What Is the Ego?
Human nature is a desire to enjoy, and the ego is the intention to enjoy at others’ expense.
Our desire to enjoy is divided into individual, social and spiritual desires:
• Individual desires - for food, sex, family and shelter.
• Social desires - for money, honor, control and knowledge.
• Spiritual desire - or more accurately, the nucleus of a spiritual desire (called a “point in the heart”) that questions life’s meaning and purpose. It starts emerging when we start feeling less and less fulfilled in our individual and social desires, and it can be developed into a full spiritual desire.
The ego, i.e., the intention to enjoy at the expense of others, does not relate to our individual desires for food, sex, family and shelter. These are purely animalistic desires that operate on us in order for us to preserve our survival as individuals and as a human species. It is similar to how there is a force working on inanimate objects to hold their form.
The ego becomes activated at the level of our social desires. Starting with the desire for money, it is a desire that fundamentally wants what the other has.
If we look at human evolution as a succession of the above-mentioned desires, then we can see how in early days of human evolution, i.e., our “caveman days,” we lived and worked only to satisfy our individual desires for food, sex, family and shelter.
After a certain period, we started wanting what others had. The desire for money urged us to fence off from each other, differentiating our property from the property of others, and developing systems of exchange between us. This is the start of the expression of the ego in human society.
The more the ego grows, the more we want to enjoy at the expense of others.
Therefore, the more humanity developed, the more people assumed positions of power, honor and fame and excelled in sciences, philosophies and the arts.
Today, we’ve reached a point where our individual and social desires are satiated. We’re feeling less and less fulfillment in operating according to the ego. It is due to the next level of spiritual desire starting to awaken in us.
The spiritual desire is above the ego. Nature guides us through a developmental process where we undergo many years of pre-egoistic development by satisfying only survival needs, and then 1,000s of years of egoistic development through desires for money, honor, control and knowledge.
In the final stage of humanity’s development, starting in our era, we undergo the “revelation of evil” in our egoistic development—where we cannot fulfill ourselves by trying to enjoy individually at the expense of others—and start realizing the new spiritual desire that surfaces.
In this transitional period between peak egoistic development and spiritual development, we as a society experience increasing negative phenomena, such as depression, stress, anxiety and loneliness as individuals, and division, conflict, xenophobia, divorce, bullying, abuse, exploitation and manipulation as a society. Such phenomena appear in order to show us that we can no longer fulfill ourselves, and will become desperate and helpless trying to do so, according to our natural, inborn egoistic inclination.
Thus, as Kabbalists have been discussing for generations, in our present times, we need to undergo a fundamental transformation of our egoism and realize our new spiritual desire.
Realizing the new spiritual desire means rising above the ego, i.e., aiming to benefit others instead of ourselves. In other words, by changing our inborn egoistic intention to benefit ourselves into an altruistic intention to benefit others, we realize our spiritual desire, and thus balance ourselves with the next stage of evolution nature is guiding us toward.
And when we balance ourselves with this new stage of evolution, we experience it as a new harmonious and perfect state.
If we fail to undergo the transition and continue stubbornly trying to fulfill our own selves at the expense of others, then we will continue feeling pains and pressures, ultimately leading us to more and more suffering and desperation.
It is thus my hope that we will realize the method we’ve been given, the wisdom of Kabbalah, and bring ourselves into balance with nature, acquiring wisdom to accurately define who and what we are, what is this ego sneakily working at every moment in each of us, and learning how to rise above it in order to experience newfound wholeness and perfection.