Book Gems #11 is from The Myth of the Great Ending by Joseph M. Felser, published by Hampton Roads. This particular excerpt is called Psychic Politics. Enjoy!
Some observers associate the drive to control and gain mastery of time or nature with what they view as the historical development of the human ego, arguing that this was somehow a necessary evil, an inevitable step in the ‘evolution’ of human consciousness. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, after all. This view is itself a manifestation of a faith in linear progress.
On the other hand, there are many spiritual teachers who maintain that the ego is just evil, the source of all our problems, and that we should strive to ‘erase’ or ‘annihilate’ our individual egos if we hope to make true spiritual progress and achieve lasting happiness and peace. Such ideas are even part of some religions.
The problem, however, is not the ego itself, but rather our attitude toward it and our use of it. It is as if a member of a basketball team were to get the urge to play all the various positions—forward, center, guard. Or as if one member of a family suddenly decided to take over all the roles: mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter. That would be madness, a kind of unchecked psychological imperialism. And make no mistake: World domination is a delusion, not just a ‘stage’ little Johnny has to pass through on his way to well-adjusted adulthood.
The ego is part of a family or team of the total self, just as the self is a part of larger and greater totalities, all the way on up to All That Is. Each must play its part cooperatively, as best it can, in concert with all the others doing the same. There is no evil, even of the necessary kind, in the ego and its functions—including and especially that of reason, which is an essential check against the very real dangers of uncritical awareness. Unquestioning acceptance is the ticket to Jonestown.
Thus, beware of all self-proclaimed “spiritual teachers” who insist that their followers erase their egos in order to find bliss. You can rest assured that those ‘egoless’ Ascended Masters are busily pocketing the ego-shavings of their flock and selling them at a heft profit in order to grab their own fat piece of the pie. There is no surer sign of an imperialistic ego than the immodest claims of its detractors.
But what is the imperialistic ego trying to conquer if not the very nonrational, intuitive, imaginative aspects of self that create and maintain those invisible bonds with its kin—the other group members ‘within’, as well as the greater reality ‘without’? This bloated ego run amok is acid to the glue that holds our selves, and the world, together; it is this ego that seeks to control time at all costs.