Defining the Ego
When talking about the ego, we need to clarify our meaning, because the ego has been defined in many various ways. For many people the ego refers to a self-centered personality characteristic that focuses on gaining excessive amounts of attention, power, fame and admiration. Ego-maniac is the term often applied to people who seem to be excessively driven to satisfy this kind of ego.
However, the definition of ego used in many of the current teachings at Unity of Las Vegas refers to it as “the separate sense of self acquired at birth”. It is a sense of self that is driven by the instinctual need for physical survival; thus it is a critical part of our makeup. The awakened ego experiences itself at birth as a separate entity; separate from others and separate from everything else in creation. And, it instinctually acquires a state of anxiety around its acute sense of vulnerability.
What the Ego Does
The distress and anxiety related to vulnerability shows up almost immediately in a newborn. Experts say that, on average, newborns cry for about two hours each day. Although the crying is spread out through the day, all that wailing adds up to more than one would probably expect. Between birth and about six weeks of age, the amount of crying typically increases to almost three hours each day, no matter what! After that, with adequate loving care, the fussing should eventually decrease to about an hour a day. (Baby Center, L.L.C.)
Crying is an instinctually acquired ego strategy to influence the people that make up its outer circumstances (the outer world the infant is totally dependent upon for survival). And, the strategy usually works for getting its immediate needs for warmth, food, and comfort met.
The Developing Ego Sense of Self
Thus, the experience of physical separation and the concerns about getting one’s instinctual needs met (avoiding abandonment or death) are the defining characteristics of the ego. They stay with us for life.
There are five major instinctually acquired elements of the ego that begin developing during early childhood. These five instincts are:
- Security instinct: To have an abundance of all that is needed for physical survival.
- Self Esteem instinct: To avoid feeling or appearing less than – not good enough.
- Social Instinct: To feel highly valued and secure in one’s relationships with others.
- Sexual instinct: To be found desirable for reproduction and/or intimate relationship(s). (generates new levels of anxiety at puberty)
- Ambition Instinct: To experience greater satisfaction of one or more of the sexual, social, security or self esteem instincts.
It is the ego sense of self that tries to identify and neutralize threats to the satisfaction of these instinctual drives. It is the ego that often views life as a competition for the limited resources or opportunities for instinct satisfaction. All experiences of fear and resentment are directly related to perceived threats to one or more of these instincts.
Human Nature and the Ego
Of course, the ego stays with us for life. Whether or not it remains the primary sense of self is the question. The ego’s main job in life is to maximize the satisfaction of the instinctual drives and to identify and neutralize any perceived threats to the desired satisfaction of those instincts. Thus, the ego is usually driven by fear and driven to overcome what it sees as an ever-persistent condition of lack.
Your Spiritually Awakened Purpose
Acquiring an ego is how we inherit human nature. Thus, the universal life purpose (still largely unknown) of human beings is “to take on elements of human nature as it presently exists (the ego) for the purpose of first accepting, then transforming or transcending that nature, moving themselves and others forward on the evolutionary journey to conscious Oneness with God, each other, and all creation”.
Transforming lives is what Unity of Las Vegas is about.
Rev. Barry Vennard, Transitional Minister