I am not trying to write what the famous poets Rumi and Iqbal wrote in their poetry, rather it’s just small glimpse of my understanding into their poetry.
Both poets have elaborated on the subject of ego and its secrets! However, I want to relate the spiritual concept of ego, as how can we apply it in our daily lives on an ongoing basis.
There’s a famous quote attributed to Buddha and Rumi, “Before you speak, let your words pass three gates. Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”
Speech is very powerful. It has the weight to uplift someone or break them. Another famous verse that just came to my mind, “Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury.” Meaning, don’t do good unto someone or help someone just to look down upon them and count your favours upon them. From the characteristics of superego and higher level of spirituality is to do good and forget it. You shouldn’t expect anything in return. Help someone within your capacity as much as you can. Being of service to others, enjoining and promoting good will add to your scale of achieving higher spirituality.
These quotes are related more to spirituality of an individual rather than ego. However, the reason I am writing this is because, I want to present how I view ego, the overlap between superego/higher self and spirituality and love.
I will try write all narratives of my understanding of ego parallel. It will help me to collect this information in one article and consolidate the narratives I know of, and help provide an understanding perhaps, where I am in these narratives and what are my blind spots.
In Arabic, Ego is referred to as Nafs. Freud has also categorised it in 3:
- Id or The Commanding Self (Nafs al Ammara)
- Ego or The Regretful Self (Nafs al Lawwamah)
- Superego or The Satisfied/Content Self (Nafs al Mutmainnah)
In the Islamic tradition, ego is also linked to the state of the heart. Modern science has gathered evidence of heart having its neurons and ability to make decisions. The gut instinct that you often feel is the result of that. However, in my view, before following your gut feeling, you must be aware of the state of your heart. There are 3 types of spiritual hearts:
- A Pure/Good Heart- this is when your heart is in sync with the superego (higher self).
- A Diseased Heart- this is when your heart fluctuates between the higher self and lower self. Similar to the ego state, when one goes back and forth as I illustrate in this sin curve of ego. I just coined this term thinking about actions, sine function(sin) and ego fluctuation cycle one goes through.
- A Dead Heart- this is when your heart is in id state, and your lower level you controls your thoughts and gut feelings. So before following your gut feelings, it is often a good thing to be aware of the state of your own heart as I elaborate below in this sin curve of ego.
Miyamoto Musashi said,
“In the practice of every way of life and every kind of work, there is a state of mind called that of the deviant. Even if you strive diligently on your chosen path day after day, if your heart is not in accord with it, then even if you think you are on a good path, from the point of view of the straight and true, this is not a genuine path. If you do not pursue a genuine path to its consummation, then a little bit of crookedness will turn into a major warp. Reflect on this.” End quote
In my view of this all and from experience, we develop our personality and traits over time and refine them(nature vs nurture). Hence, in some aspects of life you can access the superego state and stay in it, in other aspects you may struggle to even move beyond the id state. Id state displays animalistic behaviour and fights to override your rational thinking process and makes you follow your primordial instincts, so to improve and evolve you have to grow and climb on to the ego state. Once in ego state, you are in control of some bits of the aspects and to further evolve, you have to climb on to the superego (higher self) which I also view as the rational, logical and morally correct self.
From my experience, learning something new and making it your natural instinct or 2nd nature is what is involved in this process at times. However, for the time being as I am relating it to the spiritual state of the individual, I will relate this to the 4 different levels of love as categorised by Saints and relate them to the different levels of meditations:
- Love for yourself- any form of meditation which helps you improve, positivity and focus. Including exercise, nutrition and keeping fit.
- Love for the community- No particular meditation technique, rather actions show this.
- Love for the world- Compassion meditation. It connects new neural pathways and grants access to the subconscious state. It also increases one in love for others.
- Love for the universe- Transcendental meditation- I am not sure how correct this form of meditation is here. Although from my experience- it is a state where one detaches him/her self from all negativity and be able to stay in constant state of flow. Performing at one’s peak. From the spiritual perspective- being grateful and appreciative of everything in the whole universe. Known and unknowns.
Next time, I will delve more into meditation techniques and how we can increase our focus, attention and be able to visualise our goals.
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