which makes awareness possible…
His thoughts are guided by the Overself, his emotions inspired by it, and his actions expressive of it. Thus his whole personal life becomes a harmoniously and divinely integrated one.
The personal ego of man forms itself out of the impersonal life of the universe like a wave forming itself out of the ocean. It constricts, confines, restricts, and limits that infinite life to a small finite area. The wave does just the same to the water of the ocean. The ego shuts out so much of the power and intelligence contained in the universal being that it seems to belong to an entirely different and utterly inferior order of existence. The wave, too, since it forms itself only on the surface of the water gives no indication in its tiny stature of the tremendous depth and breadth and volume of water beneath it…
Just as a shadow bespeaks a light, so the ego bespeaks its source in the Overself.
It is not only the hidden and mysterious source of their own little self but also the unrecognized source of the only moments of real happiness that they ever have.
Is it not ironical that the Overself projects the ego so far that it denies its source, and then waits indefinitely for the ego to give itself back?
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