Ego and Spirituality

When I was in the fundamental Christian movement, we were told we needed to ‘die to self (or ego)’ to allow Jesus to guide our life. Letting Spirit guide us in all we do is a proper perspective. But does that mean we reject our ego? Is there a place for both ego and spirituality?

Ernest Holmes, in the Science of Mind textbook, describes ego:Ego and Spirituality

In metaphysical terms, the Ego refers to the Real Consciousness of man.  In psychology it carries a slight variation of interpretation, implying an organization or system of me.  In this textbook we frequently use it merely to convey the thoughts of the inner mane … the real self.

This was an eye-opening definition since I was previously taught that our egos were somehow bad or self-serving. Taken to an extreme, it can mean to let go of our reasoning process and follow some person, movement, or ideology. Frequently, this can lead us to some destructive practices, i.e., followers of religious cults. It seems to me that letting go of our thinking process is not honoring the Spirit within us.

While pondering this point, I read an article by Rev. Dr. Michelle Wadleigh on the same subject. Here is what she wrote:

Let’s stop giving the ego such a bad rap. So often, we use the acronym EGO for Edging God Out. This is a fad that sounds fun but has not been thought through very well before adopting it and repeating it to the world. Teachers are constantly referring to the ego as something that we need to fix, get rid of (which is impossible), or be aware of because they teach that it has a limiting impact upon us. …

But, if we, those who ascribe to this metaphysical and spiritual life, believe that Life is for us then how can the ego be against us? What if we were as grateful for our ego as we are for other aspects of our lives? Blaming the ego for our human behavior is incredibly shortsighted. The ego is used as a scapegoat for our bad decisions. But the ego is only doing what it was designed to – keep us safe, help us cope, and allow us to make it out of our youth.

She goes on to describe how forgiveness helps the ego keep us safe. (I recommend you read her full article:  Ego & Forgiveness)

What an excellent way to see the importance of preserving our ego. What are your thoughts?


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