Ego and Self (and Resistance)
Let’s revisit the quote from Rabbi Mordecai Finley that we cited two weeks ago.
“There is a second self inside you, an inner, shadow Self. This self doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t love you. It has its own agenda, and it will kill you. It will kill you like cancer. It will kill you to achieve its agenda, which is to prevent you from actualizing your Self, from becoming who you really are. This shadow self is called, in the Kabbalistic lexicon, the ‘yetzer hara.’ The yetzer hara, Steve, is what you would call Resistance.”
I believe absolutely that Rabbi Finley’s statement is true.
There is a second self inside us, and it is exactly as Rabbi Finley describes.
But why? Why would such an entity exist? Are you and I half-demonic? Do we have the Alien living inside us?
What would be the purpose—in evolutionary terms, if nothing else—of such a psychic structure?
Seth Godin’s theory is that it’s the “lizard brain,” the amygdala, a holdover from millions of years ago. He may be right.
Here’s what I think:
I think the human being, in her deepest soul-nature, possesses two potential identities.
The ego is one.
The Self, in the Jungian sense, is the other.
I define the ego as the conscious mind, the “I” that applies reason, that sets goals, that helps us navigate the 405 Freeway and the Major Deegan Expressway.
The ego believes certain truths and lives by them. Here are a few.
Death is real. We are all mortal.
Time and space are real.
Each individual human is separate from every other. I can hurt you and it will not impact negatively on me.
The Self, on the other hand, is the deeper “unconscious” mind. It is not rational. It is quantum. It operates beyond the realm of reason and by other, more counterintuitive laws. The Self believes and operates by different truths than the ego.
Death is not real. The soul is immortal.
Time and space are not real. The gods travel “swift as thought.”
Each individual is bound inextricably to every other. If I hurt you, I simultaneously and with equal impact hurt myself.
The primary emotion that the ego lives by is fear.
The primary emotion that the Self lives by is love.
What, then, is Resistance?
Resistance is the weapon the ego uses to prevent the individual from seating her identity in the Self.
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