Parents have always been cautious in watching their children pick their friends. Why, because people are contagious and if we are not careful, we can become like those we hang around most. We want to make sure that our closest confidants won’t encourage us to get in trouble and are of good character. The ego is like a very close, but very bad friend. In the last message, we talked about the ego and how we must subdue it if we want God’s grace. Our true essence is soul and not body. Both require education, but a different kind of education.
“Baha’i education will strongly emphasize, therefore, the true nature of man, as an immortal soul which has both the opportunity and the obligation of spiritual development. In accordance with his dual nature, man’s selfhood or “ego” can become either degenerate or regenerate. Either we are constantly advancing on the spiritual path, or we are daily retrogressing. Even to remain inactive is to decay. (1)
Pause, “to be inactive is to decay”? Perhaps that is why we are taught that death is better than to spend our lives only on our “sensual desires,” especially when we have been singled out with so great an honor to be humans with a soul and endowed with the attributes of God.
“…If the health and welfare of man be spent in sensual desires, in a life on the animal plane, and in devilish pursuits — then disease is better than such health; nay, death itself is preferable to such a life. If thou art desirous of health, wish thou health for serving the Kingdom.”(2)
It requires a bit of humility to realize that we need help in subduing the ego. We have Abdu’l-Baha as our example:
“…One must be able with the spiritual eyes to see the things of the spirit. If we are like Him we must realize that we are nothing and that God is all – must eliminate the ego – surrender the self – and allow God to do His work in us instead of imagining that we have any power to accomplish it within ourselves.”(3)
We needn’t fear the powerful ego because through prayer, living the life, obedience to the commands of God and submission to His Will, we can subdue it! My sister used to say, “We need to stay prayed up!” I agree that it is through prayer that we get our power to soar and be protected against violent tests.
“We must pray night and day to endure unto the end and be protected from the shock of tests and trials. Prayer is the wing whereby the soul of man soars upward to the heaven of nearness.”(4)
BELOW, PLEASE FIND SEVERAL REFERENCES TO THE EGO TO REFLECT UPON DURING YOUR MEDITATIONS:
- “Man’s selfhood or “ego” can become either degenerate or regenerate.
- Either we are constantly advancing on the spiritual path, or we are daily retrogressing.
- Even to remain inactive is to decay.” (1)
- “Self and ego,” he said, “were like a cage, a prison. A man may be outwardly prosperous, but if he does not save himself from egotism, he is degraded and debased; while outside of the prison of self he is free, though (bodily) he might be in the greatest prison.” (5)
- “The ego is the animal in us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires.” (6)
- “This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan — the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside. (7)”
- Asked, “What is Satan?” He replied: “The insistent self.”
- “The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has,
- The lower nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.”(8)
- “Intelligence, as it appears, is but an instrument of the ego by which it succeeds in achieving its desires, and as such can make no guarantee of continuity or stability to human progress.”(9)
- Envy, jealousy, hatred, ambition — all the demoniacal forces which the ego of man can give rise to … have raised, in the hearts of more than one person, their ugly heads.” (10)
Walking the spiritual path together as we subdue our egos
Barbara Talley 2019,2021, 2022
1) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 12, p. 877)
2) (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 376)
3) (David’s Collection, Hooper Harris Notes 1907) of Abdul-Baha’s Talks
5) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)
6) (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 286)
7) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 13, p. 1187)
8) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 113, From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1947)
9) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 9, p. 749)
10) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 11, p. 122)