Love and the World – a guide to Conscious Soul Practice
This piece is taken from Chapter 5: Grieving, Love and the Soul
I have never seen such clarity in expressing the differences between the ego and the I. It appears as something quite tangible for your being to work with, on and through.
“What then, is the nature of self-love if it is not the same as the affirmation ” I love myself”? It is not a consciousness of oneself from the outside, looking, as it were, at oneself and affirming what one sees as good and worthy. Rather, self-love is equivalent to self-consciousness, and self-consciousness is not a consciousness of the self but a consciousness in the self.
Clarifying the true meaning of self-love helps to bring understanding to the relation between the ego and the I. Ego and I in fact refer to the same quality, the quality of self-consciousness, which can function in two directions; the I gives and the ego takes. The I is creative, turned outward, while the ego is possessive, turned inwards. The I knows itself through its capacity to create awareness. The ego knows itself through the desire to feel it’s own awareness, the desire for self-feeling, which must come from the outside. Because it comes from the outside, this feeling can never be guaranteed, and when had it lasts only for a short time and has to be repeated endlessly. This is what makes the ego by its very nature an addict. Self-love, seen from the side of the I, on the other hand, is nothing more than a description of the operation of the I in its awareness of others and the world; that is to say, self-love is self-consciousness that encompasses the world. What then determines whether self-consciousness is turned creatively toward the world or addictively toward feeling itself?
The ego is always orientated toward the past, trying to hold on to what it has received from the past. It acts like a “finished” structure of consciousness, one that is complete; but since it is really not complete, it must continually seek affirmation that it is by acting like an is rather than a becoming. The I lives as an orientation toward the time current from the future, and thus knows only awareness, but not an awareness of itself. The ego is habitual, repetitive, and uncreative. The I can be imagined as a capacity rather than an entity, functions through improvisation, has no fixed form, and creates what it knows.
In other words, a strengthening of love is needed within consciousness. This strengthening must come from within consciousness and not from outside, which then would be a strengthening of the ego. Such a strengthening can come about only indirectly, through learning to work with fear and grieving.”
Page 101-102 [emphasis in the original]